I Gave My Life to Christ: Now What? (part 6)
The final step for new Christians from Brownlow North is:
Never believe what you feel, if it contradicts God’s Word. Ask yourself, “Can what I feel be true if God’s Word is true?” And if both cannot be true, believe God’s Word and make your own heart the liar (Rom 3:4; 1 Jn 5:10-11).
Again, sound advice. If more people applied that rule, then Susan B. Anthony might never have said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
We, therefore, need an objective measure of truth. Our conscience does a pretty good job at showing us instinctively what is right and wrong. I often give the exampe of my daughter Ashleigh who (at 3) knows that when I tell her to or not to do something, that it is wrong to do the opposite. And when she inevitably does the opposite (show me a 3-year-old who obeys perfectly and I’ll marvel at your ability to create a cool robot–hopefully it follows Asimov’s Laws of Robotics!), she knows she did wrong.
She tries to get out of the punishment–usually no TV or a time out (I’ve spanked before, but I’m not a huge proponent; loss of privileges and time outs work just as effectively). But the point is she acknowledges that what she did was wrong and knows she shouldn’t do it.
Which brings us back to the average person. Knowing and doing are totally different. Everyone knows it’s wrong to steal, yet people are in jail for everything from petty theft to the Enron scandal. Everyone knows its wrong to cheat on your spouse, yet that is one of the main reason couples divorce.
So the conscience is effective at blowing the whistle, but we are equally as effective at ignoring the noise. And, more troubling, is that often we can delude ourselves into believing that God is on our side.
My pastor once told the story of a man who was fired from his job for embezzlement. During the search of his computer, they discovered e-mails proving that he was having an affair. When the boss fired him, he told the man that he was really concerned about the man’s relationship with God. The man told his boss, “I’m fine with God.”
Yeah. Think so?
What about pastors like Rob Bell who are very good at writing theological redefinitions of God that render eternal judgment unnecessary or plain evil, therefore a God of love would never consign someone to it? Instead of “Go, and sin no more” we are being told “Sin boldly, all will be forgiven.” That’s quite different than what Jesus would say, and very different from Paul’s message of grace.
No wonder Susan B. made the statement she did.
So, North’s rule stands. The Bible states “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).
Let’s not be Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs when it comes to our spiritual well-being. Though the conscience can be an excellent guide, we can ignore it in favor of pursing our own passions. Let Scripture stand as the objective measure by which we know what is right and wrong. Don’t trust your gut.