Listening to Your Conscience part 2

Chris Bogstad
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Listening to Your Conscience
Romans 14:5-9, 22-23

Introduction

Ask for prayers
Review of the book

4 reasons you should listen to YOUR conscience

1) Your conscience is a gift from God, so appreciate it (Rom 1-13)

Explanation
The conscience speaks to us
It is part of the image of God, which reflects God’s law written on our hearts
John MacArthur describes conscience as “a built-in warning system that signals us when something we have done is wrong. …. it inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, whenever we violate what our hearts tell us is right.
But it can be suppressed
Illustration
Therefore, our conscience is a gift
But you might say, it doesn’t seem like a gift my conscience hurts me a lot
my conscience hurts me a lot
And that is the point… it is a gift like our sense of touch is a gift
That sense is a gift from God that can function as a warning system to save you from great harm. If the tip of your finger lightly brushes the top of a hot stove, your reflexes pull back your hand to avoid more pain and harm
-But it also let you know something feels warm and comforting
Similarly, the guilt that your conscience makes you feel should lead you to turn from your sin to Jesus.
God gave you that sense of guilt for your good.
And that blessing of a clean conscience
Application
How is your conscience is a blessing to you?
You will be happy when you have a clear conscience
And God has designed you to seek happiness in him
You can intensify that satisfying pursuit if you understand that your conscience is a priceless gift from God, learn how it works, and then cultivate it so that you can love others.
How do people not see their conscience as a gift and attempt to suppress it?
By saying just ignore it
by trying to sear it through telling themselves what they did is ok
By trusting it too much
How does a person’s conscience help when appealing to them?
Parents- this means you have an ally in raising your children in their conscience. When you teach, their conscience hears the truth, even if they don’t seem to
In Evangelism… you always have the person’s conscience on your side because they know what you’re saying is true
Christopher Ash writes about the conscience
Other people know that the little voice is there inside me. And sometimes they appeal to it against me. ‘You know that would be wrong,’ (Ecclesiastes 7:21 “21 Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you.” why shouldn’t I listen in to the conversations of others? Here is the answer: ‘ . . . for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.’ The expression ‘you know in your heart’ means pretty much the So when I am getting on my high horse, indignant about that nasty thing someone said about me, the writer appeals to ‘what I know in my heart’ to persuade me to get off my high horse and admit that I’m not as consistent as all that myself.
Trans: Your conscience is a gift, but it’s a gift that needs to be used or it goes bad.

2) Your conscience is determined by what you think, so think clearly (v5)

Explanation
Romans 14 is dealing with a conflict between the Jews and Gentiles in the city of Rome
There are two groups (the strong and the weak) whose consciences disagree
Two issues dividing them
Food- The strong no food ‘is unclean’ (14:14).
The ‘weak’ consider some foods to be ‘unclean’ (14:14)
Religious days- The ‘weak’ ‘considers one day more sacred than another’, while the ‘strong’ ‘considers every day alike’ (14:5, 6).
we will discuss how these two groups should relate to each other,
How does 14:1-4 tells them to relate to each other?
welcome each other, 10-22 tells them to not pass judgment upon each other
we want to deal with the issue of why you disagree with another
Being convinced
Each person must be convinced in their mind regarding they will celebrate the religious festivals or not
The word convinced comes from the Greek word to fill
Their minds are filled with thoughts about this subject
Or another way to think about it that our conscience is that it is responsive… it is the caboose at the end of the train that has been going on for a long time
So changing it would be like trying to adjust the path of a mile long train by pushing on the caboose… its not going to change easily
A great example of this comes from 1 Corinthians 8 where Paul talks about a similar situation
1 Corinthians 8:4–13 NASB95
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 7 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. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
What is the problem they’re facing here?
There is food again, but it is food offered to idols
Paul makes clear in v 6 that there is only one God and so idols are nothing
But Read v7
Someone people who have spent years in paganism and look at food offered to Zeus and they just can’t shake the thought when they put that steak in their mouth… this was for Zeus
Can anyone thing of a modern day example of something that feels sinful (though isn’t) and cannot be shaken?
Flip back Romans 12:2
Romans 12:2 NASB95
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
So, Paul is encouraging them to be convinced or full of the exact thoughts he prescribed in 12
Christians are to use the power of their reasoning and act accordingly
Illustration
We must think clearly when it comes to the conscience because
The conscience is more like a skylight than a light bulb
It lets light into the soul rather than creating its own
How well it works depends on the type of light we put before it and how well we keep it clean
If bad thoughts pass through that window, then we will have a bad conscience that doesn’t feel anymore
As Paul warned 1 Timothy 4:2
1 Timothy 4:2 NASB95
2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
Listen to your conscience because it makes you think through what God demands of you
Application
How can God grow us by making us think through our moral decisions?
This is one reason why God allows us to have different views on conscience issues
You must think through the issues & be convinced
One mom I know was asked by her teenage daughter why she couldn’t wear jeans
She responded because girls do not wear jeans
But Mrs so and so lets her daugthers wear jeans
Mom finished, “That is fine, but in our house, we do not.”
However, she began to think about why she didn’t wear jeans and she started to realize that her thinking was based more on the fact that her dollies always wore dresses than anything biblical
But, on the opposite side, there was a college man who was asked to watch game of thrones
A showed filled with violence and sexual immorality
People who tell him, well so and so watches the show
Yet, as he thought through the bible’s commands for sexual ethics and pornography & he considered that the screen was filming real people, he became more convinced
He could not honor god and watch this show
Any questions about how thinking leads to our conscience?
Trans: and he made this choice because he knew the 3rd reason to follow your conscience

3) Your conscience is a slave of Christ, so choose to honor Him (v6-9)

Romans 14:6–9 NASB95
6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Explanation

The festivals

i. There was a great conflict here between the Jews and gentiles over what to do with Holy Days
ii. Paul’s response?
1. Whether you celebrate or not…realize you are here to serve Jesus
2. So don’t judge others who think differently
3. Just make sure you’re doing it because of JEsus
iii. Same with Christmas…
Where are we commanded to celebrate Christmas? Why do some people not?
there is no command to celebrate Christmas in the bible
1. But there is also nothing wrong with it if it is done with honoring Christ
2. And so notice how Paul describes the way we celebrate the festivals in
1 Corinthians 5:8 NASB95
8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
i. Let us live the Christian life in a holy way
ii. It is about saying no to sin described by the leaven and yes to God
iii. The sin was not something that could be allowed to be accepted in the church.
b. Now, is Paul just pulling this completely out of context? NO
c. See, Passover was barely ever celebrated
2 Kings 23:22- For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.
d. Second Chronicles 30:1, 3, 13, 15 describes a Passover during the reign of Hezekiah
i. & this happens right after a time of national repentance
ii. Passover was a response to the repentance of God’s people
iii. So Paul takes it because the source… a repentance heart leads to proper festival
Paul explains that when it comes to these religious holidays be convinced in your mind by making it about Jesus
five times in verses 6–8 Paul says people do things ‘to the Lord’ and finally that we all ‘belong to the Lord’
In the same way 1 tim 4:5 says
1 Timothy 4:4–5- For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
The one who eats meat could give thanks to God for the delicious bacon in front of him& the one who doesn’t eat meat can thank God for yummy vegetable suit
& the one who doesn’t eat meat can thank God for yummy vegetable suit
Both are making their choice for Christ
What the conscience tells someone is extremely important because it says what they believe God expects for them
Thus it should never be violated
But a conscience can be wrong
Paul even admits his conscience isn’t perfect in 1 cor 4
1 Corinthians 4:4- For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
Pastor John Reisinger writes, “Conscience is not a lawgiver. It does not teach us what is right and wrong. It functions as a judge to apply the law that has been given to it. Conscience is not an infallibly safe guide, because it can be trained to obey wrong standards. Some people can commit the most horrible deeds and feel they are doing what is right”
Illustration
Our conscience must not be ignored, but a clean conscience is worthless if it is not submitted to Christ
This is shown When Sir Walter Raleigh was led to his death by beheading in 1618, he was asked in what manner he would extend himself on the block.
He answered, “So the heart be right, it is no matter how the head lies.”
Although Raleigh’s statement here is true, his did not live a godly life
His guilt of piracy, among others was against him
So the conscience must not just be exist, it must be in submission to christ
Application
How can you explain how Christ cleanses our conscience to someone?
I would argue 2 ways
One we have to try to obey Christ, feeling guilty when we disobey him because Jesus said,
John 14:15- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
But secondly, the fact is that we do disobey his commands, we are guilty, and our conscience should accuse us at times
To submit a conscience to Jesus is to let me cleanse it them
Hebrews 9:14- how much more will the blood of Christ….purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Sometimes we want to pay off our debt and we do penance to try to clean our conscience, but to change the hymn slightly
What can make my conscience clean?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Trans: and the last reasons we must obey our conscience is at the end of the chapter

4) Your conscience determines your sin, so obey it (v22-23)

Explanation
How do we know this is not passage about not sharing your faith,
faith in this chapter refers to what someone one believes is ok todo
So whatever you are convinced regarding these conscience issues, that you should do
And so you will be blessed if you do this
But what if you doubt? What if you go against what you believe you should do, even if it is not explicitly a sinYou sin
You sin
Illustration
David’s census in 2 Samuel 24 is a perfect example
Read 2 Samuel 24:1-3, 10
David does a counting of all the soldiers in Israel
But this wasn’t a sinful thing to doit was commanded in the book of numbers
it was commanded in the book of numbers
But the reason David did it was wrong
David would reflect
Psalm 20:7- Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
David’s action came from an obvious lack of trust and pride in his own power& this wasn’t some hidden sinful motive… Joab knew it was wrong and begged him to not do so
& this wasn’t some hidden sinful motive… Joab knew it was wrong and begged him to not do so
Everything a Christian does should be because he believes it honor the lord… there is no secular issues, so, if a christian believe something is wrong, and he does it anyway, then it was sinful
so, if a christian believe something is wrong, and he does it anyway, then it was sinfuleven if the action itself wasn’t sinful
even if the action itself wasn’t sinful
Application- Simple application here
if your conscience tells you something is wrong… do not do it. No matter what anyone else does, do not do it
Martin Luther famously said in that moment of crisis, “I can’t recant. My conscience is held captive by the word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”
We’ll get into how to correct train your conscience
But the rule must be, never go against conscience
Conclusion
Cohesion- Why should I listen to conscience?
Your conscience is from God and thus exists to show you right from wrong
Your conscience may not always be correct, but it always shows accurately what you believe
And since you, as christian, believe you should honor christ with whatever you do
So if your conscience says you’re doing wrong, then you should stop because it does not honor Christ
Resolution-
Let your conscience be your guide
But the guide should lead you to Jesus
It is not until you know your sin that you will know the sweetness of the savior
This is the gospel, the good news that though we have done evil
God is his goodness has punished his son instead of us
So that if you trust and follow Him, he takes the penalty of everything you are guilty of doing.
And Christian, you still need the gospel
Because you will strive for a clean conscience
But you will fail
And the conscience is wrong not just at assigning sin for spilling eggnog, but the conscience is also wrong when it ignores God’s great grace in us
Discussion questions
What does the bible say the conscience is?
Can you explain how you have seen your conscience be a gift protecting you from something or convicted you over something you have done?
Why do people not see their conscience as a gift and attempt to suppress it?
Why does God want us to listen to our conscience?
How do you go about being convinced in your mind regarding an issue like the holy days in Romans 14?
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