I have been reading a very helpful book concerning our conscience, Conscience: What it is, How to train it and Loving those who differ by Naselli and Crowley.
Naselli and Crowley point out that the conscience is a God given human capacity and define it by saying, your conscience is your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong. So generally when you hear that little voice in your head prompting you to do or not to do something, it is generally a good idea to obey it.
Yet sometimes your conscience can be wrong, because we have damaged it. Naselli and Crowley draw out from the Bible how we damage our conscience in two ways. The first is by making our conscience insensitive by ignoring it. Paul, speaking of false teachers points this out when writing to Timothy,
through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared (1 Tim. 4:2)
Paul points out, these false teachers are “searing” their conscience by continuing to do what they shouldn’t. Have you ever put a piece of meat on a extremly hot frying pan, you hear the sizzle, the meat turns brown and gets tough. This is the imagery Paul uses to describe how we make our conscience insensitive by ignoring it.
Another way we damage our conscience is by making it oversensitive. We pack our conscience with too many rules which are only a matter of opinion, not right and wrong. The funny thing is we can accomplish both at the same time. Those same false teachers Paul was talking about were try to enforce unnecessary laws on people concerning marriage and diet.
who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Tim. 4:3)
I am sure we can all look back and pinpoint times when we have made our conscience insensitive, oversensitive or maybe both at the same time. Naselli and Crowley point out a case when Jesus made the connection of and insensitive conscience and an oversensitive conscience with the Pharisees. Check it out,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matt. 23:23-24)
Did you catch the connection? Look at verse 24. The Pharisees were straining out a gnat (oversensitive) all the while they were swallowing camels (insensitive), pretty hilarious imagery. What is not hilarious is that their consciences were so insensitive and oversensitive it blinded them from the truth and the camel they were about to swallow was the murder of the Messiah they were waiting for. Do you see the danger?
Here is another example from Naselli and Crowley from American History.
This may explain why a generation ago in some parts of America, very strict churches were extremely careful about many minor issues that they perceived were right and wrong, but the same churches also trained their deacons to guard the church doors and keep out blacks. Talk about “neglect[ing] the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23)! Talk about choking on camels! (pg. 30)
My friends align your conscience with the God of the Word. Guard against insensitivity and oversensitivity.
Until Next Time
Soli Deo Gloria