“You must be a good dancer,” I commented to a young man who beautifully glided with skating partners.
“I’ve never danced,” he said. He grew up in a church where dancing was prohibited. The only way he could move to music without feeling condemned was to put on skates.
Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-32 that everyone is born with some sense of right and wrong because we have some knowledge of God. However, the conscience is an imperfect barometer. We can ignore it, sear it, suppress it, and overly sensitize it. If we override it enough times, like feet calloused from going barefoot, it hardens to such a state that it no longer twinges at wrong. On the other hand, weak faith limits our freedom.
Paul cautioned the strong to respect those weak in faith. It would have been wrong for me to encourage the skater to violate his conscience. He needed to live within the limits of the faith convictions he held.
On the other hand, as our faith grows, our consciences can change. If he asked the Lord about dancing and came to believe dancing wasn’t sin and wouldn’t cause him to stumble, he would be able to dance in faith. He might still feel uncomfortable the first time on the dance floor, but the goal is to live by faith (Rom. 14:22-23).
A Condemning Conscience
A healthy conscience protects us from regret and harm by alerting us when we’re crossing a limit (Pro. 8:36). A stricken conscience tells us we’ve failed to live up to what we know to be right. Yet our feelings can lie to us.A healthy conscience protects us from regret and harm by alerting us when we’re crossing a limit. #SpiritualHealth #RefreshingFaith Click To Tweet
Feelings of condemnation are not from God. The Holy Spirit corrects us when we sin. Unlike condemnation, correction benefits us.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NIV).
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor. 7:10 NIV).
A Clean Conscience
A clean conscience is a precious gift. A friend once remarked he wanted to get even with someone who’d wronged him. “Don’t do it,” I warned. “God won’t let you get away with it. And then you’ll have to apologize.”
No matter how badly we’ve been wronged, we must keep a good conscience.
Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ” 1 Pet. 3:16 NLT).
One way to keep a clean conscience is to practice love. The one who loves gives their conscience nothing to use against them. If a super sensitive conscious condemns us, God knows our heart and is greater than our conscience.
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him” (1 Jn. 3:18-22 NLT)
We all mess up, and God has provided a way to cleanse our hearts. When we confess our sins, He promises to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:8-10). Nobody has to live in regret once they know Jesus (Heb. 9:9, 14, 10:22, 13:18).
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