[ Out of editor Jerry C. Brewer's file drawer of clippings:
Biblically sound insight from 40 to 50 years ago... ]
We do with a good conscience anything that we have been led to think is right.
Sometimes by false teaching, men and women are led to do wrong — while their consciences do not condemn them. Sometimes sin may so harden the heart that men and women do wrong by habit with no sense of guilt.
But no man need think that just because his conscience fails to condemn him, he therefore does no wrong. "For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." (1 Jn. 3:20).
God sees and takes account of all sins our own conscience never notices or realizes. Our Lord does not allow sin and rebellion to go unpunished. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6:7).
A man's conscience may be so seared over that it takes no account of sin. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils: speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." (1 Tim. 4:1-2).
Certainly, such a conscience would not be a trustworthy guide. A man with such a conscience might do many sins with no feeling of guilt, but he would be lost at last, because he did not follow the written and revealed will of God.
Again, a man's conscience may be so uninformed and uneducated as to be an ignorant conscience. Thus, a man might do the best he knows, and still not do the right, because he doesn't know enough.
Paul showed himself to have been once in this condition. "I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day." (Acts 23:1). During this time, he was the very chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). He explains his good conscience while guilty of sin, saying, "I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Tim. 1:13).
Following an ignorant conscience does not give release from sin. "That servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." (Lk. 12:47-48). Here we see that ignorance is no excuse for sin.
Again, a man may so live and move and act as to finally have a conscience that is defiled. Such a conscience would permit a man to do almost anything in the category of sin without holding him guilty.
"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." (Tit. 1:15-16).
Such a conscience would be unfit to guide any soul seeking the truth. He who follows such a guide will be lost eternally without any doubt. Yet his conscience would not condemn him.
From these and other examples we learn how fickle a guide is any man's conscience. The Lord did not intend for us to do that which is contrary to our conscience, as long as our conscience is educated to condemn to what God's word condemns, and educated to approve only those things that God in His word approves.
The truth is that God never intended for men to follow their conscience as a standard of religion. He intended for them to follow the Book. The very fact that God gave the Bible to the world is evidence conclusive that no conscience is a satisfactory guide in religion.
God gave the Bible to do what no man's conscience can do — to serve as a guide from earth to heaven. Let us learn to follow the teachings of the Book without doubting or quibbling.