Making Biblical Decisions: Training Your Conscience, Part 2 – May 24, 2024

To use the God-given alarm system of the conscience, we should teach our conscience what those good, right, and true things are. The word discern in Ephesians 5:10 refers to the idea of putting to the test. We should constantly evaluate the situations, thoughts, beliefs, and convictions we come in contact with to understand what pleases God. This testing must have a standard against which we examine all we come into contact. Unfortunately, we often measure our experiences and beliefs according to our feelings. As a result, our conscience responds either by excusing our actions or making dark accusations against us. “Error, human wisdom, and wrong moral influences filling the mind will corrupt or cripple the conscience.”[1]

How, then, should the Christians train their consciences? The writer of Hebrews informs us through one of the most glorious passages of Scripture. In Hebrews 10, the writer demonstrates that Christ has perfectly fulfilled the Law for us. He is the great and better High Priest who has procured our atonement by sacrificing His perfect blood. For millennia, God required sacrifice to atone for man’s guilt. However, these sacrifices did not atone for man’s sin. Instead, they pointed to the perfect atonement that would come through the sacrifice of the Sinless Christ.

Because we no longer stand in condemnation before God (Romans 8:1), we can now confidently enter God’s holy throne room through prayer. As we enter with confidence, the writer of Hebrews challenges us to come with consciences sprinkled clean and washed with pure water. Christians seek to find what pleases God to approach God with a clean conscience. Verses 26-31 reveal that we strive to refrain from sin. While verses 32-39 reveal that we do this by understanding our faith and the sacrifice of Christ.

The author of Hebrews is building off the concept that Paul presented to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 5. As Paul presents a picture of a biblical marriage relationship for the church, he reminds them that marriage is to be a picture of the Gospel. In verse 26, Paul reveals that God has redeemed His church (us) and will present us blameless before God by washing us with the water of the Word. So, we can see that the primary way we train our conscience is through God’s Word. We understand what pleases God by understanding God through His Word. This means that we must constantly study God’s Word. And, as we study, we must do so, not just to re-enforce what we already think, but to challenge, refine, and change what we believe.

Pastors often teach their congregations to allow God’s Word to adjust their framework. We all have a framework by which we think and act. Our default position is to force our framework onto Scripture and use Scripture to bolster our ideas. If we come across a text that challenges our framework, we ignore it. Yet, when we do this, it has tragic results on our conscience. Our consciences remain uncalibrated and give us wrong results. So, we must read Scripture with humility so that it can change our thinking.


[1] MacArthur, The Vanishing Conscience, 39.