Was Jiminy Cricket right? You remember the small, dapper cricket character in Pinocchio, right? “Let your conscience be your guide? Let’s revisit the falsity of this problematic philosophy.
In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul states:
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
And so we see that the gospel for some is veiled. We see this in regards to our experience. Some see, some do not. Why? Does it have to do with intelligence? No, not at all. We saw from a couple weeks ago in 1 Corinthians 1:25-31 that God for His glory and so we would not boast, he would call the weak, the lowly, the disenfranchised, the fools—the outcasts of the world. So intellect, strength, networks, and wisdom do not lift the veil!
The veiling of the gospel gives evidence to the perishing and the judgment that will come to them. In the previous passage, we see from 2 Corinthians 3:12-16:
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
So not only were there “peddlers of the Word” who were simply preaching for personal gain, there were others who Paul preached to, his brethren the Jews, who by and large rejected his message. Jesus even had this happen, where he came to His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:10-11). It had nothing to do with Paul’s content, his passion, or his appearance. They read through the Old Covenant, which spoke of God’s commands and nature, they veil still remained because they rejected Christ—even saying that Jesus was not the one to fulfill this Messiah.
But keep in mind Luke 24:25-27, when two disciples encountered Jesus on the day of his resurrection. They could not understand the events that took place, and how the dream could be over. When they were done, he said,
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So again, it’s not from lack of intellect, it’s a lack of gospel light. Satan has deceived even some who know the Word of the Lord well, but do not know the Lord of the Word. Thomas Brooks once wrote:
Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst;
he promises honor and pays with disgrace;
he promises pleasure and pays with pain;
he promises profit and pays with loss;
he promises life and pays with death.
For some of you, it may surprise you that John Calvin, in his commentary on this passage, stated, “If anyone rejected his gospel, it was his own blindness that prevented him from receiving it.”
So what does this have to do with a clean conscience? We must not equate our consciences with the voice of God. Our consciences are simply a reflection of our worldview, our belief system. Mormons violate their consciences when they drink a Dr. Pepper or have a cup of coffee. Muslims violate their consciences when they fail to face Mecca five times a day. Jehovah’s Witnesses violate their consciences when they receive a blood transfusion.
I bring this up because, as I’ve mentioned in month’s past, men of character do not simply operate by their conscience. Even our own denomination has used this Jiminy Cricket approach in regards to various matters to “Let your conscience be your guide.” Our conscience is not the voice of God—it’s the voice of what we believe. Our consciences need scrubbing by the saving and cleansing blood of Christ, who died on the cross for our sins.
So our conscience is not a good guide—unless it’s a gospel-scrubbed conscience!