1 Corinthians 4:4 “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
What does my conscience tell about me? Whether I believe something is right or wrong doesn’t necessarily bring judgement or justification. If my moral compass is not aligned with the Truth of God, I will not be able to accurately determine my true course. If I want to understand how to keep my life in alignment with God’s will, I need to know how to gauge whether my conscience is focused on my purposes or God’s purposes.
*A very general definition of conscience is: an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.
My next thought leads me to ask the question, ‘how do I define what is right and what is wrong?’
What is Wrong
Just because I don’t feel guilty, doesn’t mean I am free of guilt. If I don’t feel it’s wrong to steal because I’m hungry and have no money, does this change the fact that I have stolen? The one who does believe it’s wrong to steal may violate their conscience but still try to justify it by the means.
Not long ago there was a trend of rioters looting businesses, usually after an election or event they disagreed with. It seems once someone breaks a window and walks in to steal the wares, everyone else thinks it’s fine to go in and steal as well. There’s a piggyback effect of conscience where many feel wrong about stealing until someone else comes along and doesn’t feel wrong, then the others proceed to allow their consciences to give way to their desire for loot.
The phrase, “everyone is doing it”, is a common teenage argument for getting their parents to allow behavior that typically leads to trouble. The maturity and wisdom the parents have acquired is disregarded for the sake of pleasure. The teens who desire to party it up feel justified in partaking by the sheer number of kids involved. This leads to the question as to whether cultural sympathies should define what is right and wrong?
Postmodernism is a term that has been used with some regularity for the past 50 years or so. The fundamental difference between modernism and postmodernism is that modernists search for an abstract truth for life while postmodernist thinkers believe that there is no universal truth, abstract or otherwise.
The idea that ‘truth is what you make it’, is a growing trend in modern day universities and cults for that matter. It has been advancing in popularity because it allows those who subscribe to this philosophy of life no absolutes by which to feel guilty. God’s laws are rendered as obsolete, social responsibility is dependent on what works best for you and governing authority is looked at as evil and must eventually be overthrown. Is it any wonder we are witnessing the chaos in American cities where rioting is being revered and the police castigated as being totally corrupt.
The insanity of holding the position of relativism was in full display when I had a conversation with a local Ramtha follower. The local cult is based on the channeling of a 5000 year old “warrior spirit” with its followers involved in transcendental meditation and other demonically controlled practices. The man I attempted to share the gospel with proceeded to share with me what he meant in following this line of thinking. “Whatever is true for you is true for you and the same goes for me”, he exclaimed with delight. So I asked the wayward pilgrim a question, “What if I say your wrong?”, and without hesitation he declared, “Your right!” Oddly enough, he didn’t consider that his response completely denied itself and had no logical progression of thought, it simply was an idea that sounded good to him.
My truth that denied his truth was still considered right in his eyes.
*Part of the reason this post-modernist thinking has become so prominent in America is it provides a safe haven from guilt (at least so they think.)
Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.”
You don’t have to look long in God’s Word to see what God places emphasis on. The heart of man is the source of his motivation. If his heart is evil, his motivation is evil, regardless of what it looks like in practice.
What is Right
What if people really believe what they are doing is right?
Romans 2:12-15 “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 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.”
You see, the moral law is the standard by which we are judged. Those who practice lawlessness, may deny the power of the law, (which is eternal death), but they can’t dismiss that they know in their hearts what they do is wrong, they may not admit it, but they still know. The Lord has written on their hearts the ability to understand the premise of the law, good/evil, right/wrong, even though they may deny an adherence to the law.
Eventually, every relativist must assume a position of having no position. Any absolute denies their ideology and refutes their position. If I ask them if truth is relative, and they say, Yes!, they have laid claim to an absolute and must retract their statement.
Back to the conscience…..
James 4:17 “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
When I think of “doing good”, the first image that comes to mind is a boy scout helping a little old lady across the street. Now, there are many ways to ease our conscience, knowing we should be doing something good is reflective of God’s influence, but knowing how is another story. Doing “good”, is a term that in the Bible is relegated to God alone, so if we want to do good, we act on God’s purposes and not our own.
*Our consciences may lead us into what we are familiar with and not what is true.
John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
What is true is defined by the Word of God. If you want a blueprint for how to live, follow the pattern of life that God laid out in the Bible. If your conscience is founded on this truth, you weigh decisions on what God declares and not what the world interprets.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
Next, those who are filled with the Spirit, receive the conviction of the Spirit of God in their lives.
Walking in Truth
The Truth of God transforms your mind, the Spirit of God changes your heart. It is then up to us to submit to the sanctifying work of the Spirit so that we might bring our flesh into subjection to God’s leading on a daily basis. Remaining in Christ is a continuous affair. Walking with God is not necessarily easy but it is extremely rewarding and yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Romans 8:5-10 “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
A clear conscience is an ideal worth striving for. When I fail, the necessity for repentance is to restore fellowship with God, one that is lost when sin is present in my life. The Lord is slow to anger and quick to forgive, it’s up to us to humbly come before Him in anticipation of turning from evil.
Thank God He loves us more than we can ever know. He will guide us into what is good and true if we only let Him.
Our world is spinning out of control because it has no moral compass. The Word of God provides that compass, it’s up to God’s people to share that truth with others.