Summary: A look at the danger that comes with claiming that our conscience is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. We have traded blush on our cheeks for a shrug of our shoulders.
GETTING RID OF SHAME: We frequently trade blushing for shrugging.
- This is such a rich phrase here in verse 12 – they don’t even know how to blush.
- Sometimes we act like the heart and conscience will always be a reliable artiber of what’s right and wrong, but we can dull and misdirect it.
- Today, too often, we have traded the blush on our cheeks over having been caught doing something wrong with a shrug of the shoulders that it really isn’t that big a deal, if it’s wrong at all.
- Historic examples of absurd or egregious things that have been deemed acceptable.
- God’s truth is absolute truth.
- We don’t like the notion of shame.
- No doubt, there is a prudish Victorian manifestation of it that can raise its ugly head, but that’s not the same thing as saying that it does not have its rightful place.
- There are things that our culture says is ok that we’ve excused that the Bible says are wrong. There are also things in our personal lives that the Bible says we should be doing that we no longer blush about ignoring. We just shrug our shoulders.
- In each culture, there are blind spots. There are things we say are ok and all agree are alright, but are not right before God.
2. Living together.
- Genesis 2:24.
- Now, let’s shift and talk about some things that aren’t as likely to get “Amens” because they’re more common within the church.
- Having been a Christian for a long time can be dangerous at this point because we get relaxed in “acceptable Christian behavior” mode and don’t actually focus on what the Bible has to say.
- And yet often we see the verses, we see what God is calling us to and we’re not even embarrassed that we’re ignoring it. We just shrug our shoulders and move on.
- Shame is unpleasant and we want to throw it away in total.
- The truth however is that though it is unpleasant it serves a useful purpose: to push us back toward God’s standard.
THE WRONG GAUGE: Although we often rely on it, the heart is not fully reliable indicator of right and wrong.
- “I just need to follow what my heart tells me is right,” we’ll say.
- Today we say things like, “I don’t feel bad about it” or “I think it’s ok” and presume that if our heart isn’t bothering us about it then it must be ok. Our heart and conscience can be useful at times, but they can be fooled.
- In fact, sometimes “I don’t feel bad about it” is not a sign that it’s ok, but a sign that your heart has become sufficiently hard that you’re not bothered anymore. It can be a danger sign.
- You can be totally comfortable. . . and totally guilty.
- We acknowledge that the lack of conscience in a serial killer does not justify his horrific actions or excuse his guilt, but then we don’t apply the same standard to our lives – we presume that the lack of guilty feelings means we’re ok.
- Your feelings are not the arbiter of truth.
- We all want our pet sin to be winked at by God while the sins of our enemies receive harsh punishment.
- We want our pet sin to be winked at by God, but then we’re horrified by the larger cultural implications of everyone running after what they want to do.
- We say we want a country that does what’s right, but that’s merely a result of a lot of individuals who do what’s right.
MAKING SURE I DON'T JUSTIFY WHAT'S WRONG:
1. Treat the Bible as a more accurate judge of right and wrong than your heart.
- We have to come back to the truth that the Bible is truth.
- When the Bible says one thing and my heart tells me another, which one is wrong?
- This is hard because the Bible is going to push us individually in ways we might not want to go.
- This is hard because the Bible is going to put us in positions where we’re in the minority within society on issues.
2. Pray Psalm 139:23-24.
- These verses have wonderful phrases of confession.
- We need to come before God when we’re looking at our heart and ask God, “Reveal where I’m off-track. Show me where I need to make changes. Point me in the right direction. Show me sin I haven’t even seen yet.”
- This is not an easy thing. Changing our heart is hard and painful. It’s so much easier to just flow with the downhill stream.