Summary: To say we should let our conscience be our guide seems so reasonable. It almost makes sense. But God never said we should do that. Instead He said we should seek to have a clear conscience. How can we accomplish this?
OPEN: This is the final week of our series: “Stupid things even Christians believe. This week we’re focusing on an old piece of advice:
“Let your conscience be your guide.”
Have you ever heard that said?
Of course, we all have.
At the core of this proverb is the idea that our consciences will never be wrong.
The problem is – that’s not always so.
To help illustrate me lay the groundwork for this sermon, I’d like to play a clip from Mark Lowry describing a movie he saw about Jesus when he was four.
Begin at 3:08 “when you’re 4 that screen goes on for days”
And play till you get to 7:24 “he was scared to death that I might”)
Today is Palm Sunday.
Many churches acknowledge this as a special Sunday because this was the day that Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on donkey and began His final week of ministry.
When He entered the city, the crowds went wild.
Here came the hope of Israel… the future King of Israel.
The man who’d fed 1000s with a little boy’s lunch.
The man who’d healed the sick, the lame, the leprous and the blind.
The man who’d raised the dead.
With Him as King… no power on earth could stand against Israel.
He was the KING of Israel, the POWER of God, the LEADER who would deliver them from Rome. And to honor Him, the people spread Palm branches before Him.
John 12:13 tells us they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, shouting: "Hosanna! ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!"
Hosanna… Hosanna… Hosanna.
Hosanna meant “Lord, save us.”
The people believed that Jesus was sent by God to be their deliverer and for a few days they thanked God and sang His praises. Because they truly believed this man was their deliverance.
But by the end of the week, things had changed.
The same crowd that shouted Hosanna on Sunday, by Friday was calling for His death.
They gathered and watched as the Sanhedrin had arrested Him and delivered Him to the Romans to be crucified.
The crowds that once cried “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!" (Now) cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!"
Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?"
The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!" John 19:15
How could these people praise Him on one day, and curse Him just few days later?
How could they do something so evil as to call for the death of a man who’d done no wrong?
Why hadn't their conscience convicted them of the wickedness of what they were doing?
Why hadn't their conscience GUIDED them?
Well… it had.
Their conscience WAS guiding them.
Their conscience was telling them that…
A REAL king of Israel would never allow Himself to be arrested by the Romans.
A REAL King of Israel would never be condemned by the Sanhedrin.
That’s what their “conscience” was telling them.
And if the Sanhedrin and the Priests believed He was to be crucified well, so be it.
That’s what their conscience said to them.
And their conscience was wrong.
You see, our conscience is not a mystical force.
It’s just a part of the soul that God created within us to help us make decisions.
AND everybody has one.
Romans 2:14-15 tells us “when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while THEIR CONSCIENCE ALSO BEARS WITNESS...” (ESV)
God created the conscience to be our inner voice.
And everybody’s got one.
Even those who are pagans, who don’t believe in God, have a conscience.
Everybody is guided by a force within them that helps decide right and wrong.
Everybody has that voice inside them that convicts them of guilt and shame when they've done things they shouldn't.
It’s like an inner GPS.
It helps you know where you are AND where you should be going.
But like GPS units, your conscience can be fed the wrong information and you can end up going places you really don’t want to go.
You do realize that GPS can give you the wrong information don’t you?
ILLUS: A year or so ago, a 67-year old Belgian woman, followed her GPS directions and ended up going 800 miles in the wrong direction!
It happens! GPS units are dependent on the source of information they get.
And it also happens with our conscience.
Your conscience feeds on what you give to it.