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Is Conscience a Safe Guide in Religion?

Is conscience a safe guide in religion?Religious people often think that, as long as they do what they sincerely believe to be right, God will be pleased. They say, “Just let your conscience be your guide.”

Let me tell you about a man who sincerely followed his conscience. Before his conversion, he did not believe Jesus was the Christ, so he blasphemed Jesus. He opposed and persecuted followers of Jesus, even imprisoning them and voting to kill them. Clearly all Christians can see that he was wrong. In fact, he was later converted when he realized that he had been “the chief of sinners.” Surely in this condition he was not right with God.

But what about his conscience? Did his conscience tell him he was wrong? The man we are discussing was Saul of Tarsus. He himself said, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). In Acts 26:9 he said, “I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Saul was following his conscience, doing what he sincerely believed to be right, yet he was thoroughly wrong!

No, conscience is not a safe guide in religion. Your conscience simply tells you whether or not you are doing what you believe to be right. But if your beliefs are in error, then like Saul, you will be wrong even when you do not violate your conscience.

The human conscience is often wrong, but God´s word is never wrong (2 Timothy 3:16,17). The solution is: Let the Bible be your guide!

For more information about related topics, please visit our Bible Instruction web site at /instruct/ and study our in-depth articles there about the importance of Bible study, how to study the Bible, and the danger of human authority in religion. 

(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 9/2008

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