“Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord.”- Lamentations 3:40–66
A study of practical Christianity inevitably gives rise to a number of questions regarding its application. As you study general principles by which to govern your life, the specifics are often left to your own judgment. For example, the Bible condemns gluttony. As we discussed last month, this means that we are not to be enslaved to food but are to be temperate and responsible in our eating habits. This is the general principle, but how we apply it will vary from one individual to another. You might have a problem with eating too many sweets, and, as a result, you cannot have them in the house. Your friend may have no such problem. She can eat cookies and ice cream any time she wants without being tempted by gluttonous desires. She can control her eating while you cannot. Another person you know might be able to eat sweets once in awhile, but does not like having the temptation in the house. Each person in this scenario must apply the general principle established in the Scripture according to his or her own conscience. Each must know themselves to such an extent that they are able to discern how much they can eat, what they can eat, and when they can eat. This same principle can apply to many areas of our lives—drinking, use of time, recreation, work, etc.
Conscience plays a vital role in guiding each of us according to specific biblical principles. The conscience is particularly important as you wrestle with many of the topics addressed in Proverbs and the rest of Scripture. How you use your time, how you abide in your calling from God, how you use your money—all these habits must be dictated by your conscience which enables you to have a proper understanding of what God says about these things.
Because the conscience is so vital to the Christian life, we will spend this week studying the conscience, so we might live upright and pleasing lives before the Lord. If our consciences are clear, we will not only know how properly to apply biblical principles to our lives, but our Christian profession will be bolder, our prayers will be more fervent, our words will carry more weight, and our hearts will possess a deeper peace as our consciences remain clear before God and man.
Are your work habits, spiritual duties and beliefs, recreational habits, etc., in accord with God’s will? Choose one area in question to focus on this week. Search the Scriptures for biblical principles to guide you. After you’ve studied relevant verses, what does your conscience tell you concerning your behavior?
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 11:17–34
2 Corinthians 13