June 11, 2010

Little White Lies series "The Holy Spirit will reveal to me what Scripture means... (part 2)

The Burden of Learning

This is continued from yesterday's blog post.
The word conscience means “with knowledge.” The purpose of conscience is not to guide to a proper understanding of God’s will, nor is this to be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Conscience is only the product of our knowledge. It can only guide us according to what we have learned. This is why our learning needs to be founded in the biblical worldview and built up by studying the wisdom in Scripture.
Some people have stronger consciences than others because they have learned more in regard to God’s revealed moral will. A strong conviction, however, is not a sign of a strong conscience. Some people have learned faulty knowledge, and thus their conscience misguides them, even though their conviction to their conscience is great. Paul talks about this exact thing in 1 Corinthians.

However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
1 Corinthians 8:7

The point is that your conscience is not the voice of God. If you know someone that thinks his or her conscience is a standard by which all things must be measured and that their conscience cannot change, then I would encourage you to gently and respectfully warn them against self-righteousness and arrogance. We can always learn more and grow.
Our conscience should lead us to humility and trembling before an almighty God any time we choose to speak on His behalf. He has given ample warning in his Word about using His name in vain or teaching things in His name that have been so twisted that they no longer reflect His revealed truth. Check out a sample of the verses that deal with this topic:

You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:12

But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.
You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'
When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20–22

"...because they have acted foolishly in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives and have spoken words in My name falsely, which I did not command them; and I am He who knows and am a witness," declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 29:23

BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.
Matthew 15:9

The more we learn about God’s Word and God’s will, the more our conscience is strengthened to be more susceptible to the Spirit’s leading and calling. As our conscience grows in this way, our recognition of the Spirit’s direction becomes more acute. The key thing to remember here is that the conscience is under man’s control. God does not take over our conscience when we are redeemed. He allows us to grow and demands that we continue to learn His will according to His word so that our conscience does not become idle and useless (2 Peter 1).

So what do we do? I'll finish this up tomorrow.

With you for His glory