Steroids for the Weak Conscience
Most of us have some areas where we are weaker and others where we are stronger. How can we mature our conscience in liberty issues (NOT MORAL ISSUES, don’t indulge the flesh! Rom. 13:14) and get to a place of freedom. A few thoughts:
Is God’s revealed will firmly in my mind so that my conscience can shape its application?
When we don’t really know what God has to say, our falleness will always want to make rules. Rules make us feel self-righteous about following them. Biblical ignorance makes us either legalists or libertines. Those who make rules and those who hate any constraints whatsoever.
In this sense, the truth sets us free. Study everything in the Bible related to that area carefully. Read what godly men and women have written on it. Talk to people you respect. Seek understanding. This is the biblical concept of a renewed mind. A renewed mind can lead to a renewed conscience, and a renewed conscience can become a strong conscience.
How has my culture/background shaped my conscience?
God gave us consciences and the basic moral categories are set by Him and used by the Holy Spirit within us (Rom. 2:14). However, on Christian liberty issues, we are the product of many influences and we don’t even realize it. Parents. Churches. Spiritual mentors. They profoundly shape that thing inside that says something is okay or not okay.
I have found that my conscience is subtly influenced by the liberty context I am in. When I get around non-idol eating meat types of people, their fervor about it can make me wonder, do I have this right? Spend enough time with them and you’ll be sure you don’t have it right. It goes the other way too.
I remember when I went to College Park as the youth pastor, I met some really godly people who didn’t have issues with some things I had issues with, yet I knew they loved God and wanted to serve Him. My respect for them quietly altered my own perspective on a few Christian liberty issues. As my perspective changed, so did my conscience.
Do I have this issue in its proper place?
When the weaker brother judges the stronger for his freedom and the stronger looks down on the weaker for his sensitive conscience, both are making more of the issue than they should.
If God has not given us clear direction on it, it’s not that important to Him. Rom. 14:17 says, 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 (ESV)
Pray and Wait
God tells us to cast all our burdens on Him. If a liberty issue is a struggle, pray about it. After doing these other things, wait. Wait until your conscience gives you the green light. If you never get the green light, then don’t. Violating your conscience is never God’s will. Maturing our consciences toward holiness and freedom is His will and should be ours as well.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2009 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address (http://www.bethelweb.org/) on the copied resource.