2012-09-26 - The Conscience isn't the
The Epistles of John ~ Part 64 ~ 1 John
Is conscience to be a guide for the believer's walk? Apparently the
false prophets, who were preying on the recipients of John's first epistle,
where using attacks on the heart, conscience, to try to bring these believers
around to their way of thinking. But, John, who apparently had seen "Pinocchio,"
said, "Don't let your conscience be your guide."
As we saw previously, in the next passage, John is concerned that as believers,
we learn to rely on the Lord to give us discernment in our life before him.
We found that we are to test all we hear, read and see against Scripture.
In this section, John informs us that even our own conscience isn't to be
the final arbitrator of truth.
God Knows the Truth: Verses 19-20: There is much confusion among
Christians regarding the place of conscience in their life. Some equate it
with the voice of the Holy Spirit. If their conscience convicts them, then
they must be in sin. The problem is the conscience, heart, fell with the
fall of humanity. It can't be relied upon. Conscience is not the voice of
the Holy Spirit.
Contextually, we can assume the false teachers were making some kind of appeal
to the "conscience" of these believers. The appeals were apparently effective.
This bunch must have been the politicians of their day. Anyway, they found
these believers' hot buttons, because John has to warn his readers that their
consciences were not the final arbiters of truth.
John states this in verse 19 of Chapter 3. The believer's confidence must
be in God - and not in the voice of conscience. We can be convicted by our
conscience of that which we are not guilty. But as Paul said:
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who
are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
Our conscience can tell us of guilt that we have already dealt with. This
means that Satan can still use our heart to condemn us.
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).
After all, Satan is called the accuser.
"For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before
our God day and night, has been hurled down" (Revelation 12:10).
But John says that our conscience can be set at peace in the presence of
God. We have the assurance that God is greater than the voice of conscience.
He will clearly let us know when we are in sin, but He will also let us know
when we falsely condemn ourselves. John says God is all -knowing. Even when
we seem to condemn ourselves correctly, we don't always have all the facts.
The bottom line, though, is that our sins are forgiven.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and
will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).''
To be continued.
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