Friday, February 16, 2018

A Matter of Conscience

"The requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them" (Romans 2:15).

What is the biblical view of conscience? The New Testament uses the word 31 times, and there are two general ideas for which conscience is used. First, when we sin the conscience is troubled. It is the tool the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to conviction, to drive us to repentance.

Second, the conscience simply reinforces what we think is right and wrong. The inner voice of conscience can tell us what is right, and for this reason we can tend to lean on it for guidance. But the conscience is not the final authority for human conduct because the conscience is capable of change. Yet God’s principles do not change.

There are several kinds of changes that our consciences can undergo. It is possible for us to grow accustomed to sin and for our consciences to become warped so that we no longer approve what is good. We can come to think something is right when in fact it is horribly wrong. An example of that today is the number of people who think abortion is right and even good, when in fact it is murder.
Another distortion of the conscience occurs when it becomes sensitized in a distorted way through wrong information. In Christianity there are subcultures in which the test of sanctification consists of such matters as whether one wears lipstick. If a young woman from such a group wears lipstick, she will be afflicted with guilt.

What about such a situation? It is always a sin to act against conscience, because that which is not of faith is sin. The young woman who wears lipstick, thinking it is wrong, has sinned by doing what she thinks God does not want her to do. So, in counseling her, we first of all have to deal with her sin. It is not a sin, however, to re-educate one’s conscience to the standards of the Word of God. This is the proper way to change the conscience, and we do it by study of the Bible and prayer.

When was the last time you were concerned that your conscience was either active enough or had been dulled by cultural influences? Today ask God to hone your conscience to a razor’s edge through Bible study and Christian education. Determine to make it a more willing tool of the Holy Spirit in producing personal righteousness.