Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                             May 27, 2012                                                                                                                                                                NO. 18



Whether you realize it or not, you DO live with your conscience.  Everyone does! In one way or another -- in our ‘private times’ -- we are compelled to grapple with our consciences.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Many folks misuse their consciences and, in the process, they defeat the purpose for which God gave them to us.

In order for this God-given ‘guidance system’ to work, it must be properly trained. We must have our "senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). If the correct training is not supplied, then we may easily operate in the realm of self-deception. Saul of Tarsus did this. We know that he was the most notorious of those who persecuted the early church. He "made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison" (Acts 8:3). Yet he would later state that he had "lived in all good conscience before God" (Acts 23:1) and that he thought he was correct when he did "many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). You see -- as in Saul's case -- it is easily possible to supply our conscience with wrong information. And, when improperly ‘programmed’, it is possible for the conscience to suffer no ‘pangs’ even when we engage in the most awful and ungodly deeds.

Others know better -- they have been trained -- but over a long period they continue to ignore and violate the dictates of their consciences. Finally, their consciences become "seared with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:2). These poor folks have ruined the advantage that God gave them, and now they prolong their sinfulness without any ‘internal alarm’ to warn them of their misconduct.

And so, whether by supplying the conscience with misinformation or by simply ignoring its urgings, we end up living with our consciences in such a way that they do us no good. In such instances, the "mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1: 15).

Our goal, on the other hand, ought to be to "war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience" (1 Timothy 1:18,19). We should seek to maintain a "pure conscience" (2 Timothy 1:3), a "good conscience" (1 Peter 3: 16) and a "conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9:14). The doing of this requires that we:

1) Give our consciences the right training. This begins early in life. Parents are the early source of the moral guidance that trains the conscience (Ephesians 6:4). But the process never ends. As we reach adolescence and adulthood we must continue to study the Word and know what it says. Without constant reminders, the conscience will begin to weaken, and will ultimately lose its ability to offer necessary correction and reproof. Beware of the danger of thinking that you know enough already -- that you've learned all there is to know -- that you don't need to study any more. As soon as you begin to think this way, you have started down the road that will lead to an impaired conscience -- and then to a sinful departure from God.

2) Obey our consciences. It is one thing to know what is right -- to have a conscience that can hurt us when we contemplate sinful deeds -- and another thing to actually obey our consciences. We ought to be like Paul who said he had "renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” 

3) Never violate our consciences. Paul warns that doing any thing that is "not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:22). Remember, of course, that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10: 17). Therefore, we should strive to do everything we do so as to remain in harmony with what we understand to be taught in the Word of God. If you cannot do that, it is a sin -- an act done in "doubt" (Romans 14:23) -- a violation of conscience.

Thus, we all live with our conscience in some way. If we are careful to properly train and obey its dictates, then we have the spiritual advantage that God designed for us when he supplied us with our conscience.  

---Greg Gwin

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Following the resurrection of Jesus, the Lord appeared to two men traveling to Emmaus and without revealing His identity talked with them about the events of the crucifixion. As they walked the seven miles toward their destination, Jesus “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Later Jesus would reveal His identity and then disappear from their sight. As they pondered this marvelous event they said, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32).

Jesus taught them from “Moses and the Prophets” (Luke 24:27) and as He unfolded the teachings of the holy writ the hearts of these men were ‘set on fire.’ Here are men who listen carefully to the word of God hanging on its meaning and its application. What an experience that must have been to have the master teacher expound the truths of God’s divine word. The character of these men shows hearts that are ready, receptive, responsive and uncluttered by the dogmas of men. They accepted the teachings of God for what it was; the one truth. Paul commended the church at Thessalonica “because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

The church today needs hearts that are set on fire by the word of God instead of those who would seek to have their ears scratched. Vance Havner said, “We need an Amos. I read articles that lament our spiritual condition and say, ‘How we need an Amos.’ We do, but try preaching like Amos on Sunday morning and see what happens when this generation cannot endure sound doctrine. This generation comes all the way from heartburn to ear itch when we use the Word of God. When our Lord expounded the Scriptures in His day, His hearers had heartburn. But this generation gathers to itself teachers who scratch itching ears”

The Holy Spirit warned of the day when people would not endure sound teaching seeking rather to have their own desires filled. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The fables of today deny accountability to God. Preachers refuse to preach lessons on judgment and hell. Churches will often cower under the social pressures of adultery, homosexuality and divorce within their ranks. Immodesty is the norm with members engaged in social drinking, social gossip and social acceptance of ears being scratched by noncommittal sermons of apathy.


While the word God comforts the afflicted it also has the power to afflict the comfortable. Hearts need to be stirred to action by the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Would we dare to preach like Steven (Acts 7) or Paul (Acts 19) or our Lord (Matthew 23)? Jeremiah said, “Because the word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jeremiah 20:8-9). Preach!

---Kent Heaton

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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