Coram Deo – Acts 23– Click on this hyperlink to the left for a pdf file of this devotional guide.
Coram Deo is a Latin phrase which translated means “in the presence of God.”
To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in God’s presence, under God’s authority, and for God’s glory.
Coram Deo fosters a life of integrity and a clean conscience (v.1).
- To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos. When we are in right relationship with God and others, we possess a good conscience.
- Conscience – Moral awareness. The faculty by which we distinguish between right and wrong. Conscience is an irrefutable testimony to the existence of God. We can sear our consciences and make them dull.
- How is it that the Apostle Paul had a clear conscience? Paul had a clear conscience with regard to his past sins because of the cross of Jesus Christ, the cross which he proclaimed.
- Acts 24:16 – “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.”
Coram Deo fosters courage to bear up under hardship (23:1-11).
- What special encouragement does God give Paul at this time?
- Let us consider some of the lessons which are implied in this incident.
- Even God’s most faithful servants suffer discouragement and despair.
- Encouragement comes ultimately from the Lord. God often uses people to encourage us, but it is God who is the source of all comfort and encouragement. It is in His character, His power, His promises and purposes that we find our hope and comfort (see Romans 5:1-11; 8:18-39; 2 Corinthians 4:16—5:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; 3:16; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 5:10).
- God often encourages us by reminding us of something we already know, but have either forgotten or doubted. Paul was not told anything new by the Lord, but only assured that what he had already been told was still going to take place.
- Our encouragement is not rooted in our success, but in our faithfulness – our obedience to the task that God has given us. Paul’s testimony in Jerusalem was not humanly successful, but the Lord told him that he had completed his task of “solemnly witnessing to His cause” in that city. His task was done, and in this Paul could find encouragement.
- It is encouraging to know that God has a task for us to fulfill, and that He will use us in fulfilling His purposes. Paul’s task of testifying to the gospel in Rome was not yet complete. There is more work to be done. What joy one can have in knowing God, in his grace, has chosen to use us (see 1 Timothy 1;12-17).
- How has God encouraged you in the past?
Coram Deo fosters hope in a sovereign God who orchestrates the details of our lives (23:12-35).
- How does God rescue Paul from the guerrilla attempt to kill him?
- What does this incident reveal about God’s work in the world?
- What is the basis of your confidence amidst turmoil and trouble?
- To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. Nothing can come into my life apart from the loving hands of a faithful and good God who providentially controls all.
- This chapter underscores the sovereign control of God over history, in such a way that men are responsible for their actions, and yet God’s plan that He purposed from eternity past will be carried out. A sovereign God does not need perfect followers in order to achieve His will. He does not even need saints to carry out His purposes. And so God used the apostles, Paul, the elders in Jerusalem, Roman officials, and unbelieving Jews to spread the gospel to the Gentiles as far as Rome.