Title: CAN I LET MY CONSCIENCE BE MY GUIDE?
Text: Titus 1:15
You don’t have to be a prophet to see the decline in our society. That which was a sin a few years ago was shunned, but now is participated in and the common response is: “What’s wrong with that? That’s just the way it is.” The decline has resulted from a lowering of the standard, combined with compromise with the world and the numbing effect these produce on our conscience.
Therefore, the immediate question needs to be addressed: “Can we trust our conscience to be our guide in making decisions?” What do you think?
The word conscience is derived from the Latin conscientia which, like the Greek root suneidesis, which means co-knowledge. It refers to an inner witness to moral responsibility, the inherent human capacity to distinguish between good and evil. It is the guide to decision making, and points to it’s moral dimension.
The idea of a conscience is present wherever man’s responsibility is called into action. But we all know that at times in our life we sometimes seek to escape responsibility, and thus we corrupt our conscience. Read Text!
1. How does Jesus refer to the conscience in Matt. 6:22-23? Give your interpretation of what Jesus is saying in these verses. How does your conscience “go bad.”
2. What do the following verses say in reference to a good or bad conscience? 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim 1:3; Heb. 13:18; 1 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:15; Heb. 10:2, 22
3. According to Rom. 2:14-15, Paul says all men are a “law to themselves” because God’s law is “written on their hearts. What does Paul say the role of the conscience is in this passage?
Comment: Let’s pause here and define our conscience. The conscience is the ________________ in man which enables him to ________________ his life and pass favorable or unfavorable _________________ upon it.
4. According to Rom. 9:1-2, what is the role of the conscience in redeemed man? What does 1 Cor. 8:7-11 say how someone’s conscience is weakened?
Comment: Though it is prone to error and often mistaken, the conscience should be heeded and respected. A person ought to act in faith on the basis of his convictions. Rom. 14:1-23
According to the New Testament, man has in the depths of his personality a moral monitor which sin has affected, but not destroyed. It places him in touch with God’s moral order. That order is translated into human awareness by means of the conscience. A good conscience is the basis for accepting God’s law, and a bad conscience becomes the self-judgment which God will use on Judgment Day to pass judgment. Rom. 2:14-16
5. At the same time, Christianity does not “idealize” the conscience. It cannot be revered as the very voice of God. It can, through sin and faulty training, be weakened to the point of being practically ineffective. According to 1 Tim. 4:1-2, how can the conscience be mistaken, or “seared”?
6. Is man’s interior moral sense sufficient to lead a moral life? Lk. 11:34-35
Insight: Man in revolt is often able to silence and suppress his conscience. The differences in man’s conscience in different cultures reflects the effect sin has upon us.
Therefore, we can conclude that in degenerate man (one who has not experienced the saving grace of the Lord Jesus), he is neither safe nor free to follow his conscience as a guide for his life. On the other hand, a redeemed man, in whom the Holy Spirit is working in tandem with the will of God, may feel free and should follow the inner voice within. The answer lies within the realm of fitting into the will of God and His written Word.
A story: In the early days of the forming of our country, a story circulated among the pioneers. The story goes that a pioneer friend of the Indians who learned their language became interested in their own cultural expression of typical English terms. The pioneer asked the Indian what he thought his conscience was. The Indian replied, “I think it is a box inside my chest next to my heart. When I do something bad, the box turns and the corners on the box hurt my heart. If I do something bad long enough, the corners get worn off and it doesn’t hurt so much anymore!”
Let’s apply this story to Christian principles. There are two things we need to note here. 1) What turns the box? 2) How do I sharpen the rounded corners?
1. What turns the box within us to hurt our heart depends on what the society we live in dictates what is good and what is bad. A bad thing in someone else’s upbringing may not be bad in ours, and vice versa.
2. How do I go about re-sharpening corners that have been rounded by repeated sin? God’s Word has the answer: Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 4:12-13