Not all clear consciences are equal.
I sat listening intently when pastor gave a message on the making of decisions, specifically decisions that involve the making of moral choices (and most do).
When he introduced the place of conscience in the decision-making (and justification) process, I heard something I'd never really considered before. Let me paraphrase: .
The conscience is like a thermostat rather than a compass. It is activated according to what is in the heart; and what is in the heart is a by-produce of what we've been taught (true or not), and have come to believe. A clear conscience does not necessarily mean one is on solid ground. Likewise, a guilty conscience may have nothing to do with reality; a false read can produce false guilt.
Merriam tells us that the conscience is:
- 1a : the sense of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good
- 1b : a faculty, power, or principle enjoining good acts
- 1c : the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego
I found the entire body-of-thought fascinating. It helps me to better understand why some people - even believers (even myself) - can justify this or that belief or behavior based on what's been heard from parents, or a teacher, or the world, or the church, or through their own flawed reasoning.
I know what the Bible says, BUT (fill in the justification blank). I see absolutely nothing wrong with (fill in the immoral or unethical blank).
It's no one's business; it's between me (or them) and God alone (this is one of my personal favorites, though it is diametrically opposed to Body-life, and the accountabilities of the believer, one-to-the-other).
Yes, BUT, my family, or church believes (fill in the blank with whatever's contrary to God's word but supported some other way).
You don't actually believe that "God says ...", stuff do you?
I can't believe God can or will forgive me for (fill in the condemnation blank).
It also helps me to better understand how & why & when a day like this comes to be:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
It is apparent that people can be totally and genuinely sincere, yet sincerely wrong (I didn't coin this concept, but I wish I had).
Afterall, transformation begins in the heart, and is completed in the mind (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18). Therefore what I think & believe has a HUGE impact on the making of assessments and decisions.
For the conscience to be truly clear (or convicted), it must be well-informed by truth.
How easy (and dangerous), then, is it to silence any challenge by presenting a clear conscience as evidence of one's position; one's innocence.
How sad (and debilitating) to be sidelined by a guilty conscience that is undeserved.
It occurs to me how often Jesus prefaced His messages with this statement: "I tell you the truth ...". He was also very clear about the substance and source of His truth-telling:
Jesus said, "If you hold to (obey)
They are not of the world,