Maintaining a Clean and Sensitive Conscience

August 7, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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In II Corinthians we find the Apostle Paul having come through a series of crises, including the problem of having to see that one of the church members at Corinth – possibly a leader – was properly disciplined. HOWEVER:

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12

As Paul often did, he was able to look within himself to find the strength and the encouragement not to give up. For, unlike many people, when Paul looked within himself he found God empowering him, reassuring him, and comforting him. When we “look” outward, we must use our eyes or at least our physical senses, but with what do we look inward? Our conscience.

Con = with; science = knowledge (to know). Our conscience is not really Jiminy Cricket (from Pinocchio) or the little angel that sits on your shoulder countering a little devil that wants you to do something naughty. The conscience is what we “know with.” It is given by God to every person so that everyone innately knows there is a moral law and moral Lawgiver. It does give us a sense of approval when we do what is right, and it does accuse us or give us a sense of guilt when we do wrong. Even lost people are aware of a sense of right and wrong – objectively. These ideas may be reinforced or corroded by society or experience, but they are hardwired into the human nature (as part of being stamped with the image of God). If a person tells you that right and wrong are subjective or the product of evolution, he or she will quickly fall into severe inconsistency the moment someone snatches her purse or steals his wallet. He/she will quickly become concerned for selfish reasons, but also offended at recognized injustice. No sane person hesitates to call what happened in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or cases of child abuse “evil.”

The conscience is what we “know with,” but it can become calloused and less sensitive – and dirty – which dulls our inward sense of right and wrong. Therefore, it is important to keep our conscience sensitive and clean.

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

Acts 24:16

1. Simplicity will help to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12

Your ministry in the name of Jesus Christ does not have to be overly complex, nor do all of your evangelistic witnessing enounters: “I was lost and Jesus saved me. I want Him to save you too.”

Sin complicates our lives, when the Lord would be more honored if we kept things simple. Manipulative bait and switch strategies, duplicity, and scheming are techniques sometimes used to attempt to bring people to Jesus, but they do not honor Him the way the simplicity of the Gospel does, and they cause us to forget that He is really the Savior – the One Who seeks and saves, and the One Who speaks and reveals unvarnished truth.

For we write none other things unto you, that what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are our’s in the day of the Lord Jesus.

II Corinthians 1:13-14

2. Submission to God’s will helps to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?

II Corinthians 1:15-17

The church members at Corinth were upset that Paul’s plans had changed, but he had not carelessly or willfully changed his plans or broken any promises. Circumstances had forced his schedule to change. He had qualified his stated commitment with the understanding that he would do what he planned to do, “Lord willing.”

For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

I Corinthians 16:7

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

James 4:13-16

Saying that we intend to do somthing, “Lord willing,” should not be superstition. It should be a serious recognition that God is sovereignly in control of all circumstances, and does not consult with our schedule when carrying out His eternal decrees.

When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

II Corinthians 1:17-20

3. The Holy Spirit helps to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

The Holy Spirit will give us the proper motive if we are faced with the need to change our plans. Only He gives us the assurance that we truly belong to God.

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

II Corinthians 1:21-22

Only the Holy Spirit can motivate us to serve others with pure motives.

Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

II Corinthians 1:23-24

For by faith we stand, but we stand leaning on Him. By faith we try to keep our consciences clean and sensitive, and we lean fully on the Lord.

voice of conscience

How to Fight Evil

September 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Posted in I Peter | 3 Comments
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As Christians, we are being prepared for glory. We should be prepared for being prepared. Look for opportunities to show God’s glory, and then you will see coming trials as opportunities instead of obstacles.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

I Peter 3:8

In order to prepare for trials we must begin to sow the seeds of love among each other. Normally, we speak of the principles of the harvest in relation to reaching the lost, but love among the brethren (including the “sistren!”) is also something we must “cultivate.” If we can’t love our friends and family, we will never be able to love our enemies.

There are three levels to fighting that involves evil:
1. Fighting good with evil is the Satanic level.
2. Fighting evil with evil (or returning good for good) is the earthly – or fleshly – level. Sadly, most Christians hover at this level.
3. Fighting evil with good is the Godly level – the Christ-like level.

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

I Peter 3:10-12

This level will require vigilance in four areas:

1. We must control our tongues. Don’t be like many preachers who are quick to condemn Peter as a hot-head, and an example of someone who was always writing checks with his mouth that his actual conduct couldn’t cash, for we are often just as bad, and many times much worse.

2. We must have a hatred of sin. As we cultivate the garden of love, we must aggressively pull out weeds.

3. We must go out of our way to pursue peace – to be a thermostat, not just a thermometer.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

4. We must sanctify Christ as our Lord. The fear of Him keeps us from being afraid of anything else. I should be afraid to rebel against Him. I should not be afraid to commit my life to Him. His will is perfect (Romans 12:2).

We must be prepared to give an answer, but we are witnesses, not prosecutors.

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

I Peter 3:16

We must constantly maintain (perform maintenance on) our conscience. Con means “with” and “science” means “knowledge.” Our conscience is what we “know with.” It is like a mirror. It should show the truth, but it only works when there’s light. If a mirror gets dirty, it gets distorted. It can make us think we’re okay, that we look fine, when we are not okay, or when we’re actually filthy. If it keeps getting dirty, eventually it gets blackened. It shuts out all light, and we are left thinking good is evil, and evil is good.

Lord, I pray that the light of Your Truth would shine brightly into our lives – even if it is painful at first. Help us to love the light and reflect the light. Help us to be glory reflectors, shining Your light on a dark, dark world. Please bless those who gather to obey You, and those who have applied themselves to the study of Your Word to show themselves approved. Help us to be unashamed workers. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

What the Knows Ought to Know about Conscience

June 2, 2017 at 10:53 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 5 Comments
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This may sound obvious, but it bears mentioning: As Knows (Christians), we ought to know that we don’t know everything.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

I Corinthians 8:1

Clearly the Corinthian Christians were forbidden from practicing idolatry, but it was difficult, in those days and in that place, to purchase from a market, or to consume, meat that had not been offered to a false idol. Usually, in ancient times, sacrifices were divided – with some being burned, some being eaten at a temple, and some going to the priest. The priests sold their leftovers to markets. The Knows at Corinth “knew” this – and they “knew” about avoiding idolatrous worship practices – but knowledge by itself tends to swell a person with pride. We expect humility to be the great deflater, but here the Bible teaches us that love (“charity”) fills people up (“edifies”) in a good way – not with puffy vanity, but with wholesome nourishment that builds us up.

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

I Corinthians 8:2

Humility is self-defeating when we are proud of being humble, so knowledge apart from love, while puffing us up, makes us ignorant.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

We might ask, “Known of him by whom?” Known by others? Known by himself? Or known by God? All three would apply. Our testimony of love for God should be evident. Because it is a “given” knowledge, it humbles us, but it is still knowledge – awareness of the truth – so that we can KNOW we belong to God. And certainly God knows those who belong to Him. False professors will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

A willingness to examine our practices in light of Scripture, even when it come to things as mundane as eating, and a willingness to examine our consciences, can be a convincing sign to others and to ourselves that we have a real relationship with God – that He inhabits every area of our lives as He should – and that we understand our moment-by-moment existence as “coram Deo” – before the face of God.

The Knows also ought to know that not everyone knows the same things.

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

I Corinthians 8:4

The Corinthian Christians knew that idols – as the representatives of false gods, and as supposedly talismanic objects in and of themselves – had no real power because the list of real Gods stops at one.

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

I Corinthians 8:5

This is a reference to spiritual beings which are sometimes called gods – and do in fact have supernatural powers.

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

I Corinthians 8:6

We know that these beings are created, and, even though they may have power, their existence and whatever power they possess is totally dependent upon God the Father and Christ the Son.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

I Corinthians 8:7

However, even some of the Knows at Corinth were a little shaky on this understanding. For them to eat food which had been sacrificed to an idol would defile their weak (not properly informed) consciences. “Unto this hour” implied that they were truly Knows, but that some of the superstition of their previous “Know-Notism” (paganism) had not yet been fully sanctified out of them.

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

I Corinthians 8:8

It’s not what goes into the body that makes us more or less holy in terms of our standing before God (although mind-altering substances would be a different matter). So, when is it okay and not okay for Knows with stronger consciences to exercise their liberty and eat a t-bone steak left over from an Apollonian feast? The answer to this has to do with Christians understanding and prioritizing the greater good.

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

I Corinthians 8:9

Remember how love deflates proud knowledge. It also reminds us – in our humility – to serve someone besides ourselves.

For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

I Corinthians 8:10

Be careful about where you exercise your liberty. Someone watching you might misunderstand and think it is okay to do what they thought was wrong – for the wrong reasons. Christian liberty is properly developed from a sharper – not a duller – conscience. Iron sharpens iron: Christians are supposed to sharpen each other, not make each other dull.

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

I Corinthians 8:11-12

If your love for your fellow brother or sister is not strong enough to keep you from callously exercising your liberty, your love for Christ certainly ought to be.

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

I Corinthians 8:13

The good of fellow Christians is the overriding factor when it comes to nonessential liberties.


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