Ben Reaoch | Category: The Christian Life
This is a continuation of a previous post on discretion and the conscience.
Don’t pressure another believer to go against conscience.
A second implication here, which we’re told directly, is not to put pressure on another believer to go against their conscience. If there’s an activity we recognize to be OK—it’s not harmful, not sinful. But if that activity pricks the conscience of my brother, the last thing I want to do is twist his arm to make him do something that violates his conscience. Even if, from my standpoint, it seems that his conscience is a bit confused, it’s still better for him to obey his conscience.
I remember, years ago, being at a science exhibit where there was a display of what is called the thermal grill illusion. There are alternating warm and cool coils. The warm is not hot. The cool is not cold. But when you put your hands on these alternating coils, so that you’re touching both warm and cool coils, it creates a burning sensation. It feels like your hands are on a stove top, so you pull back. But then you touch the coils one by one and realize it’s just warm and cool. It’s a trick. It’s confusing to the senses. And for that particular scenario, one realizes, “I shouldn’t trust my senses.” But if you’re tricked again and again, and you begin not to trust your senses in other scenarios as well, it could end up being really harmful.
A similar thing could happen if we pressure others to go against their conscience. If we tell them, “Don’t listen to your conscience. Just listen to me.” That’s going to erode their ability to discern right and wrong. Instead, as Paul instructs in verse 22, “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.” It’s OK for you to exercise the freedom you recognize that you have. But don’t flaunt that before others. And definitely don’t try to coerce others to conform to your viewpoint.
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