“How was your Bible study class last night?” Stan asked me one morning.
“Interesting,” I responded. “We are studying Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, and the class got into a somewhat heated discussion of conscience versus the Holy Spirit.”
“Oh, I’ve been in that discussion before,” Stan said with a smile. “There can be some strong feeling and opinions one way and the other. As I remember it, the point that usually comes up is that the apostle Paul used the word ‘conscience’ regarding what they were doing.”
“That’s right,” I replied. “That’s what we were discussing last night, and there came a point after we had just about talked the thing to death that I began to wonder if it really makes any difference. What do you think?”
“As far as I’m concerned,” Stan responded, “it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. As one who has accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross, have the assurance of salvation and redemption, and have been given the Holy Spirit to live within me, it’s His voice that’s important to me.”
“I recognize,” he continued, “that a nonbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit and, thus, is not guided by Him, so I guess it’s okay to say such a person is guided by conscience, but it doesn’t seem right to me to say that I am guided by my conscience rather than the Holy Spirit.”
“You think you will ever know for certain about this?” I asked.
Responding with a smile, he said, “This is one of the questions I have on my list to ask Paul when I see him. I’m going to ask him why he said, in essence, that his conscience was clear, rather than saying he knew he was being guided by the Holy Spirit.”
“However,” he added, “until I get the chance to ask him, I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference. It’s listening to the voice of God through the Holy Spirit in me that’s important. What I call that voice doesn’t matter as long as I recognize whose voice it is that is speaking to me. Recognize whose voice it is and obey what I am being told!”
Bible verses to consider:
For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12.
And Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” Acts of the Apostles 12:1.
However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the finished work of Christ on the cross that has gained for me the assurance of spending eternity with you when it’s time. Thank you, too, for the gift of your presence in me through the Holy Spirit who guards, guides, helps, and counsels me in the way of living the rest of my time on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not heed His voice because I choose to listen to voices other than yours. Please forgive me. And please lead me in following all you have for me to hear without being distracted from the truth that it is the Holy Spirit’s voice you have for me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Are you assured that you have the Holy Spirit of God living in you? Why or why not? If no, do you know how to have that assurance? If you do have that assurance, how are you doing with listening to His voice? Do you see a difference between the voice of “conscience” and the voice of the Holy Spirit? If so, what is that difference and how would you explain it to someone who asked?