Friday, October 29, 2010

The Folly of the "Bound Conscience"

Do not appeal to your "Bound Conscience" and be wary of those who do. To appeal to your captive conscience is pure folly. Why? Three reasons:

First, your conscience can be trained and conditioned. Your conscience is not sovereign and you exert influence (sometimes unintentionally) over your conscience. Appeals to conscience are all well and good so long as that conscience is sound, but consciences have also been appealed to for some of the most dastardly evil acts in history.

Second, you should not be bound to your conscience. Your conscience should be bound to the word of God. Do you see the subjectivism and subtle idolatry in the former and the humble piety of the latter? Your conscience is YOURS. Binding yourself to it is saying that you are binding your actions to yourself. That's not selflessness. That's narcissism. That is the road to egotistical self-righteousness.

Third, the Gospel of Christ is not about binding consciences but freeing them. A man who deals happily with his bound conscience wanders dangerously close to legalism. It is not the primary intent of the Law of God to hold people to a system of moral edicts. It is the intent of the Law to convict and kill. The Law always accuses and drives sinners to desperation and repentence.

Notice that Luther said, "My conscience is captive to the Word of God," and not "I am bound to my conscience." The Word is authoritative. The Conscience is your human opinion which is only helpful when it is conformed to the authoritative Word. You see here that Luther makes God's Word the master of his conscience and himself. Alternatively, people today make their consciences master over their actions and thereby make themselves their own god by placing their own interpretations and opinions between God and their choices. It allows other influences to shape their conscience that do not come from the objective truth of divine revelation. From there it is a very simple thing to have the conscience dictate opinions and interpretations to God as is prevelant in the liberal and enthusiast church bodies.

More often than not, when people speak of their bound conscience, they are using it to justify a false opinion or ill-conceived scheme. It is only when they say that their consciences are bound to God's Word that they are dealing with God honestly on His terms.

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