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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hard Questions – Are You Violating Your Conscience?

 

The “Evening Song” that I posted last night was a sober reminder of the consequences of sin.  The verses with it are an important warning.  James 1:14-16  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Some years ago I had a friend who decided to do something that she knew was contrary to scripture.  I still remember when she told me her plans.  If I understood her correctly, she said to me, “I know that isn’t what the Bible says, but [I’m] going to do it anyway.”  I can’t express the sense of dread that came over me.  I turned the conversation in another direction around that point, as I recall.

In retrospect I wish I had been a better friend to her and called her down on that statement at the moment.  I don’t think it would have done any good, but she still needed to hear a warning.  Sometimes we need to speak up, even when a person won’t listen, simply to remind them that there are others watching who know they’ve made a bad choice.  I did pray for her, but I should have rebuked her.  Proverbs 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend…  Sometimes I think we are so afraid of “judging others” or causing “contention” that we fail in our biblical duties to our friends.

Now I realize that God doesn’t always bring direct and immediate chastening for sin or faults.  There are people who are saved who are not walking according the the scriptures who seemingly “get away with it.”  I can think of several reasons for this.

  • One is that they are not really God’s, as we’re told in Hebrews 12:8,  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons
  • Another reason can be that they are ignorant of that specific problem and God is merciful.  All of us have blind areas where we have not yet seen that we are disobedient.
  • Sometimes God is just plain longsuffering with us, knowing in His foreknowledge that we will in time listen to His word.
  • Sometimes a person is stuck in a situation where they have no choice but to do something that they know is biblically wrong or doubtful.  A wife may find in necessary to do something for an unsaved or other-wise-minded husband in order to be in submission to his wishes.  A husband may bear with certain things as well when his wife refuses to see his perspective on some things.

Now, to be clear here, I’m not speaking about obviously sinful living.  This is not adultery, fornication, pornography viewing, thefts, murder, child abuse, etc.  Those are things that frankly cannot be justified or excused in any situation.  We are speaking of what might be considered the less obvious things in life.  Things that the Bible speaks to, but over which there is not always complete agreement among Christians as to how that is to be played out in daily life – dress, women working outside the home, music styles, methods of schooling, movies and T.V., reading material, definition of profanity, debt, use of alcohol, college education, regularity of church attendance, food and much, much more.  I’m also not speaking of those occasional stumbles over things we know are wrong.  This is about willfully entering into a continual state – a life choice, as it were – to do something that our own conscience before God tells us is wrong.

Getting back to my friend – she had viewed what she chose to do as wrong for a long time, and she frankly admitted that she knew the Bible taught otherwise, yet she chose to go ahead with it anyway.  This is a real “danger zone” for the believer.  You know, “Beware of falling judgment” and that sort of thing.  When we go into sin or error of our own free will, with full knowledge that we are doing wrong in our own conscience, we are tempting God.  We are tempting Him to show His righteousness and to give us justice.  This is a very scary position in which to be!  Luke 4:12  And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

I don’t know how long it was before my friend began to have physical problems, but she did.  The Lord seemed, from my perspective, to be putting up road blocks to try to get her to turn back.  Despite the difficulties this imposed upon her, she eagerly pressed forward in her own way to the best of her ability.  (It still makes me feel sick to think about it.)  Eventually she developed an incurable disease and, though the dates have escaped me, I think she was dead within about two years or less of when she first told me what she intended to do.

Dear ones for Christ’s sake, this is not a place you want to go.  Please, if you are toying with anything like this – something you KNOW is biblically wrong in your conscience – please, Don’t Go There.  If you are already into “the doing” stage and you are reading this now, it is not too late.  You can still turn back into the right ways.  Even if you feel you are already experiencing the chastening hand of God, if you confess your sin He will forgive your sin and help you pick up the pieces.  It may not turn out as neat and tidy as you’d like, but it would be so much better than perusing your own way to the end.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Proverbs 16:25  There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

When we refuse to listen to our conscience, as my friend did, we are putting ourselves in a position of great peril.  The conscience was given to us for the express purpose of keeping us in the right way.  The Bible speaks of a seared conscience in 1 Timothy 4:2 as a very grave thing.  This is something we want to avoid!  When we are convinced in our own conscience that a thing is wrong and we go willfully ahead and do it anyway, this can bring us to that terrible state.  Generally, I think, it is something that has to be repeated a number of times, or it is something that we force upon our conscience very purposefully – something that burns and sears and leaves the “nerve” without normal feeling.

Scripture also speaks of having a good conscience:

1 Timothy 1:19  Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

And it speaks of a pure conscience:

1 Timothy 3:9  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

This is what we should strive for by keeping it in good working order – listening to it when God pricks us there.  (By the way, it’s important to always listen to our conscience in the context of God’s word.  The flesh and the devil can and will try to use our conscience to try to mess us up or cause unnecessary guilt.)

Speaking on the food subject, which is a big deal with many today, Paul wrote, Romans 14:22  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

When my friend told me that she knew it was wrong, but she was going to “do it anyway”, she condemned herself.  She was allowing herself to do something that was against her conscience before God and which she knew was contrary to scripture.  More than that, she boldly spoke it outright.  Jesus warned us, For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matthew 12:37

In speaking of the manner in which they took the Lord’s Supper, Paul wrote to the Corinthians,  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30  As with the Romans 14 passage, I don’t believe this damnation is damnation to hell, but a death sentence as it were.  There are things that we can do as Christians which will bring us to the point where God will take our lives in order to remove us from that sin or error.  He will take us out of this life to heaven so that we cannot go on sinning in the face of His holiness. 

So, listen to the Lord as He speaks through your conscience.  Do not willfully go in a direction that you know to be clearly against the word of God.  You will reap what you sow.  It may be great sorrow, lifelong damage and scars, inescapable consequences, or even death.  Galatians 6:7  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

God is just as well as merciful.  Do not tempt Him to show you His justice.

…and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Luke 17:32  Remember Lot's wife.

2 comments:

  1. This was a very thought-provoking post, dear Mary. I appreciate you sharing with Roses of Inspiration. Blessings to you!

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    1. Thank you Stephanie, I'm glad. You're welcome as well. :-)

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