The Presence of the Kingdom (3)
… how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9.14
…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Romans 2.14-16
Mind, heart, conscience
The greatest and most important work to which our mind and heart may be devoted is that of seeing Jesus, exalted in glory (Col. 3.1-3; Eph. 1.15ff). As our mind and heart perceive the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor, 4.6), we realize His Presence and are, by the power of the Spirit, transformed into His likeness (2 Cor. 3.12-18). We pray with David,
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple (Ps. 27.4)
In the presence of that gloriously beautiful vision, we say like Peter on the Mount, “It is good for us to be here!” (Matt. 17.4)
Thus the presence of the Kingdom—the rule of King Jesus—becomes more firmly established within us.
But for this to happen, the vision of Jesus and His righteousness, peace, and joy must be our highest value and priority (Matt. 6.33). That is, we must treasure the vision of Jesus, choose to focus on and embrace Him, and will to be made like Him.
The mind and heart will only function in this way when they are bridled by a clean conscience.
A good conscience
The Kingdom of God will be present within us to the extent that we maintain a clean and good conscience. The conscience is the valuing center of the soul. It holds the priorities which serve to clarify and direct both the mind and the heart for Kingdom presence. As thoughts or affections stir in the soul, the conscience reads the Law of God, which is written on the heart and settled in the mind (Rom. 2.14, 15), and engages the will to act in line with the vision of Christ and the counsel of His Word.
At the same time, the mind and heart—thinking and affections—inform and shape the conscience. The more we think with the mind of Christ and love with the new heart of flesh the Spirit is shaping within us, the stronger our conscience becomes to confirm and preserve those values and priorities. The Spirit of God at work within us labors constantly to “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9.14). Thus, when Christ is the focus and the Kingdom of God is the goal, the righteousness of God—together with His peace and joy—will shape the facets of the soul for a Kingdom presence in the believer.
What is the key to knowing the Kingdom presence in our conscience?
The Spirit and the Word
Only the Spirit can keep our conscience clean so that it always wills what is good and true. The mechanism He employs to do this is conviction.
Conviction is that sense of sudden awareness, disturbance, troubling, or heightened sensitivity that rises in our soul. The Spirit convicts us by unsettling our mind, provoking us to reflect, wonder, inquire, or seek more insight or understanding about a matter. At the same time, the Spirit stimulates our affections, whether of concern or alarm or perhaps of some new possibility for delight or joy. His aim in convicting us is to guard against or to expose and expunge sin; direct or renew us in righteousness; and equip us with sound judgment that we might return to or remain in or make more progress along the Kingdom path (Jn. 16.8-11).
Our part is to yield to the Spirit by being continuously filled with Him (Eph. 5.18-21). We may quench the Spirit’s efforts to provoke us for greater Kingdom presence in our soul (1 Thess. 5.19). Worse, we may grieve Him by some choice or action (Eph. 4.30). We must listen for the still, small voice of the Spirit as He speaks to us concerning everything we think, say, or do, that all might be invested for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10.31).
This requires time listening for the Spirit (Ps. 139.23, 24), waiting on the Spirit (Ps. 27.14), and especially being instructed by the Spirit, beginning in the Law of God and all His inspired Word (Ezek. 36.26, 27; 2 Tim. 3.15-17). What the Spirit seeks above all to do in teaching us God’s Word is to reinforce the vision of Jesus (Jn. 5.39; 15.26), so that the vision of Jesus, ordering and delighting our soul, may flow out from us, like rivers of living water, to refresh the people in our lives with the Presence of Christ and His Kingdom (Jn. 7.37-39).
You have no possibility of realizing a good and clean conscience if time in God’s Word and waiting on Him in prayer are not the joy and rejoicing of your heart (Jer. 15.16). If your reading, meditating, and study of God’s Law and all His Word is merely casual, your conscience will fail you when temptation worms its way into your mind and sows its enticements into your heart. Like Jesus, we must be ready with the Word of God so that nothing will turn our soul from delighting in Him above all (Matt. 4.1-11). And the more we live this way, our conscience bearing witness to the Spirit’s Presence in us and the righteous, peaceable, and joyous way of God’s Word, the more the rule of King Jesus will prevail in our soul, and we will be ready to bring a vibrant Kingdom presence to our world.
The Kingdom, Jesus explained, is first of all within us (Lk. 17.21), in our soul. There it fills our innermost being with the vision of Jesus and the righteousness, peace, and joy of His Spirit. Let us thus keep a close watch on our soul, working every day to enrich and enlarge it for Jesus, so that His Kingdom may grow and flourish within us, continually making all things new in our mind, heart, and conscience.
For reflection or discussion
1. How does the conscience work in conjunction with the mind and heart?
2. How do the mind and heart help to shape the conscience to be clean and good?
3. What can you do to give more place for the Spirit of God to shape your soul for the Kingdom?
Next steps – Preparation: Is your soul in proper working order? Spend an extended season in prayer, asking God to give you better understanding of how in your mind, heart, and conscience you can realize more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God. Seek specific action steps for a greater Kingdom presence in your soul.
T. M. Moore
A companion book to this study of “Kingdom Presence” is available at our bookstore. Learn more and listen to an excerpt from The Kingdom Turn, by clicking here. Then order your free copy.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from theNew King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study.
Presence of Conscience
- T.M. Moore
- June 28, 2023
The way to Kingdom values.
The Presence of the Kingdom (3)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore