So I’ve begun facilitating a Bible study with other ladies who are a part of the Protestant Women of the Chapel. We’re working through Pricilla Shirer’s “Discerning the Voice of God” and this morning I was reminded about the difference between being led by your conscience and being led by God’s Spirit. First a quote and then some thoughts:
“Our spirits are the core essence of who we are. Likewise, every human has a deep inner voice called a conscience. This voice guides and directs our choices. It’s that sense deep inside that you should or shouldn’t do or say something. Even non-Christians can be moral people. Their conscience helps direct their choices. The problem with following your conscience is that every person’s conscience is formed and developed based on their personal environment and specific life circumstances. Each person’s conscience has been shaped by the tradition and truth or lies to which it has been exposed….When you become a Christian, your spirit becomes new. You don’t become changed, you become exchanged. The Spirit of the Living God indwells your human spirit. He gives you new life. Now that you have been exchanged as a believer, your spirit is under the control of the Holy Spirit. God begins to change your mind, will, and emotions to reflect His thoughts and feelings. As you surrender your life and obey His written Word, He begins to reprogram your conscience. Your Spirit-led conscience starts to discern between sin and righteousness and instructs you accordingly.”
First, I would like to say that this is spot on. Even in our fallen nature we are still in the image of God, which includes a spirit. Because Adam and Eve, we also have a knowledge of right and wrong, but I’m very glad that Mrs. Shirer points out that that conscience is shaped by our environment and circumstances and not initially by God. This is part of the problems with the response that we get from people when they say that they are “good people.” The fallacy lies in the fact that their compass of good is inherently skewed. She gave an example of a woman who grew up in a home where divorce over trivial matters was common and the struggle a young Christian was having against this “normal” that had been programmed into her conscience.
Second, I love the fact that she points out that we are “exchanged” when we become Christians. We are given a new life and it is spotless before God because of the blood of Christ. We are even given new hearts and Spirits that are directly connected with a Holy God who wants to continue to mold us into the image of His Beloved Son.
Third, this changing cannot be accomplished without our obedience to the Word and knowing what the Word says about all things. As we study the Bible, God’s indwelling Spirit molds our minds and hearts away from our previous “normals” so that our new normal lines up with Christ’s teachings and the Father’s Will. Our moral compass is now guided by the Spirit and will never be contrary to what the Bible says because the Spirit will never be in conflict with the Father or the Son. If your choices are in conflict, you’d better stop and pray for true discernment because you’re likely to be following your old conscience and normals instead of the Spirit.