In Acts 24:16 Paul said, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” Paul exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence. And he was determined that he would be void of offence toward God and toward men. In 2 Cor 6:3 Paul strove to give “no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.”
You don’t want to be an offence in anything to God or to man. In Phil 1:10 Paul said, “that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” It is of utmost importance that we consider what Paul said and live our lives in such a way that we are not an offence to God or to man. He’s talking about us offending others with our conduct and the exercise of our liberty in Christ.
When you take the proper Biblical stand on the cross, you are going to be an offence. Of course, it’s not you; it’s the cross of Christ. The cross of Jesus Christ is an offence according to Gal 5:11. When you preach that Jesus Christ completed all the work that is necessary for salvation on Calvary, the cross will be an offence to religious men who believe that their religious exercise and good works will get them to heaven.
When you preach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he, and he alone, is the only way to the Father, you are going to be an offence. Of course, it’s not you; its Jesus Christ. According to 1 Pet 2:8 and Rom 9:33, Jesus Christ is a rock of offence. Religious men will scoff when you preach that there is no other way to the Father but by the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you “speak as the oracles of God,” 1 Pet 4:11, you are going to be an offence. Of course, it’s not you; it’s the word of God. We live in a world that makes “a man an offender for a word,” Is 29:21. It only takes one word to offend and to ignite opposition. In Acts 28:23-28, the Jews gave Paul an audience until he said “one word,” Acts 28:25. That word was “Gentiles,” Acts 22:21-22. It’s partly for this reason that there aren’t more Bible believing, Bible professing Christians today. According to Matt 13:21, “persecution ariseth because of the word, and by and by he is offended.” Christians get offended because of the word like the disciples were offended because of Jesus, the night of his betrayal, Matt 26:31.
So, when Paul exercised himself to have a conscience void of offence, he didn’t back down from the truth of Christ, the truth of the cross, or the truth of the words of God to keep from offending people. But he was careful with his words and actions to keep himself from being an offence. And likewise, we should exercise ourselves to have a conscience void of offence.
Be void of offence to Christ – Matt 16:23 – When Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that he was going to be killed and raised the third day, Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Peter was used by the devil to be an offence to Christ. In Acts 5, Ananias let Satan fill his heart to lie to the Holy Ghost. Paul said, “Neither give place to the devil,” Eph 4:27. You are an offence to Christ when you savor the things that be of men rather than the things that be of God. Only God can count the number of times that Christians have offended Christ. We are members of his body and we are to be one with him. When you act in our own self-will and not in God’s will, you are an offence to Christ.
Be void of offence to others – 1 Cor 10:28-32 – “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.” Whether they are lost Jews or Gentiles or whether they are saved you are not to offend them. In Rom 14:20-21 Paul said, “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” 1 Cor 8:13 says, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” We must be very careful with our liberty not to do or say things that offend others. I have heard others say of some Christians, “If that’s what it means to be a Christian, then I don’t want to be one.”
Be void of offence to the little ones – Mk 9:42 – “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” The world says they are concerned for the safety of the children. Yet, they indiscriminately kill them in the womb, by the millions. They indoctrinate them in the schools with lies until they have completely hardened them against the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they have taken away the proper means of chastening and so the children are left to themselves. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” Prov 29:15.
Conclusion: if you preach the cross of Christ, the exclusive means of salvation through Jesus Christ alone, and the truth of the words of God, you may find men will be offended. Just make sure that they are offended because of those three things and not because of you. You do not have the liberty to offend Christ, others, or the little ones. Exercise yourself to have always a conscience void of offence.