Skip to main content

On Guard

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. (I Timothy 1:19)

The conscience is made up of what we refer to as morals and principles - amassed while growing up. They act to define the actions we will allow in our lives and those we will reject because they don't align with this learned set of morals and principles. Whenever we are asked to violate our conscience, we might just feel a little anxious, fearful, or even guilty. In the strictest sense, the conscience has a "prohibiting" effect - if the conscience becomes a little "dulled" with the wrong set of morals or principles being applied, it may guide us into some pretty awkward circumstances. This is why we don't trust our conscience alone - it is only ONE tool used in the myriad of tools God gives us for our spiritual, emotional, and physical safety. Keep your conscience clear - the instruction is to not deliberately violate it. The smallest compromises in either our morals or principles can lead to the bigger ones. Our inward motivations dictate our outward actions - think about it long enough and you will act upon the thought! The other guiding influences in life are the Word of God, his Holy Spirit residing in us, and the sound teaching of godly people. Violate ALL of these and the road will be a really rocky one!

Conscience requires discipline - in order to form the right set of morals by which we make what people refer to as judgment calls. If your morals haven't been the best as you were growing up, or because you made compromises later on in life, there is still hope. Morals are just the "rules" of conduct by which we live - if you put Christ in charge of defining these, you will actually see them begin to change! You may have been raised in a home where criticism and nit-picking were just the "norm". In the community of believers where you now associate, this may not be considered very loving or kind. When we submit these "learned traits" to God, he goes about helping us "unlearn" them. Trust me, I know for a fact the things we have to "unlearn" are way harder than the ones we have to "learn"! We begin to realize the "changing of the guard" in our conscience whenever we begin to see the wrong choice before we make it, realizing it as a wrong choice. This is a good first step - learning to heed it is another! Conscience is "situational" at times - we go with it when it is the easiest choice, but we sometimes don't heed it when it is the toughest! How is it we get our conscience to not sell us short? I think it comes by keeping our eye on the three indicators of "right" or "wrong" in our lives - God's Word (what does it have to say about what it is we are about to do); God's Spirit (when is he giving us that internal "niggling" to respond or deny the response); and lastly, our conscience. I put conscience last because it is the least reliable source, so it doesn't deserve placement over God's Word or his Spirit!

Conscience can help us recognize sin in our lives - but not always stop us from engaging in sin. We need the other sources of "recognition", as well. Once we recognize sin has a foothold in our lives, there is but one response which is correct - turn away from it. This is what we call repentance. The most important thing if we want a change of conscience is the "changing of the guard" - determining who will be the center of our focus and choices. If it remains us, we will fail repeatedly because our conscience will not always protect us. If we choose to make Christ central in our world, the changing of the guard over our minds and choices becomes a reality! What does this look like? Perhaps it is learning to take a little time before we respond - just so we can be sure we are responding to the "right" voice. Maybe it is taking time to think about what we have learned from scripture - the "what does God say" principle. No guard is worth their weight in gold unless that guard actually preserves, protects, and pursues what is right. Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

Do me a favor

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:1-4) Has God's love made ANY difference in your life? What is that difference? Most of us will likely say that our lives were changed for the good, while others will say there was a dramatic change. Some left behind lifestyles marked by all manner of outward sin - like drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, or even thievery. There are many that will admit the things they left behind were just a bit subtler - what we can call inward sin - things like jealousy,