Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Right and Wrong and How to Know the Difference

I would like to start by looking at two sentences in the Bible that are not very well known. They were written about 1500 years apart.

“If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible.” Leviticus 5:17

“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” 1 Corinthians 4:4

Not knowing about a sin does not keep a person from being guilty, and having a clean conscience does not make the person innocent.

There is a reason for this. My knowledge and my conscience does not necessarily reflect the absolute (perfect) value system of God. To bring my conscience and absolute “right and wrong” together, there are a few basic truths to follow:

1) I must be a Christian.
At the time of my conversion to Christ, my conscience is made clean and sensitive to God’s moral law.

2) I must know the Scriptures well.
There is no excuse not to know God’s requirements. God has given us the Holy Bible containing His absolute standards. The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuilding, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

3) I must choose to obey God’s requirements.
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrew 5:12-14

Knowing the teaching does not train us. Knowing and doing is what trains us to distinguish good from evil.

“But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.” James 1:22-25

4) I must walk in the light.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

As I continually ask Jesus to cleanse me from my sins, my conscience keeps clean. As a result, my conscience works as God intended and I walk in the light. As I continue walking in the light with a clean conscience, I am learning the difference between right and wrong and I become aware of the Holy Spirit’s approval and guidance.

The Apostle Paul’s understanding of these truths is seen in these statements: “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 9:1

“…We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2

God is the source of all truth and of our knowledge of right and wrong. As we study the Scriptures, obey God’s requirements and continue to walk in the light, we can say with the Apostle Paul:

“…We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” 1 Thessalonians 2:10

*Adapted and used with permission.

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