Defiling Your Conscience

Some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

–1 Corinthians 8:7

The Corinthian Christians were boasting about their superior knowledge. What was this superior knowledge they had? Look at 1 Corinthians 8:4, 7: “Concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. . . . However not all men have this knowledge.”

Some of the Corinthians had just come out of idol worship, and they did not yet understand there is only one God. You might say, “Wait a minute–you can be a Christian and believe there is a multitude of gods?” To become a Christian, the only thing you have to believe is that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. You can be a Christian and believe all sorts of wrong things. And as you grow in the knowledge of the Word, you will become convinced of other biblical truths. But these new Corinthian believers had not yet come to the truth that there is only one real God.

Paul continued, “Some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” Imagine a brand-new Christian who has just come out of paganism. Because of the influence of another Christian, he begins eating this meat sacrificed to idols. His conscience tells him, “No, don’t do it,” but he does it anyway, and his conscience is defiled. What does that mean?

Your conscience is the internal warning system God places in every believer to warn you about what you should and should not do. When you become a Christian, God sets your conscience at a high level of sensitivity. Your faith is fragile, so God is very restrictive about what He will allow you to do, knowing how easy it would be for you to revert to your former way of life. As you grow in your faith, the more freedom you are able to exercise.

But when you violate your conscience, it is like you destroy that internal warning system. In 1 Timothy 4:2, Paul talked about people whose consciences have been seared “as with a branding iron.” That is a vivid picture. What happens if you put your finger into a flame? The flesh is seared, the nerve endings are destroyed, and eventually you cannot feel anything anymore. When you go against your conscience, you are destroying those spiritual nerve endings so there comes a point when you cannot feel God’s leading any longer. It is a terrible thing to violate your conscience. It is an equally terrible thing to cause somebody else to violate their conscience. We are not to do anything to hurt another Christian’s conscience.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Meat Market Christianity” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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