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Faith and Conscience

Faith and Conscience

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. In this section, Paul is talking about how we should treat those of weaker faith than ourselves. It’s important that we don’t cause them to fall away by our actions.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:5-6

This is a very important concept for us to understand. That’s because this type of difference will always be the case in the body of Christ.

Someone believes that he cannot please God and buy a scratch ticket. Someone else believes that it’s okay. The fact is that neither of these conditions matter to God.

The key is that what you do is because in your mind you are fully persuaded by faith. Based upon your knowledge of the Word, you believe that what you’re doing is right before God. It cannot be simply because someone else told you to do it or not do it.

I looked at this next verse in my last post.

But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.

1 Corinthians 8:7

The catch is that when you were involved in something questionable before you came to Christ, it weakened your conscience in that area. Now that you’re in Christ, there’s a pain in your conscience until it heals. However, in some people it never heals.

For us to look down on someone in this condition, is wrong. I’ve also seen some militant believers try to push these weaker ones to do what their hurting conscience is telling them not to do. This is equally wrong, and maybe even worse.

If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8

If you’re fully persuaded by your faith, then what you do, you do for your love of God. You do what you do in thankfulness and under submission to God. We don’t live for ourselves – our lives belong to the Lord.

If, on the other hand, I’m doing things for selfish reasons, or because someone told me to do it, that’s wrong. I need to live under the attitude that I belong to God. I need to be fully persuaded that what I’m doing brings glory to God.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Romans 14:9

This is why Christ died and rose from the dead. It was so that He’s Lord over the living and the dead. We need to get a handle on this.

When a person dies, they don’t cease to exist. We mourn because we lose the ability to fellowship with them for a little while. The fact is that when I die all that happens is I change my address.

That’s what we need to see. Jesus Christ is Lord over all. It’s His world. We don’t make the rules, He does.

I can’t judge you by my own definition of right and wrong. Neither can you judge me. That’s not our assignment. We all submit to the One, true God.

Question: How have you experienced the judgment of others in the past?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Authority and Conscience

Authority and Conscience

As we continue through the book of Romans, Paul sums up his teaching on God-given authority.

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

Romans 13:5

As far as believers go, we don’t submit to our authorities because we fear wrath or punishment. According to Paul, our consciences should be telling us it’s the right thing to do. We need to learn to listen to the inner voice of our conscience.

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.

2 Corinthians 1:12

Our conscience is a very important part of our being. God has given us a conscience to work with our spirit and God’s grace. It’s important to understand how it functions.

Our conscience puts together what we know from God. It then applies it to our present situation. As it continues to operate, it either tells us that our actions are right or wrong.

Unfortunately, many of us have learned to ignore our conscience. We find ways to justify what we want to do, even though we know it’s not God’s will for us.

There are times when we’ll blame others. They give us godly advice and in response, we get upset at them. “Why are you trying to make me feel guilty.”

Most of the time it’s because they care about us. They’re not trying to put guilt on us. It’s just that our conscience agrees with them. Instead of fighting it, we should learn to listen to the voice of our conscience. We could avoid a lot of trouble that way.

If you continue to ignore your conscience for too long, there’s a terrible effect that this has on your life.

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

1 Timothy 4:2

People in this condition are walking in hypocrisy. They say that they love God and are serving Him. Yet, it’s obvious from their life that this is far from the truth.

I said all that to reinforce the fact that we need to listen to our consciences in regard to submission to our God-given authorities. It’s a normal part of life. Paul gives us some practical applications.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Romans 13:6-7

Paul makes a clear statement. Because of our understanding of authority and submission, we should pay our taxes. That’s because there are those giving their full time to governing. They’re our public servants.

You may not like the person in office or the public officials you have to deal with. That’s not the issue. It’s all about what’s right, and listening to our inner man.

He makes it clear that we need to pay all that we owe. Paul uses different words to describe these debts. Taxes and revenue are what we pay on property and income. Actually, they tried to trip Jesus up with this question.

The word translated, respect, is literally the Greek word for fear. From my perspective, God is the only one fear is owed to. This covers what Jesus answered about taxes. Give Caesar his portion (money) and give God what belongs to Him (fear).

Finally, honor is the value you place on someone. Without value there’s no honor. We need to value each other. This is how we stay in the flow of God’s authority.

Question: How well do you follow the voice of your conscience?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2021 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Navigating the Grey Areas

We’re approaching the conclusion of Paul’s teaching on the grey areas of sin.  These are activities that the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about.

The apostle now gives some advice on how to handle these things.  The specific issue he’s dealing with is the eating of food that had been previously brought as a sacrifice to a pagan temple.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
1 Corinthians 10:25-26

God has placed His Holy Spirit within each of us as believers.  If the Bible is silent about it, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t activate our conscience, then don’t over-think it.  If it troubles your conscience, then keep away from it.

That’s for you as an individual.  There’s more advice once others are involved.

If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1 Corinthians 10:27

If an unbeliever invites you to an activity, and your conscience isn’t troubled, then you’re free to go.  The fact is that we need to be cultivating healthy relationships with the unchurched.  How else will they be affected by the Gospel of Christ?

That was easy, but what about a mixed crowd of both believers and unbelievers?

But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.  For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?  If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
1 Corinthians 10:28-30

This is where it begins to get complicated.  I now have to take my mind off myself and think of the good of others.  I can’t just run rough-shod over another person’s conscience and proclaim, “I’m free in Christ to do what I want.”

We have to be sensitive to the maturity level of those around us.  We don’t want to be the cause of an offense that hinders their walk with God.

“Well, they just need to grow up!”

Try telling that to a three-year-old.  Growth takes time and nurturing.  Take your eyes off yourself, and be a blessing rather than a hindrance.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33a

The bottom line is that it’s not about me, but God receiving the glory from my life.  I should be able to live with a little inconvenience in order for God’s kingdom to advance.  Our goal should be that the name of Christ is exalted.

Question: Why is sensitivity to the needs of others so important to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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