Are You Letting Your Conscience Be Your Guide?

Were I to put a sub-title on this piece, it would be: Think About What You’re Thinking About. You might think it is impossible not to do that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the Lone Ranger when it comes to “What was I thinking?!” or “Another opportunity to be wrong and I took it.”

What are we thinking, day by day, moment by moment, when things are going great, when everything is hitting the fan, when we are alone, when we are with others, when we abound, and when we are abased? We gotta be aware of the thoughts and images running around in our gray matter, so that we do not fall prey to “stinkin’ thinkin.’” Because thoughts are the seeds of our words and deeds, thinking God’s thoughts is the key to speaking and acting according to His Word.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Colson Institute newsletter: “Alexis de Tocqueville famously wrote on his visit to America that religion and local voluntary associations serve as glue to hold our democracy [republic] together. Almost 200 years later, that’s simply not true about us any more. We’re now a society of isolated individualists—where drug addicts, the suicidal, and yes, the lonely, disturbed young men—easily slip through the cracks.” Sad to say that such is too often the case even within the Ekklesia, (Church), when synthetic “unity” is based on something other than God’s absolute truth.

Colson again: “America is in a dark, deeply divided place—a place Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn accurately described in a 1978 speech at Harvard as a place with “little defense against the abyss of human decadence…such as the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror.” Even strict laws, Solzhenitsyn said, are powerless to defend a people against such moral corrosion.” [Another erudite pundit wrote: “A country without a unifying moral structure is not a country.” Ditto for a “church,” which needs a unifying doctrinal structure.]

Our unique United States Constitution was designed to govern a people who for the most part would choose to govern themselves according to a moral standard that is perhaps best summed up in The Golden Rule, which everyone knows. What a concise and brilliant maxim for individual self-governance! But wait! What if you can’t rise up to such a lofty goal—doing unto others as you want them to do to you. What if you can’t DO?

Not to worry, because I have taken the liberty of coining The Silver Rule: Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. If you can’t DO something good, at least you could NOT DO something bad. Think about it: “The Silver Rule” is a standard by which the Lord Jesus can fairly judge even those who never heard of him? [“Let’s see here, Roscoe, did you routinely do unto others what you know you did not want others to do to you? You did? Uh-oh, that’s going to be a problem.”

Colson again: “If the devolution of our collective conscience continues, the replacement of constitutional rights with constables might be inevitable. But even constables won’t be able to govern, or protect, a people without a conscience.”

This last statement is indicative of what even most Christians are mis-taught in regard to their “conscience”: that it is some kind of moral gyroscope that always tells you what is right or wrong. Obviously, given the insane behavior exhibited by so many people, that is not true. Let’s look at the biblical definition (and some uses of  “conscience”). First of all, everyone has a conscience that is his guide. You’ve heard the statement, “Let your conscience be your guide.” You can’t help it; your conscience is your guide. The question is, “How have you educated your conscience?

In his lexicon, E.W. Bullinger defines “conscience” as: “the testimony to one’s own conduct borne by the consciousness man has of himself in relation to God.” He adds, “a man’s conscience will never condemn that which he believes to be right, or wrong.” A simplistic definition is: “mental habit patterns formed by reason of use.”

Romans 2:12-16
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 (For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciencesalso bearing witness, andtheir thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Here we see clearly that some people’s “consciences” accuse them when they behave a certain way, while others’ “consciences” excuse them for the same behavior. That’s because each person has educated his conscience differently. Its following uses illustrate this point:

Acts 24:16
So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

2 Corinthians 1:12
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.

1 Timothy 1:5, 18-19
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

This is the kind of conscience God wants for each of His children, a worldview shaped by steadfast faith in Him. In contrast, one can allow his conscience to become “seared” to the point that he does not empathize at all with others who are suffering.

2 Timothy 4:1-2
Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.

We see that everyone’s “conscience,” be it “good” or be it “seared,” is his guide. You and I want to educate our conscience/align our thinking to the unwavering standard of truth, the written Word of God. On the contrary, Satan wants to fill our minds with his lies that, if you believe them, ruin your spiritual growth and development. For those of us educated in the Word, he can’t sell us the many doctrinal lies about God that he peddles to most believers in order to distort their image of Him, but he can hawk his malevolent lies about us—and our unworthiness, our failures, our lack or whatever, and I think he does this mostly by bringing up unresolved issues in our hearts.

That is why it is a good idea to live in “day tight compartments.” A simple first step might be Psalm 139:24: ask the Lord to show you if you have any unresolved or offensive way living in your heart and deal with it quickly. Here’s another: “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26). And another: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5:23-24). As the old adage goes, “Forgive and forget.” And confess your own sins the second you recognize them (1 John 1:9).

Another critical point is to have biblically realistic expectations for yourself. A huge key to living with that pressure-free mindset is understanding Romans 7:14-25, and here is the link to Segment 23 of One Day With The Creator, “Living With The Sin That Dwells Within You,” which elucidates those verses. It is only 29 minutes long, and I encourage you to watch it in this context.

Of course, the written Word of God is our baseline and perpetual standard for living. So think godly thoughts—choose life! Here are some classic verses for you to consider.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Romans 12:1-2
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations [ungodly thoughts] and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 

Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:forgetting [refuting by resolving] what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

What would it be like to be a vital part of a body of believers who each practices those principles? What a beacon of light that would be for the millions of people here in our USA who are caught up in the maelstrom of malcontent and torn apart by all sorts of societal divisions. What can YOU do to generate and/or to participate in such an assembly of saints? TLTF has the resources to biblically educate people. All we need are willing and able brethren who rise up to lead, teach, minister. If not me, who? If not now, when?

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