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Jun 07, 2020

Conscientious Community

Passage: 1 Corinthians 8:4-13

Preacher: Andrew Repsold

Series: Covid-19 Challenges

Keywords: church, conscience, morality, covid-19, educated conscience, weaker conscience

Detail:

1 Corinthians 8: Conscientious Community

June 7, 2020

Topical Sermon on Conscience.

Conscience defined: your sense of right and wrong. Ex. when you steal something or cheat and feel guilty.

I have heard conscience mentioned a lot in the past couple months and so I wanted to look into it and hopefully find some truths about conscience that will help guide us all as we make decisions during these difficult times, specifically regarding assembling together to experience church.

Things like:  

  1. I cannot in good conscience assemble with other believers right now due to the health risk of Covid-19. I don’t want in anyway to contribute to the potential death of others by transmitting this virus. How is that loving?
  2. Doesn’t Paul say (in the passage we are looking at today) that we should not exercise our freedoms if it causes another brother to stumble? In the same way, we should not gather together if it causes brothers and sisters in Christ anguish as we engage in something which convicts their conscience.
  3. How is your conscience not experiencing the same conviction and guilt that I feel over disobeying God’s commands to submit to government?

When should a course of action be determined by individual conscience?

These kinds of questions have caused me to want to better understand what role conscience plays in our individual lives and in our community. (Should we always obey it? Can it ever change? If it can change, is there anything I should be doing to influence my conscience or is it just present and I have no control over it? And finally, how should all of our varying consciences be accounted for as we, your spiritual shepherds, make decisions about whether to gather and how to gather?)

  • 4 principles/truths from 1 Corinthians 8 (turn there in your Bibles), application, how it might relate to the issue of assembling together during this time.

READ: 1 Corinthians 8:4-13    

1 Corinthians 8:7 and 10

Truth #1: Believers have varying strengths of conscience. We will have different moral convictions on certain issue.

This is not a slam on Objective morality (moral absolutes). Those certainly exist. But what we see in this passage and others like it (Romans 14) is that the way we have been created causes certain moral truths to be determined by individual conscience.

This means that certain moral tensions among brothers and sisters in Christ are not necessarily evidence of sin in either person. It may be the result of varying consciences

Application: Aware of this truth, we should be cautious of accusing fellow believers of living in sin because they have different moral convictions than ourselves on certain topics.

Example:  Drinking alcohol. Realm of conscience: whether or not you drink anything alcoholic. Absolute Moral Truth: being drunk (losing control of yourself to the intoxication of alcohol is always wrong…it is a sin.)

Evidence of the consumption of alcohol being approved: when Jesus miraculously turns 120 gallons of water into wine, we think he intends it to be drunk.

Proverbs 31:6--Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Ephesians 5:18- Do not be drunk on wine… (Don’t be controlled by alcohol, be controlled by the Holy Spirit).

APP:  Pertaining to the topic of gathering together right now for church…

I don’t want to eagerly jump to the conclusion that someone must be living in sin if they have a different view than me.

1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Truth #2: In areas of conscience, we sin if we don’t obey our conscience AND we sin if we encourage others to violate their conscience.

Alcohol example: Me going into a bar or drinking a beer versus someone who is fighting against alcoholism. It’s possible for me to drink something alcoholic and not be sinning while for others it is a sin to drink something alcoholic.

Application: In areas of conscience, we must obey our conscience. Those with stronger consciences should not express their freedoms of conscience at the expense of those with weaker consciences.

explain with the alcohol example.

APP:  Pertaining to the topic of gathering together right now for church…

If gathering in person with believers outside of your household is in the realm of conscience than it is wrong to assemble until everyone in the congregation feels morally right about doing so.

1 Corinthians 8:8

Truth #3: A moral behavior is in the realm of conscience if the act “does not commend us to God; we are no worse off if we do not eat it, and no better off if we do.”

Application: We must seek to better know God’s design and laws as revealed in the Bible so we can discern which moral decisions are in the ‘realm of conscience.’

APP:  Pertaining to the topic of gathering together right now for church…

We (the Mosaic leadership) do not think that assembling together to encourage one another in the faith and to worship God is in the realm of conscience because we do not think we can say of it “we are no better off spiritually if we don’t gather, and no better off if we do.”

The WAY we have tried to do so may be in the realm of conscience but whether or not you do is not.

So what should we do if we feel it is true that we should gather with other believers but also feel guilt over doing so?    ….

1 Corinthians 8:4-7 and Romans 1-3 (Romans 2:15)

Truth #4: Our conscience is to be subordinated to, and informed by, God’s word/law.

(Romans: where knowledge of God’s law (scriptural truth) is absent, your conscience is the moral standard you must follow and will possibly be judged by.  (sort of like a second level of law) ‘the law written upon their hearts’. )

1 Corinthians 8:4-7:  a conscience is “weaker”…when it doesn’t understand or cannot live into the truth of God’s laws.

example: polygamy  (feeling no conviction in sin)

example: physical union, sex, in marriage (feeling wrongful conviction).

Recognize that our consciences are not perfect…that God’s law IS perfect and so…

Application: If our conscience ever contradicts the revealed word of God, we should seek to strengthen our conscience by immersing ourselves in the truth and seeking soul transformation from God.

APP: Pertaining to the topic of gathering together right now for church…

If you feel guilt and that it is morally wrong to assemble with other Christians right now, you need to strengthen your conscience and discern how you could experience the fellowship we are designed and commanded to experience without violating areas of conscience.

Here is how we want to help with this:

FELLOWSHIP GROUPS.

We have tried to facilitate fellowship here at Mosaic while allowing people to honor areas of conscience. Many of you have mentioned wanting to fellowship but being unable to for health or occupational reasons and have presented the idea of fellowship groups.

Interested: email us at or contact any of the pastoral staff by phone or email this next week (that information is online).

-Name, number of participants and anything you think would be limiting to other’s conscience. (example:

  • I work in a hospital and am more likely to expose myself to COVID so I don’t think I should gather with those who are ‘at risk’.
  • I am at risk and want to gather with others who are at risk who I know have quarantined better.
  • I want to be able to gather and hug and have no social distancing
  • I want to gather outside.

Next week(s), and directly pertaining to these Fellowship Groups we will be looking into what elements should be a part of a house church (ie. what things are not in the realm of conscience)

…not just a Bible study.

Examples:

-involve singing psalms hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19) ….but not necessarily instruments.

-have leadership/eldership.

-involve gathering tithes and offerings and distributing to those in-need and to those laboring for your spiritual growth.

Communion

-Prayer and Bible teaching (Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.)

-It should be connected somehow to other churches (home or larger)