The Weak Conscience
“Their conscience is weak, it is defiled.”- 1 Corinthians 8
While the conscience in the redeemed is awakened, it can still be influenced by sin and weakened by wrong information. One part of the sanctification process is to keep your conscience tender by knowing your own heart and the Word of God.
Paul dealt with problems of conscience in Romans 14. Those who rejected meat offered to idols were considered weak because, by conscience, they could not do something even though God had not forbidden it. Those who were free in this matter wrongly flaunted their freedom before their weaker brothers. Error stirs tensions when the weaker brothers wrongly judge those whose consciences are free. If you have a weak conscience, you can as easily develop a judgmental spirit as form legalistic notions, denying you and others freedom in Christ.
You do not possess an overly-scrupulous or weak conscience when you refrain from an activity that invites temptation. For example, if you are prone to drunkenness and you refrain from drinking alcohol, this actually reveals a discerning conscience. You only step into error when you dictate other people’s consciences according to your own, or if you consider something to be inherently wrong that God has not said is sinful—this is legalism.
A weak conscience is often characterized not only by a legalistic bent but by a lawless one. If you continue to sin in ways God has forbidden, or if you refuse to examine your own life for areas that are prone to sin, you are profaning your conscience. Many people sin too often in the name of Christian liberty. They either don’t know God’s law or they don’t know themselves. Often, they foolishly continue to engage in behavior that, though not inherently sinful is an impetus to sin.
Be it an overly-scrupulous conscience or a profane one, both must be avoided for a Christian to grow strong. Only with rigorous self-examination, thorough study of God’s Word, and faithful application of biblical principles can a follower of Christ say with Paul, “this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world … in the holiness and sincerity that are from God (2 Cor. 1:12).”
Has anyone ever called you judgmental? Do you consider something to be sinful that God has not? Do you try to be another’s conscience? Are you too loose with God’s Word? Do you feel uncomfortable around more conscientious Christians? If so, do you abuse Christian liberty and pamper sinful habits?
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 10
2 Corinthians 5