Stacy Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Fordyce, Arkansas (@rebman10) gave me a copy of Gregory Frizzell’s Returning to Holiness some time ago, and I’ve been reading through it over the past several weeks as a challenge for spiritual renewal. It’s subtitled A Personal and Churchwide Journey to Revival.
It’s been convicting, encouraging and clarifying in many areas. As I’ve read about a chapter a week and reflected on the questions and scriptures he uses, I’ve been reminded afresh of the importance of a regular personal spiritual inventory.
In one chapter, he deals with the matter of how often Christians violate their conscience. It’s not a topic I’ve heard people speak much of, but it’s clearly a biblical principle. Consider these scriptures:
“Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” (Romans 13:5 ESV)
“So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” (Acts 24:16 ESV)
“They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Timothy 3:9 ESV, speaking of leaders in the church)
The definition of conscience is “an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”
Let me quote from Frizzell directly about how we violate our consciences:
If you are involved in something about which you have a nagging lack of peace, you are in sin. Indeed, a crucial phrase in the great Welsh revival was, “Brother or sister, are there any controversies between you and God?” Frequently, we rationalize and labor to convince ourselves something is all right with God. Yet, if you don’t have peace, deep down in your heart, you know you don’t! Friend, if you ignore God’s still small voice, you cannot walk in the fullness of His Spirit. When you resist God’s Spirit, you enthrone your flesh, and begin to operate in your own human strength, rather than Christ’s supernatural power. This is precisely why many believers are spiritually tired and lack vibrant joy. No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot live a victorious Christian life on flesh power! (Romans 7.18)
If you’re in need of a personal spiritual inventory, I’d encourage you to pick up this book or one like Donald Whitney’s Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.
And if you find yourself “spiritually tired and lack vibrant joy,” perhaps you should look deeper to see if you are rationalizing behaviors, thoughts or activities that violate your Christian conscience and hinder your love relationship with God.