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Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

(5)

Sermon shared by Michael Luke

October 2010
Summary: Our conscience is unreliable as our head referee in issues of right and wrong.
Audience: General adults
Sermon:
SERIES: SPIRITUAL URBAN LEGENDS
(This series freely adapted from Larry Osborne’s book: Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe)

“LET YOUR CONSCIENCE BE YOUR GUIDE”

1 CORINTHIANS 4:3-4

OPEN
In his book, Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, Larry Osborne tells about a man who came to him for counseling. This fellow’s marriage was in trouble and he was at odds with the federal government. It seems that years before, he had attended a seminar that had convinced him that the IRS and federal income taxes were illegal and unconstitutional. So he stopped paying federal income taxes and vigorously took up the cause to fight against them.
By the time he came to Osborne for counseling, he was in deep trouble. The government had seized his bank accounts and his paychecks were being garnished. He was working as a day laborer on a cash-only basis trying to avoid the government. His wife, who had once given in to her husband’s ideology and actions, was now upset, panicked, and threatening divorce.
As this man laid out his reasoning and actions, Osborne was stunned. It didn’t seem believable. He’d known this man and his wife for more than a year. They were faithful attenders at the church where Osborne preached. The guy even seemed to be a strong Christian with a high regard for the Scripture based on some of the discussion they’d had following a sermon.
Osborne thought the best approach in this situation, based on what he knew about this man, was to go over what the Bible had to say about paying taxes. They looked at passages that clearly teach and encourage Christians to submit to the governing authorities and to pay their taxes.
It didn’t matter what Osborne showed him in the Bible or what any court or legal expert said, this man was convinced about the legality and morality of his actions. Osborne says, “On a scale of one to ten, he scored a twelve in degree of certainty. He was absolutely sure he had done nothing wrong…”
What brought this man to this point in his life? It’s found in this statement the man made to Osborne. He said, “Ultimately, I have to let my conscience be my guide. After all, isn’t that why God gave me one?”
We’re in our series on spiritual urban legends. Today, we’re going to look at the spiritual urban legend that says, “Let your conscience be your guide.” Like all spiritual urban legends, this one is dangerous and can lead us way down the wrong path.




MYTH
In the 1940 Disney animated movie, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket sang a song to Pinocchio that said, “Take the strait and narrow path; and if you start to slide – give a little whistle, give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide.”
The man that Osborne tells us about bought into the Jiminy Cricket School of Morality. He trusted his own conscience above all else. He was convinced that it was his best and most trustworthy guide to morality. And as long as he had a clear conscience and a sense of inner peace about his decision, the matter was closed.
Before we judge the tax dodger too hard, we should probably consider that we – you and I – have probably made many of our own decisions and moral judgments
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