Paul looked hard at the Sanhedrin [Jewish council].
“My brothers,” he said, “I have conducted myself before God in a completely good conscience all my life up to this day.”
The apostle Paul, as we shall see more in the next chapter, took great pains to examine his own conscience. He is very clear that he has a very clear conscience before God, and people.
How could he say this?
Well, he obviously took the time to examine himself. He had to have sat and reflected on his decisions, his actions, his thoughts–toward God and toward people–and confessed to God that which was not pure before Him, trusting in His merciful forgiveness, and thanking God for all that he had done and thought in purity of heart.
For years, I’ve advocated that if you do just one spiritual practice, the prayer of examination is a foundational one. For one, it is prayer—it is time with God in conversation, review, request, and gratitude. Five to fifteen minutes a day with God in this manner will change your life, and literally rewire your brain in the process as we now know through science.
How wonderful it is to sleep peacefully at night knowing you have done what you could this day after reviewing your day with God, examining your “whys” with Him, confessing, receiving forgiveness, thanking, resting.
Reminds me of the Emerson quote we have on our fridge:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
See an example of a prayer of examination here.
It’s interesting to note that Paul could have a clean conscience before God for his whole life as his life before conversion consisted of imprisoning and killing Christians for God’s sake. But he not only undoubtedly confessed it & repented of it, he also knew that he always acted out of zeal for God—even committing misguided heinous acts.