Following your conscience in religion

Published 8:58 pm Sunday, April 15, 2018

By Norm Fields
Minister, Church of Christ Northside

Usually, if someone is going the wrong direction they will realize it and change course.

If you’re going somewhere and take a wrong turn, you’ll realize it and get back on track. If you’re following a recipe and make a mistake, you’ll try to fix it or start over.

If you’re working a formula and take a wrong step, you’ll go back and find it in your work to correct it and proceed from there.

At some point in the process, you’ll realize your mistake and make the necessary correction.

Sadly, the one place this rarely happens is in religion. Spiritually, most people don’t even realize that there is a road map, recipe, or formula for being religiously correct.

In religion, the most common mindset is to just be sincere, “follow your conscience.”

In no other aspect of life do people think this is a good idea. How about instead of following the recipe for chocolate cake you “follow your conscience” to make the cake? The results may or may not be edible but it is really unlikely that it will turn out to be a good chocolate cake. Next time someone asks you for directions tell them to just “follow their conscience.”

They probably won’t take it kindly, and it certainly won’t help them get where they need to go. Next time your kids ask for help with their math tell them to just “follow their conscience.” But then don’t scold them for making a bad grade.

Of course, we know that in any of these areas there is a specific way things are to be done, a specific direction that must be taken. Why is it so difficult to accept that there is a specific direction for true religion? (2 Timothy 1:13).

Christianity is referred to as “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:23). The way of Christianity is specific. There is a specific recipe, formula, direction, pattern, for how to be a Christian. It isn’t done by just “following your conscience.” It is done by following God’s word!  Paul said that when he persecuted Christians — those of the way — that he did it in “all good conscience” (Acts 23:1).

He believed that what he was doing was right. The only way your conscience can “be your guide” is if it has been trained correctly in “the way.”

If what you believe is wrong then your conscience will guide you wrong.

Let the Bible be your guide, not your conscience. Study (2 Timothy 2:15), have your senses exercised (Hebrews 5:14), have your mind transformed (Romans 12:1, 2), by God’s word. Then, and only then, will you be able to trust your conscience because it will have been correctly trained.