This is kind of a long one, hopefully you’ll read through all of it.
Hopefully you’ve noticed the pattern in Judges where the Israelites “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served…(fill in the blank) therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, he sold them into the hand of…(fill in the blank). The people of Israel would cry out to the Lord and God would raise them up a deliverer” and so on. At the conclusion of Judges you’ll notice the final verse:
25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Jdg 21:25)
So what happens when everyone does what is right in his own eyes? Let’s be clear here and make sure our hermeneutics are sound: in context, we are not lead spiritually by our king, we are NOT Israel, we are not the main characters in view, we are not trying to conquer the promised land (that wasn’t promised to us)…however there are a number of valid points with their illustration that we can learn and apply to our walk from the closing remarks in Judges. First off the statement, ”Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” was also stated back in chapter 17. You can also notice just how corrupt things can get quickly when the authority of God (then mediated through their king) is rejected.
So how can I jump this into the 21st century and compare this to our situation on solid ground? First off did you ever think you would live in a time when it was debatable whether or not you were a boy or girl? That sounds ridiculous…and it is, it’s just that’s what our current situation is. We question whether sin is really sin. Is it just an alternate life style or is it sin. That’s your interpretation. This is not a rant on what a sin filled world we live in it’s more of a question as to how it happens? Solomon declared there was nothing new under the sun (Ec 1:9). He’s right there is nothing new including how Israel ended up doing what was right in their own eyes.
The pattern goes something like this: God has given everyone a conscience (man alone has a conscience that allows them to distinguish morally against what is right and what is wrong). That is one of the issues that distinguish man from everything else. This conscience can re-calibrated 2 ways. First you don’t obey it and there comes a time when you won’t have the ability to obey it because you have seared it. Second, you can recalibrate it wrongly by reestablishing it with rules and regulations that don’t agree with God’s standard. You have made it a weak conscience that is over-sensitized and it is of very little value. You end up doing what is right in your own eyes and not according to God’s standard. I’ve attached a sheet of basic information on the conscience that I spoke on a while back. I’ve listed all the pertinent verses from Scripture that apply to conscience. If you have any further questions feel free and email me from the gym website. I hope you enjoy the material.
3 questions before you begin:
1. How can a young man keep his way pure? (Psalm 119:9)
2. How are you sanctified? (see John 17:17)
3. How can we know the will of God? (Rom 12:1-3)
What is the conscience?
It is a gift
It is personal – Rom 14, 1 Cor 8
No ones’ matches God’s will perfectly
It is damageable (p 29)
Insensitive – 1 Tim 4:2
Oversensitive – Packing it with too many rules that are matters of opinion, not right and wrong.
2 principles of conscience (Acts 5:29)
God is the only Lord of our conscience –1 Cor 4:4
You should always obey it – Rom 14:5b, 23
“The Heart” is the seat of the whole person – your inner life is like a council where the decisions of your life are established. Sitting on the council (of your mind, heart) are your will, conscience, feelings, memory, imagination and affections – Matt 15:18-20
“Conscience gives you the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and desires. It gives you that capacity to discern what is right and wrong, and to distinguish between what is good and what is best. Without conscience you would be like an animal, acting only on the basis of instinct. Conscience is a wonderful gift from God. It is to be trained, respected, and protected throughout your life.”
Working Definition-the conscience is your awareness of what you believe is right and wrong (note: not necessarily the same as what is actually right or wrong).
What can the conscience be?
Positive good, clear, blameless (bear witness in the Holy Spirit), clean, perfected, purified and sprinkled clean
Negative Weak, Defiled, Wounded, Seared
What does the conscience do?-
• Tells us what we are doing, relative to our motives thus revealing our standing with God.
• Knowledge and obedience trajectory comparison – Solution -only an ever increasing trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross can fill this ever widening gap. The only other options – DEFEND OR DENY
• “it is an appeal to God for a good conscience.”(1Pet 3:21)Not the external…the internal. Not the washing of dirt but of a good conscience…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Must worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24)
• “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Heb 9:14
• Only the gospel can cleanse a guilt ridden conscience
How do we calibrate our conscience?
A good conscience is like an alarm clock, it stays quiet when I should sleep but makes noise when I should wake up. Col 3:15.
A bad conscience, one that is either oversensitive or seared (Titus 1:15, 1 Tim 4:2), loses its ability to function as intended.
Paul strove to always have his conscience clear before God and Man. Acts 24:16
Only the Holy Spirit will insure a clear conscience. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8)
As in our alarm clock illustration the conscience must be powered by the Holy Spirit but it must be set. This is where taking in God’s Word to calibrate becomes essential. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
The conscience is strengthened by the Word of God.
The Old Testament sacrifices “were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper” (Heb. 9:9)
A good conscience is cleansed by the blood of Christ through the Word of God. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:14)
Redemption is all about our conscience being powered by the Holy Spirit, set by the Word, and cleansed by the blood of Christ.
What do we do when our consciences differ?
The two most relevant Scripture passages:
Romans 14, 1 Cor 8
1. Acts 23:1, 24:16
2. Romans 2:15; 9:1; 13:5
3. 1 Cor 8:7, 10, 12; 10:25, 27, 28-29 (3 times)
4. 2 Cor 1:12; 4:2; 5:11
5. 1 Tim, 1:5; 19; 3:9; 4:2
6. 2 Tim 1:3,
7. Titus 1:15
8. Heb 9:9b, 14; 10:2*, 22; 13:18
9. 1 Pet 2:19*; 3:16, 21