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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is It the Holy Spirit or Just My Conscience?

Years ago Memorex asked the question, "Is it live or is it Memorex?" The reproductive quality of their tapes made this indistinguishable. It made some of us wonder how much lip-syncing was going on.

The question before many Christians is whether the voice in their heads is their conscience or the Holy Spirit telling them what to do. Some times these are almost indistinguishable.

Webster defines conscience as: "the sense of consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right of be good." Many people would say that this sounds very much like the conviction of the Holy Spirit. On some things your conscience and the Holy Spirit may agree fully. There are several differences, however.

A conscience is a developed morality. There may be a sense of right and wrong that God has given to everyone. This sense of right and wrong may be seared by a constant contradiction by the environment. Thus, a person may accept something that grieves God as good and grieve over things that God counts as good. Their sense of right and wrong exists but it is not the same as God has.

The conscience may forget lessons learned in the past. Thus, we are able to do things that we would clearly say is wrong but do so without recognizing that we are doing them. Many a woman has told me that she knew she shouldn't have an intimate relationship with a man outside of marriage but did so anyway. She became emotional, forgot about her lessons from past relationships and did what she had once said she would never do again. She said she didn't know what she was doing. Her conscience never said this was the wrong thing because it forgot the downfalls of sin.

The conscience is unpredictable. It is built upon the values a person develops. Values are not inherited. Something within the individual accepts certain things as right and wrong. Thus, there is honor among thieves because they have a standard that makes no sense. How can someone say that he can steal from others without being bothered by his conscience while being hounded by his conscience for telling who his accomplices in crime were? He does so because he values being true to those who helped him in crime. He doesn't value the person from whom he stole.

The Holy Spirit reminds us what Jesus has said. His morals are never changing. Stealing or adultery is always a sin. The Holy Spirit convicts. This conviction requires that you move closer or farther away from the Lord. The Spirit longs for fellowship with our spirit and this fellowship ends when we stay in sin.

The Holy Spirit will lead you into things that will challenge your values. He will lead you to accept roles. He will lead you to speak and even speak through you to accomplish the Lord's will. He will have you say things you had never intended. You may even wonder who said what you just said. He will do so through you.

The Holy Spirit will explain God's word to you. He will give you insight. Sometimes He will change your conscience. The conscience which is being developed can change for the better. He will show you through God's word right and wrong. This will be indelibly printed into your being.

The Holy Spirit will empower you to walk through things which seem impossible. The Holy Spirit will calm your spirit when the world is crushing you. He will give you strength to walk through cancer, divorce, financial ruin or any difficulty that faces you.

How can you tell if it is your conscience or the Holy Spirit? They are indistinguishable when your conscience agrees with God's will. There are some questions you can ask yourself that may help you tell the difference:

Is this consistent with God's written word, the Bible? If it isn't, it is not the Holy Spirit.

Is this leading me closer to God? If it doesn't, it is not the Holy Spirit.

Do other strong believers believe this is of God? If they don't, you should re-examine whether this is of God or not.

Does this make me want to be with believers or stay away from them? The Holy Spirit desires fellowship with other believers.

These questions should eventually be unnecessary. Consistently following the Lord will result in recognizing His voice. Then, your conscience will be in full agreement with the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, the Holy Spirit gives glory to the Son. I find my conscience patting me on the back for my virtue.

May the Holy Spirit lead you. May your conscience serve by being in agreement with Him.

1 comment:

Royce said...

Very much appreciated, and very well explained.
Thank you sir.