Your Personal Adversary

Paul speaks of many adversaries in scripture when he says in 1 Cor. 16:9, “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” And it is also stated in 1 Peter 5:8 that satan is our adversary.  But today I wish to talk about a different adversary; one who is very close to you…one who lives in you even.

There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” 1 Cor. 15:44

However, the spiritual body is not first, but the natural body, and then the spiritual body follows after.” 1 Cor. 15:46

Adam was first created a natural body, and then God breathed into Him His own Spirit.  And when the Spirit touched the body the soul was created.  Because scripture tells us that “man became a living soul.” The point of this last statement was just to show that the physical body was created first, and then the spiritual body followed after; which lines up perfectly with what the Holy Spirit said in the 1 Cor. 15:46 verse already stated above.

Just as you have natural eyes, you have spiritual eyes.  Just as you have natural ears, you have spiritual ears.  Just as you have a natural tongue and can speak, you have a spiritual tongue that also speaks.  Just as you have natural organs inside your body, you have spiritual organs inside your body that are a reflection (concerning their respective functions) or your spiritual organs.  As I said in a few teachings back: just think about what the kidneys do for your body.  The meaning of the word “kidney” in the Hebrew (Strong’s #3629) is heart.  Don’t you find that very interesting?  Just look up online what your kidneys really do and then keep in mind that the Lord parallels this word with your heart.  And what does the heart do?  It pumps blood to all the members and organs of the body to give them life (because of the oxygen in the blood that the body needs).  Your spiritual heart does the same thing: it pumps whatever is in it to all the other members of your spiritual body.

But the one thing I wish to point out this morning is the brain stem.  The brain stem is the bundle of nerves that proceeds from the brain to all parts of the body.  This is the “sensitivity center” for the whole body.  This is how you feel and touch, and this is also how you feel pain.  When you’re too close to a flame, it is the nerves that feel the heat and send the “warning/danger” signals to the brain through the nerves which in turn causes your brain to tell your hand to pull it back.

Your conscience is the nerve center of your entire spiritual body. It speaks to you, it warns you, or it excuses you.  The Lord said in Matthew 5:25, “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” In reflecting on this, I would like to bring your attention to just a few points of interest.  One being that this word (“adversary”) in the Greek is a legal term, which means “an opponent at a court of law.”  This is not your neighbor that you have a disagreement with, or another brother/sister in the Lord that you are at variance with.  Otherwise the judge (Judge) would hear both sides of the argument.  This “adversary” has the power and the authority to just deliver you over to the judge.  And notice something here: the judge believes the “adversary” (without even questioning you) and he delivers you over to the officer.  In other words, this “adversary” is bringing you to the judge; he is not at odds with you, he is only delivering you over to him.

Luke’s account that is given in Luke 12:58 adds something to the equation: “When you go with your adversary (have you noticed in both Matthew and Luke, the adversary is referenced as “your adversary”?  He’s not your neighbors adversary or your brother’s adversary, he is “your adversary” – your personal adversary) to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.” I also want you to notice in both references the term “on/along the way.” This means your natural lifetime is all that you have to make sure your conscience is clean and void of offense before God and man.

Paul spoke more about the conscience than all of the other writers of the entire bible combined.  I personally think the reason he had such a deep grasp on this concept was because he had the deepest grasp on the scriptures (in particular the Law) than any other writer.  I personally think that the only person in the Old Testament who had an understanding of the conscience and the meaning of all the symbolisms of the tabernacle in the wilderness was Moses.

Your conscience is a divine recorder.  It is recording every word, deed, thought, motive, and intent.  And the conscience does not lie.  It is an impartial witness.  Paul even calls the conscience a witness.  What does a witness do in any court of law?  They just simply state the exact facts of what they saw and heard.

The heart is the thermostat that sets the conscience to Hot or Cold.  If a person obeys the word of God and changes his life to line up with the word of God, then the thermostat is set to Hot.  If he chooses to walk in his own way and not heed the council of God given to him in God’s word, then his thermostat is set to Cold (his heart has grown colder – his heart has grown older – his heart has grown harder). When the word touches our conscience in any area of our life and we neglect to obey it, we have just seared (burned) the “nerve-endings” of our conscience in that particular area. Always obey the conscience, keep it tender, and keep it void of offense towards God and man.   As Paul said, “live in all good conscience to this day.” The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how wonderful and fearfully made we really are spiritually.  And I have come to understand that the conscience (which is one of the three parts of the human spirit and one part of the soul) was one of the greatest revelations that Paul gave us by the Spirit.  The more I study it out and meditate on it, I’m like…”WOW.”  How can these things be?

The 17th century Puritan, Richard Sibbes, said, “the conscience is the soul reflecting upon itself.”  The word conscience is made up of two words (“to know” & “together”). It means co-knowledge.  John Macarthur said, “The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God or the law of God.  It is a human faculty that judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive.”

John Macarthur goes on to say, “Richard Sibbes pictured the conscience as a court in the council of the human heart.  In Sibbes’s imagery, the conscience itself assumes every role in the courtroom drama.  It is a register to record what we have done in exact detail (Jer. 17:1).  It is the accuser that lodges a complaint against us when we are guilty, and a defender to side with us in our innocence (Rom. 2:15).  It acts as a witness, giving testimony for or against us (2 Cor. 1:12).  It is the judge, condemning or vindicating us (1 John 3:20-21).  And it is the executioner, smiting us with grief when our guilt is discovered (1 Sam. 24:5).  Sibbes compared the chastisement of a violated conscience to “a flash of hell.”

“The conscience is privy to all our secret thoughts and motives.  It is therefore a more accurate and formidable witness in the soul’s courtroom than any external observer.  Those who gloss over an accusing conscience in favor of a human counselor’s reassurances are playing a deadly game.  Ill thoughts and motives may escape the eye of a human counselor, but they will not escape the eye of conscience.  Nor will they escape the eye of an all-knowing God.  When such people are summoned to final judgment, their own conscience will be fully informed of every violation and will step forward as an eternally tormenting witness against them.  That, Sibbes wrote, ought to discourage us from secret sins.  Sibbes wrote, “We should not sin in hope of concealment.  What if thou conceal it from all others, canst thou conceal it from thy own conscience?  As one saith well, What good is it for thee that none knows what is done, when thou knowest it thyself?  What profit is it for him that hath a conscience that will accuse him, that he hath no man to accuse him but himself?  He is a thousand witnesses to himself.  Conscience is not a private witness.  It is a thousand witnesses.  Therefore, never sin in hope to have it concealed.  It were better that all men should know it than that thyself should know it.  All will one day be written in thy forehead.  Conscience will be a blab.  If it cannot speak the truth now, though it is bribed in this life, it will have power and efficacy in the life to come…We have the witness in us; and, as Isaiah saith, ‘Our sins witness against us.’  It is vain to look for secrecy.  Conscience will discover all.”

Brother and sister, I just encourage you to look us the word conscience and begin to read the scriptural references of it. I have personally learned lately to handle my conscience very carefully.  I’m very serious.  I carry it as I would a packet of hidden diamonds in my suit pocket.  I’m always checking it and reflecting upon it.  I do nothing now to sear it or offend it.  It is like a baby that needs constant care and nurturing.  Carry your conscience as you would your own infant child while crossing the street.  Very carefully and fully aware!!  This is not a game.  Your conscience is that part of you that will condemn you in that day or come forward to your defense.  It is a spiritual DVD recorder that never stops recording every single thing.  It can only be wiped clean of its offences by heartfelt remorse and repentance.

I pray that you can see this truth.  I just began to see it myself last year.  John Macarthur put out a beautiful book on the subject entitled, The Vanishing Conscience.  My dear friend Jerry Jasnowski is the one who told me of the book and I am indebted to him for this.  This subject is one of the most important subjects in the bible concerning your Christian life.  I can only pray that you will take it seriously and begin to study it for yourself and meditate upon the many scriptures concerning it.  Please think deeply about the Matthew 5:25 & the Luke 12:58 verses and the Lord will show you much, much more.

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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Joel 2:1