Ben Reaoch | Category: The Christian Life
The shocking truth that we need to be aware of is that a person can violate their conscience without even engaging in an activity that is inherently sinful. Let me say that another way: You don’t have to be lying or cheating or stealing or committing adultery to sear your conscience. It may be a perfectly legitimate activity, but because it’s questionable in your conscience, it would be damaging to your conscience to do it. It doesn’t have to be wrong, in and of itself, but it’s wrong for you because you consider it to be wrong.
This is the complexity of the human conscience. Let me share with you a couple illustrations I came across. Imagine a child comes into the kitchen to find freshly baked cookies cooling on the table. The child looks this way and that way, and then grabs a cookie and runs outside to eat it. Later the child feels bad about this and confesses to mom, “I’m sorry I took the cookie. I should have asked you first.” And mom says, “Oh, don’t you remember. I told you this morning that you could have a cookie once they came out of the oven.” Was the child in the wrong? Well, taking the cookie wasn’t wrong, in and of itself. The child, in fact, had permission to do so. But the act of taking the cookie was rebellious, and was a violation of conscience, because at that moment the child was under the impression that permission had not been given.
Or imagine you’re at work and you see a wallet on the floor. You quickly glance this way and that, and then you grab the cash out of the wallet. A little while later you realize that the wallet on the floor belongs to you. It had fallen out of your pocket. Was it wrong to take the cash? On the one hand, it was not wrong to do so. It was your money. But when you took the money you were assuming it belonged to someone else, thus making the action sinful and a violation of conscience.
There are many possible scenarios of this in the Christian life. Maybe you grew up in a Christian tradition that really looked down on dancing. Dancing was seen as something that came from the Devil. Or maybe God saved you out of a partying lifestyle in which dancing was associated with a lot of immoral behavior. Is dancing inherently sinful? No. But for either individual I just described, it could be damaging to their conscience to participate in any kind of dancing. The same could go for playing cards or drinking alcohol or wearing jewelry or doing some work on a Sunday.
Don’t go against your conscience.
There are a few layers of implications here for us. First of all, there’s the very important message to all of us: Don’t go against your conscience. It would be very harmful to go against your conscience. Even if your conscience is not fully informed. Think of your conscience like the sensitivity of your skin and way that those nerve endings can register the feeling of pain. Just think of all the bruises and scrapes and burns you would have if you didn’t have that sensitivity to feel pain. You would destroy yourself.
Well, the conscience alerts us to the destructive power of various things. It cringes when a wrong action is presented before us. It inflicts feelings of guilt when we have done something wrong. And by so doing, it keeps us from destruction. So don’t go against your conscience. Because if you repeatedly go against your conscience, you will become immune to those warnings.
See Conscience Part 1: Definition here.
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