Hardly anyone speaks of the conscience anymore. As a society, our “conscience” hardly even “bothers” us any longer. We have become so accustomed to all kinds of wrong and all types of filthiness that we don't even know how to blush. A Christian, however, is a man who lives by a properly ordered, well-trained conscience. In fact, violation of one’s conscience is sinful (Rom. 14:23) even if there is no inherent wrong involved. Meat-eating was not sinful per se, but if a person had scruples against it, Paul said he should not eat meat. The lesson: Don't violate your conscience. If careful study of God’s word and earnest prayer causes you to change your scruples and allows you to begin eating meat, then that is perfectly fine. But if your conscience cries out in anguish at the very sight of hamburger — then leave it alone. It would be sinful for you to go contrary to this inner sense of right and wrong.
Why is Scripture so insistent that the conscience not be violated? Paul, in fact, always worked “to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (Acts 24:16) He paid attention to his conscience, made certain that he did not abuse it, and determined not to violate it. In order to secure a clean conscience, the blood of Jesus redeemed us (Heb. 9:12-14). Baptism is an “answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:21). Concerning deacons, 1 Timothy 3:9 says they must “hold the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.” The conscience, therefore, is a vessel — a container in which is held the mystery of our faith.
This being so, we can understand the necessity of an unbroken, clean conscience. Deliberate violations of conscience rupture the container in which our faith is held! If we persist in violating our conscience, our faith will leak away like water from a cracked drinking glass. When you do what you know is wrong, you cannot have a pure conscience. Without an intact conscience, sensitive to the will of God (cf. 1 Tim. 4:2) we are destroying the very thing that will keep us in the faith. 1 John 3:21,22 says “If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things pleasing in His sight.”
By Mark White
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