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1 Peter 3:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

What does s sailor or navigator of vessels at sea, a hiker trekking through the mountains, the pilot of an aircraft flies his plane above the clouds unable to see the earth, have in common? Each of these persons has a device for finding directions available to them, in many cases a simple compass, or technical air navigation system. A compass is the simplest of tools, usually with a magnetized needle that automatically swings to magnetic north, but has the capacity to save lives if one is lost. In many ways, we could compare it to the gift that humans received from their Creator, namely, a conscience. (Jam. 1:17) If it were not for the human conscience, we humans, would have absolutely no control over ourselves. In this chapter we will discuss what the conscience is, how it works, how it can be trained, why we need to understand the conscience of others, and how having a good conscience can be a matter of life or death.

The Conscience and How It Works

The Greek word in the Bible suneidesis (συνείδησις) literally means “‘a knowing with’ (sun, “with,” oida, “to know”), i.e., “a co-knowledge (with oneself), the witness borne to one’s conduct by conscience, that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God, as that which is designed to govern our lives;” hence (a) the sense of guiltiness before God; Heb. 10:2; (b) that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting to do the former, and avoid the latter; Rom. 2:15 (bearing witness with God’s law); 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12; acting in a certain way because “conscience” requires it, Rom. 13:5; so as not to cause scruples of “conscience” in another, 1 Cor. 10:28-29; not calling a thing in question unnecessarily, as if conscience demanded it, 1 Cor. 10:25, 27; “commending oneself to every man’s conscience,” 2 Cor. 4:2; cf. 5:11. There may be a “conscience” not strong enough to distinguish clearly between the lawful and the unlawful, 1 Cor. 8:7, 10, 12 (some regard consciousness as the meaning here). The phrase “conscience toward God,” in 1 Pet. 2:19, signifies a “conscience” (or perhaps here, a consciousness) so controlled by the apprehension of God’s presence, that the person realizes that griefs are to be borne in accordance with His will. Heb. 9:9 teaches that sacrifices under the Law could not so perfect a person that he could regard himself as free from guilt.[1]

The conscience is the moral code that God gave Adam and Eve, our mental power or ability that enables us to reason between what is good and what is bad. (Rom. 9:1) Then, the inner voice within us is not entirely ours, but is also God’s compass, empowering humans to avoid choosing the wrong path.

Human Rebellion

It was God’s intention that his first couple, Adam, and Eve, were to procreate and cultivate the Garden of Eden until it covered the entire earth, filled with perfect humans worshipping him. – Genesis 1:28

If the first couple had not rebelled, they and their offspring could have lived forever. – Genesis 2:15-17

One of the angels in heaven (who became Satan), abused his free will (James 1:14-15), chose to rebel against God, and he used a lowly serpent to contribute to Adam and Eve abusing their free will, and disobeying God, believing they did not need him, and could walk on their own.―Genesis 3:1-6; Job 1-2.

God removed the rebellious Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:23-24) The first human couple had children, but they all grew old and eventually died (Gen. 3:19; Rom 5:12), just as the animals died.―Ecclesiastes 3:18-20

Genesis 6:5 (AT) tells us just before the flood of Noah, that “the wickedness of man on earth was great, and the whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil.” After the flood, God said of man, “the bent of man’s mind may be evil from his very youth.” (Gen 8:21, AT) Jeremiah 10:23 tells us “that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 17:9 says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Yes, man was not designed to walk on his own. However, man was also not designed with absolute free will, but free will under the sovereignty of his Creator. Imperfect man is mentally bent toward wickedness, fleshly desires, to which Satan has set up this world, so it caters to the fallen flesh. “For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world.”―1 John 2:16.

Getting back to Genesis 1:27 that says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” meaning that man is born with a moral nature, which creates within him a conscience that reflects God’s moral values. (Rom. 2:14-15) It acts as a moral law within us. However, it has an opponent as fallen man also possesses the “law of sin,” ‘missing the mark of perfection,’ the natural desire toward wickedness. Listen to the internal battle of the apostle Paul.―Romans 6:12; 7:22-23.

Romans 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 I find then the law in me that when I want to do right, that evil is present in me. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind [Paul’s desire to obey God’s law] and taking me captive in the law of sin [what wars against the law of his mind] which is in my members.

Here Paul uses the law motif to illustrate from another angle the conflict he experiences. Two laws are mentioned: the law of my mind (his desire to obey God’s law), and the law of sin (that which wars against the law of his mind). He states a principle by which these two laws conflict with one another: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. All of us can identify with the apostle’s succinct summary of the spiritual experience.

Not only Paul, but also all believers, has “left undone those things which we ought to have done.” And as the Anglican confession rightly concludes (“there is no health in us”), Paul is about to explode with his own spiritual diagnosis.[2]

However, there is hope,

Romans 7:24-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.

One of the results of the gospel is that it delivers us from the condemnation of the law. “Of what use then is the Law? To lead us to Christ, the Truth—to waken in our minds a sense of what our deepest nature, the presence, namely, of God in us, requires of us—to let us know, in part by failure, that the purest efforts of will of which we are capable cannot lift us up even to the abstaining from wrong to our neighbor” (George MacDonald, in Lewis, p. 20).

The law did its perfect work in the apostle Paul, reviving his soul (Ps. 19:7a). It convicted him of his sin and showed him that the only deliverance for him was Jesus Christ. No wonder Paul could call the law a “tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24, NASB). That is exactly what the law did for him. Once delivered from the law, Paul was able to serve the ends of the law—righteousness—in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7:6).

Paul summarizes the entire chapter—the conflict of the believer that causes him or her to remain dependent upon the Spirit—in the final verse. When it is Paul the believer talking, he makes himself a slave to God’s law. But when his sinful capacity speaks out, he is a slave to the law of sin. As mentioned in this chapter earlier, it is a shame that chapter divisions in our Bibles cause us to “stop” at certain points in the consideration of the text. While this is a logical point in the flow of Paul’s thought for a pause, Romans 7 and 8 should be read together. Immediately, Paul moves from wretchedness to victory in declaring that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set him “free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). The gospel is indeed good news, delivering the believer from death by law to life by grace through the Spirit.[3]

Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and were a reflection of his qualities and attributes. Even after the fall, in our state of imperfection, all humans still maintain a good measure of that image. We all have a moral nature, which produces the faculty of conscience. This moral nature and associated conscience are seen in that most countries have laws that are based on the Bible’s moral values, do not kill, do not steal, and do not commit adultery, and so on. Why is it that most people feel guilty, ashamed, dirty, embarrassed, or abnormal when discussing masturbation? It is because of the conscience that God gave us. While the opinion of most physicians is that masturbation is harmless physically, it seems that the human conscience rejects it, as most are not as comfortable talking about masturbation as they are about another bodily function, like washing your hands.

God had given Adam and Eve a conscience, an internal mechanism, to evidence the difference between right and wrong. In their perfection, they were able to sin still because even if a perfect person entertains bad thoughts, it will lead to sin and death. (Jam 1:14-15) Nevertheless, humankind in imperfection has a measure of that conscience that was given to Adam and Eve, meaning they have always had a sense of good and bad. However, the Mosaic Law laid our more explicitly what sin was and the different aspects of it. Therefore, the Mosaic Law caused sin to increase. On this Paul wrote,

Romans 7:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

Like the apostle Paul, neither Jewish persons nor we today would know the full range of sin without the Mosaic Law. Paul gave us the example of coveting. The law exposed the coveting spirit that Paul would never have truly recognized in its fullest sense. This is how Paul could say, “apart from the Law sin is dead,” specifically, it would not be as recognizable, as exposed, as highlighted. The Law made people more aware of the extent of their sinful nature. We should offer a word of caution, though, the Mosaic Law did not move them toward sin or make sin more appealing, but rather it exposed sin for what it was. Sin is missing the mark of perfection. Sin is being out of harmony with the Creator, his personality, standards, and ways, which he inculcated in his creation. The Law made it possible to convict more people concerning sin. Now, the apostles, baptized in Holy Spirit were going to take this a step further with the law of Christ. Again, Jesus said to his apostles, “And when that one arrives [the Holy Spirit], he will convict the world [by way of the apostle workers] concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”― John 16:8.

What do we mean by ‘convicting the world concerning sin’? This is not a reference to sin in general, as though, the Holy Spirit would personally come upon a person who just watched a movie they should not have, or they just told a lie, or they committed any sin. When we feel this inner guilt, a groaning of our inner person, because we know we have just done wrong, this is not the Holy Spirit convicting us of that sin. It is the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God, which convicts us of sin. Sin will cause us to feel guilt, anxiety, insecurity, shame. We get a clearer understanding of this when we consider Paul’s words that “they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and between their own thoughts they are being accused or even excused.” (Rom 2:15) In other words, when we fall short of God’s standards as they are laid out in Scripture or our God given conscience, we will feel an internal groaning within us, which is our conscience convicting us of wrongdoing.

We are born with the weaker version of the conscience that God had given Adam and Eve. It will prevent most humans from committing the obvious right and wrongs, even if they never read the Word of God their entire life. However, considering that almost all of the teachers and professors in the United States and Especially Europe and Canada are of a liberal progressive mindset, which is contrary to God’s standards, the conscience is greatly weakened by Satan’s world. If our conscience is ignored, it will become calloused and unfeeling, no longer warning us of our wrongdoing, because it no longer rings a wrongdoing warning in our heart and mind. On the other hand, if Scripture trains our conscience, it will not allow us to commit the wrongdoing in the first place. Returning to the being made bold by the Holy Spirit, we too can receive the Spirit in our evangelism work, but not in the same way and the same sense as the apostles and their fellow workers.

Is it only God’s people, who have the gift of a conscience? Let us look again at the words of the apostle Paul. For when Gentiles who do not have the law by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and between their own thoughts they are being accused or even excused. (Rom. 2:14-15) Even those completely unaware of Scripture, have this internal moral code or moral nature, actually acting in harmony with the qualities and characteristics of the Creator, namely, the heavenly Father.

Nevertheless, the conscience can be wrong. One may ask, how can something that God created be wrong? It is the same as the compass, which we spoke of earlier. If it is placed near some metal object, it could point in the wrong direction. Moreover, if we do not have an accurate map; then, the compass becomes worthless even if it is working properly. In a similar way, if it is ignored, or not cultivated properly, it can become callused, unfeeling, meaning it will not lean toward good, or warn us when we are heading into wrongdoing.

The mind is the center of consciousness that generates thoughts, feelings, ideas, and perceptions, and stores knowledge and memories. It also has the capacity to think, understand, and reason. If our conscience grows calloused through repeated violations, the mind is free to lean toward the fleshly side of things, all the badness that Satan’s world offers. The mind will wade into this wicked old world, and nothing will seem as though it is wrong. On the other hand, if Scripture trains our conscience, it will not allow us to commit the wrongdoing in the first place. Paul wrote, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bears witness to me in the Holy Spirit.”― Romans 9:1.

Training the Conscience

The Apostle Paul’s words, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable[4] and perfect.” How can we renew our mind? We have already said that the mind is the center of consciousness, which stores knowledge and can think, understand, and reason. Well, if it is the mindset of the world, which can get us askew, we must take in knowledge from another source, creating a different mindset. Paul made this very clear to the Ephesians, when he gave them instructions for Christian living, how to create a new life. Paul said, “This, therefore, I say and bear witness to in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; who being past feeling gave themselves up to shameless conduct,[5] for the practice of every uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph. 4:17-19) Because of their callused hearts, the god of this world blinds these, so that the truth cannot get through.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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.

John MacArthur writes, “the god of this age. Satan (cf. Matt. 4:8; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:26; 1 John 5:19). this age. The current world mindset expressed by the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people. It encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce … has blinded. Satan blinds people to God’s truth through the world system he has created. Without a godly influence, man left to himself will follow that system, which panders to the depravity of unbelievers and deepens their moral darkness (cf. Matt. 13:19). Ultimately, it is God who allows such blindness (John 12:40). image of God. Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God Himself (see notes on Col. 1:15; 2:9; Heb. 1:3).”[6]

Clearly, we need to seek out a better source of knowledge. Jesus said, ‘this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the One You have sent, Jesus Christ.’ (John 17:3, HCSB) We need to take in knowledge, develop a relationship with the Father and the Son, to replace the mindset of the world that surrounds us. Jesus further stated in this same chapter of John, in prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17, ESV) The Bible will educate us in the way in which we should walk, setting us apart from the world of humankind that is alienated from God. How do we help others or ourselves maybe to tear away the veil of Satan?

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 but whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.[7]

When we turn with a receptive heart the Word of God, our eyes will be opened to the truth. We need to come to an accurate understanding of the Bible, seeing it as the most significant influence on our lives, so that we will apply what we learn without hesitation. This is the only source of information that will be able to transform us from a fleshly person into a spiritual person, renewing our minds. The power of Holy Spirit is to be found in the written Word of God. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”―Hebrews 4:12.

Titus 3:3-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For we also once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Be Prepared for Good Works

But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us, not by deeds of righteousness that we have done, but because of his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

1 Corinthians 2:10-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Where many Christians get off course is by two long-held myths, (1) the Spirit is going to renew your mind miraculously, and (2) help us to understand the Word of God. It took us many years to become who we are, and it will take much study and biblical application to overcome that old personality. It may take months as a new Christian, to start to see this transformation. If you put fifty percent of yourself into it, you will get fifty percent back. Are we able to miraculously understanding God’s Word, because of the Holy Spirit? We need to have the tools of interpretation, to be able to have the correct mental grasp of God’s Word. We need to understand the rules and principles of biblical interpretation, as well as how we are to apply those in a balanced way.[8]

God’s Word is Alive

As we grow in Bible knowledge, we will apply it more and more fully as we go, causing us to have faith in what it say, motivating us to an even deeper study, producing a new way of thinking and a new way of life. We will have God’s Word deeply ingrained in our head and heart, creating this powerful influence that will tell us which way we should go. ‘Thus says Jehovah, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am Jehovah thy God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go.’―Isaiah 48:17

Colossians 3:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man[9] with its practices 10 and have put on the new man[10] who is being renewed through accurate knowledge[11] according to the image of the one who created him, 11 where there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Perverted passions, hot tempers, and sharp tongues are to be removed as part of the life-transformation process. These things, along with [lying] to each other, are not appropriate behavior for our new life in Christ. The remnants of the former lifestyle are to be discarded since [we] have taken off [our] old self with its practices. What is the old self (literally “old man”) and the new self (literally “the new”)? The “old man” refers to more than an individual condition (“sinful nature”) and also has a corporate aspect. The corporate aspect of “the new” (man) is unmistakably seen in verse 11. What has been put off and what has been put on? Our former associations, the old humanity has been put off, and we now have a new association, the new community. As members of the new community, we are to conduct ourselves in ways which will enhance harmony in the community. Notice how the sins mentioned in the previous verses disrupt community and damage human relationships.

As individuals, and as believing communities, our objective is to be a part of the transformation process of being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Christ). Within the new community all barriers are abolished. Distinctions which normally divide people, racial (Greek or Jew); religious (circumcised or uncircumcised); cultural (barbarian or Scythian); social (slave or free), no longer have significance. The reason human categories no longer matter is that Christ is all, which means Christ is central and supreme. Our relationship with him is really all that matters. Unity within the community is based on the fact that Christ is in all. He indwells all believers and permeates all our relationships. This does not mean that people cease to be Jew or Greek, slave or free, etc. It does mean that within the new community those distinctions don’t matter. The false teachers at Colosse were fond of dividing people into categories, elite versus ordinary, spiritual versus not so spiritual. The truth is, all believers are equal; all believers are to discard any and all behaviors and attitudes which are inappropriate for our new life. (Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary: vol. 8, Galatians-Colossians 1999, 331)

Science has indeed taken us a long way in our understanding of how the mind works, but it is only a grain of sand on the beach of sand in comparison to what we do not know. We have enough in these basics to understand some fundamental processes. When we open our eyes to the light of a new morning, it is altered into and electrical charge by the time it arrives at the gray matter of our brain’s cerebral cortex. As the sound of the morning birds reaches our gray matter, it comes as electrical impulses. The rest of our senses (smell, taste, and touch) arrive as electrical currents in the brain’s cortex as well. The white matter of our brain lies within the cortex of gray matter, used as a tool to send electrical messages to other cells in other parts of the gray matter. Thus, when anyone of our five senses detects danger, at the speed of light, a message is sent to the motor section, to prepare us for the needed action of either fight or flight.

Here lies the key to altering our way of thinking. Every single thought, whether it is conscious or subconscious makes an electrical path through the white matter of our brain, with a record of the thought and event. This holds true with our actions as well. If it is a repeated way of thinking or acting, it has no need to form a new path; it only digs a deeper, ingrained, established path.

This would explain how a factory worker who has been on the job for some time, gives little thought as he performs his repetitive functions each day; it becomes unthinking, automatic, mechanical. These repeated actions become habitual. There is yet another facet to be considered; the habits, repeated thoughts, and actions become simple and effortless to repeat. Any new thoughts and actions are harder to perform, as there need to be new pathways opened up.

The human baby starts with a blank slate, with a minimal amount of stable paths built in to survive those first few crucial years. As the boy grows into childhood, there is a flood of pathways established, more than all of the internet connections worldwide.

Our five senses are continuously adding to the maze. Ps. 139:14: “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . .” (NASB) So, it could never be overstated as to the importance of the foundational thinking and behavior that should be established in our children from infancy forward.

Once we are transformed by the renewal of our mind, how do we keep it that way? Again, the Apostle Paul wrote,

Romans 7:19-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if what I do not want to do, this I am doing, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21 I find then the law in me that when I want to do right, that evil is present in me. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and taking me captive in the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.

We have two laws mentioned here in verse 23, (1) the law of the mind (desire to obey God’s law) and (2) the law of sin that dwells in my members (the inner desire that wars against the law of the mind). A law is a rule of conduct that controls a person. The law of the mind is what we had left from our perfect parents Adam before they decided to rebel. The law of sin is from the same parents, but after they rebelled. It is like inheriting one good trait and one bad trait. Whichever one is cultivated this one will control us. Therefore, we need to cultivate the law of the mind. This is not the old mind, but rather the renewed mind. In other words, we have come out of the world of humankind that is dominated by the mindset of Satan, into having the mind of Christ by way of knowledge. We have a new way of thinking, which controls the way we feel and believe, resulting in new behaviors. Our new mind is now what should control our new self. However, the conflict comes in because we now have a new mind in an old body and brain. We are in an imperfect state, and the law of sin is seeking to control our behavior, just as the law of the mind is doing the same. That is why there are times, when we fall victim to the law of sin, even though the law of the mind wanted no such thing.

Because we are ‘mentally bent’ toward the wickedness that dwells within us (Gen. 6:5; 8:21), there is an ongoing battle once we have renewed our mind. If we are to beat down these desires to the point of real self-control, we must feed our renewed mind continually with accurate knowledge from Scripture. (Col. 3:9-10) Head knowledge alone is not enough, we have to channel that head knowledge down into our figurative heart, the seat of motivation. In other words, we need to cultivate good mental habits, like telling the truth, as opposed to the bad habit of telling a lie. The habit of being honest instead of being dishonest is cultivated by repetition. This is the way we truly develop a law of the mind. We get to the point that as we contemplate a dishonest choice, a screaming internal alarm will go off, the conscience, telling us to abort.

1 Timothy 6:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who consider godliness to be a means of gain.

2 Timothy 3:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disapproved in regard to the faith.

As we can see from the Apostle Paul, it is the truth of God’s Word that renews the mind, as well as keeping the mind renewed. However, if we start to doubt that truth because we deprive ourselves of constant replenishments, we can end up opposing the truth. This results in our being depraved and corrupted in mind, like a computer that is infected with a virus. Thus, our spiritual wellbeing, as well as our eternal life is wholly dependent on what we feed our mind on.

Romans 8:5-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on[12] the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For setting the mind on the flesh is death, but setting the mind on the spirit is life and peace because setting the mind on the flesh means enmity toward God, for it is not subjected to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

While it is perfectly fine to study what Bible critics have to say, or arguments that the atheist and agnostic might raise; it is not fine to do it without first preparing the mind to do battle. If we feed our minds with corruptive thinking, without having the ability to defend against it, we will end up with a depraved and corrupted mind.

Philippians 3:18-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, and they have their minds on earthly things.

Satan uses many tools against the new Christian or the Christian that is weak, or not prepared. One of these is the distortion of the truth. These can come from false Christianity, other religions, atheists, agnostics, and the like. Most of this distortion is designed to get you to call into question the heavenly truth that you learned, by getting your mind focused on earthly things. They replace the sovereignty of God, with the sovereignty of self.

Colossians 1:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your minds, doing evil works,

At one time, we were enemies of God, by way of our mind. At that time, our mindset, out attitude, our thinking was contrary to God. If we stumble by taking in distortions that we have not prepared ourselves to cope with, we can become hostile in mind once more, even to the point of being beyond repentance that is the desire to repent.

Ephesians 2:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. Among whom also we all formerly lived in the desires of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Before finding Christ, our minds were filled with ignorance. We had established certain things that we habitually fed our minds on, causing us to walk in the way of the world. After we renewed our mind, there lies the risk of becoming double-minded. Young prince Hezekiah wrote, “I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.” (Psa. 119:113, ESV) What does it mean to be double minded? This is one that tries to live a double life, one foot in the world and one foot in the faith. This will eventually lead to choosing the world over choosing the Word. You will undoubtedly become depraved and corrupted in mind. We owe God our whole heart, soul, and mind.

How Can You Protect Your Renewed Mind?

Certainly, we want to keep our mind renewed once we have gotten it there. We do this by maintaining a strong Christian conscience. The Apostle Paul spoke of those ‘who have branded their own conscience with a hot iron,’ (1 Timothy 4:2, ASV) When we think of a branding iron, usually it is the branding of cattle that come to mind, but it was used to mark slaves at one time. The iron is heated until the metal is fiery red; then, the brand is pressed against the flesh, searing the image of the iron into the flesh. Burned flesh is scarred flesh that becomes unfeeling. Can you imagine, there are people that have no feeling in their skin? If they picked up a red-hot coal out of a fire, they would not feel it burning them. These have no warning that something is too hot or too cold. This can happen figuratively to a Christian conscience; it can be seared to the point of becoming unfeeling, or dead. The conscience is designed to send out warnings, helping us to avoid moral dangers or spiritual dangers. If the conscience gets seared, it will not warn us, or protect certain things we take into our mind or give us pangs of shame or guilt when we are heading toward wrong acts.

We need a clean, healthy conscience to warn us of spiritual or moral dangers. If we are contemplating a movie, or a song, or a friendship that is wrong for us, it will scream out to us. If we listen to it, it will remain healthy. However, if we repeatedly ignore it, the warning it provides will grow dimmer and dimmer, until we can no longer see the dangers ahead. In the Beginning, we grow our conscience by way of our Bible studies. We are able to reason out principles from Scripture that help us understand the dangers of the gray areas of life. We need to stay strong in our studies, our meeting, and our ministry. If we are, absent from these constant reminders for an extended period, the influences of Satan’s world will begin to sear our conscience, meaning we will start to lose sensitivity, and the slippery slope of wrongdoing will grow stronger and stronger. Keep in mind that this is like heating water up to a boiling point so slowly that a live animal would not even know they are being cooked to death.

How We Should be Mentally Engaged

We do not want to have a mental relapse back into a worldly way of thinking, depraved and corrupted. We know now that we are naturally mentally bent toward wrongdoing and that through a course of biblical study, meeting attendance, helping others in our evangelizing, we have bent ourselves in another direction, toward what is pleasing in the eyes of God. We do not want anything or anyone to get us to move to the left or right of our true course. We must continually strengthen the law of the mind by digging into God’s Word and sharing it with others.

In order to be successful in this endeavor, we must make efforts mentally, always being aware of our thinking, to see if it has gotten off course. We need constant refreshing, which we get at congregation meeting and personal Bible study. This means that we must buy out time from Satan’s world, and give it to this renewing practice. As Paul said, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the custom of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”―Hebrews 10:24-25.

To appreciate the fact that we can never, in a lifetime, come to understand every single nuance entirely within the Bible, let us consider an analogy. It is like a 50 million piece jigsaw puzzle. You can get sections together, but you will never, in 150 years, working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, complete the whole puzzle. There are exegetical commentaries that run 1,800 pages on just one Bible book, and that is just a scratching of the surface. This is not mean to discourage, but to encourage. You see, we need to feed our minds continually on Biblical truths, in order to stay spiritually functional. If we could completely understand the whole of Scripture after ten years of intensive study, what would we do then? Then, there is this, we are always growing in our understanding of God’s Word, and growth leads to occasional readjustments in our thinking. At times, we may have to rethink our position on things, which calls for humility.

While we cannot fully know the mind of God, we can enjoy the privilege of continually discovering information, secrets, and revelations, from his Word. As we grow in an understanding of the deeper things of God, we mature in the way we walk with God. This means that we will spiritually stumble less and less as we grow more and more. Of course, there will not come a day in this present age, where we will not stumble in word or deed. Our loving heavenly father asks us, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” (Prov. 23:26) This means that we must give our undivided attention to God’s Word, and he will disclose his ways to us. This is done by having a daily personal study, keeping his Word close to our heart, forming a longing for it.

Why Should Christians Consider the Conscience of Others

Any who have ever entered a variety of churches big and small can tell that Christian consciences differ greatly just by the way Christians dress. One man will feel fine wearing a T-shirt and a pair of Jesus, while another will wear a suit and tie. One female will feel fine wearing a spaghetti-strap dress, while another wears a modest dress. One set of parents let their child wear a heavy metal T-shirt, jean shorts, and flip-flops, while another father and mother have their son in a nice suit with a tie. It has nothing to do with these finances, so that is not an excuse. It is a matter of a Christian conscience. One feels like they are in the house of God and clearly the other does not.

In other situations, Christians will find some things objectionable; others enjoy it and see no basis for condemning it. For Jim skydiving is a form of recreation that gives him excitement. John, o the other hand sees it as risking the very life that the Creator gave us, and sees it as unbiblical. In the matter of social drinking, Fred finds delight in taking a drink with a few friends as they relax together for an evening, while Lawrence is troubled by the practice. Why do we find such differences in a Christian congregation that is supposed to be one? How should this affect us?

There are many reasons for these differences. It has much to do with the social environment in which they grew up. One may have grown up in a community that is more liberal-progressive, while another may have grown up in a more conservative community. Then, there are those, who may have struggled with drinking alcohol in their lives, or their parents may have, so they view it differently than the other that has no problem in that area. What happens though if Fred invites Lawrence to a Christian get together at his house? Should he still have alcoholic beverages available? If he chooses to do so, should Lawrence be offended? What if Freed offers Lawrence a drink, and Lawrence says no, should Fred be offended?

Then, there is biblical understanding. Many people within the Christian community vary in the level of Bible knowledge and understanding, so, of course, they differ in what they see as fine conduct and what they see as sinful behavior. Some things are biblically wrong. However, some things are a matter of a Christian conscience and not biblically wrong. It is biblically wrong to risk one’s life for the mere thrill of it. It is wrong to abuse alcohol but it is not wrong to drink socially if you have control over yourself. It is biblically wrong to dress immodestly. In addition, at one point has one crossed the line over into immodest dress? In some cases, the Christian is sinning and we should carefully choose how we interact with them. In other cases, it is only a conscience decision and brotherly love will move us to be considerate.

Food Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it.

In the Greek culture of first-century C.E., there were families that made sacrificial offerings of meat to idols in the temples. Only certain portions of the meat were used, with the rest being taken home by the family, or sold to the meat market. The question that lies before the Christian: ‘is it then permissible to eat the meat at the market.’ It is true that “all of us possess knowledge.” However, is it accurate knowledge, and do we possess wisdom, the ability to apply the knowledge correctly? Thus, the actual danger for the Corinthian Christians is their belief that they have the accurate knowledge, which has him puffed up when in truth, it is not accurate at all.

1 Corinthians 8:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But if anyone loves God, he is known by him.

The obvious mark that a Christian has love for God will be evidenced in his or her attitude and actions toward fellow Christians, as “love builds up.”

1 Corinthians 8:4-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Therefore, concerning the eating of food sacrificed to idols, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world” and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Paul is making the point that even though there are so-called gods, their claim is false. The gods “in heaven” would include deities such as Jupiter, the chief of the pagan gods, and Aphrodite, the patron deity of the colony. The gods “on earth” may be an allusion to the way the Roman imperial family was worshiped and considered divine. At Corinth, there was a temple of Octavia, dedicated to the sister of the emperor Augustus. The focus for a provincial imperial cult, based at Corinth, was established about a.d. 54. There was a regular festival celebrating the imperial family; thus a Christian attending a banquet in honor of the deified emperor might be compromised.[13]

The Corinthians Christians knew “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (8:6) Living in the pagan city, they were well aware that there were many false, nonexistent gods and lords, which were worshiped by the citizens of Corinth. They knew that these idols were simply pieces wood, stone or metal, and were powerless. Based on this knowledge, the Corinthian Christians should have known that meat in the market that had been part of what was offered to idols, had no power over them, being no different from any of the other meat at the market.

However, is this basic knowledge, able to guide them in the wisdom of whether they should eat it or not? While some were spiritually mature enough, to realize that eating such meat meant nothing. However, there were others in the Corinthian congregation, new ones, and older ones, who were spiritually weak, unable to make the connection. Paul goes on,

1 Corinthians 8:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

These Christians being referred to in verse 7[14] were former idolaters, who had been very much involved in the practices of the false gods, and were unable to make the connection. If they ate such meat, even being told this was permissible, they would not be able to set aside the worshipful spirit that they had previously experienced. Therefore, they could not accept that it would be permissible to eat such meet. In addition, in their case, because they still possessed a worshipful spirit, it would have been wrong. Paul touched on this with the Romans, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)

1 Corinthians 8:8-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But food does not bring us close to God. Neither if we do not eat do we lack, nor if we do eat do we have more.”[15] But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone should see you who has knowledge reclining for a meal in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

In keeping with the rest of the New Testament, Paul often used the word translated “we are worse” (hystereo) to mean “to be lacking” or “to be in need” (cf. 2 Cor. 11:9; Phil. 4:12). The word translated “we are better” (perisseuo) appears to carry the meaning “abound, overflow” in every other Pauline usage. In 8:8 these words most probably refer not to moral or spiritual benefit or damage, but to material prosperity. This corresponds well with the idea in the ancient world that sacrifices procured material blessings from the gods. This seems an even more likely reading in light of the famines in Greece at the time of this letter.[16]

This is where insight must come in for the spiritually mature Christian, as he would be sinning if he ate meat in front of such spiritually weak ones, as he may stumble such ones. The spiritually weak one may draw the conclusion that the mature ones in the Corinthian congregation were partaking in false worship to pagan idols. On the other hand, they may think that it is fine to eat the meat, still possessing their worshipful spirit, which remains from former days. Thus, the spiritually mature one would have caused his brother to sin.

1 Corinthians 8:12-13

12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

Therefore, it was not enough to be aware that they possessed the freedom to eat the meat because the meat was no different from any other, and had no power over them; they needed to have insight into how to apply that knowledge wisely. The alleged mature Christian, who failed to consider those who were spiritually weak, is ‘puffed up with knowledge,’ when he should be ‘building up with love’ of his fellow brothers. This one sees the weak as being overly rigid and dogmatic, as opposed to struggling to get over a former way of life. Therefore, while he might possess the accurate knowledge, he fails to use it wisely, and is foolish, because, in the end, he has sinned against Christ. He did not allow love to be the guide of that knowledge.

Romans 15:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written: “The reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.”[17]

Paul reasoned that we were to put the needs of our brothers and sisters ahead of our own, as Christ put the needs of all humanity before his own. In the related discussion above in the book of Corinthians, Paul said, “if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” (1 Cor. 8:13) Paul also wrote a couple chapters later,

1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

23 All things are permissible, but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. 24 Let each one keep seeking, not his own good, but that of the other person.  31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the congregation[18] of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own advantage but that of many, that they may be saved.

Then, again, Christians who have a conscience that is more restrictive, they should not be more critical of those who are aware of their freedoms, believing that all conscience decisions should be as they see it. Paul wrote, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Rom. 14:10) The Christian conscience is used for a twofold purpose: (1) it is used to warn a Christian of anything that is sinful, i.e., not in harmony with God’s personality, standards, ways, and will. (2) However, it is also used to judge ourselves internally, not as a means to judge our brothers and sisters over things that are not sinful. Jesus said,

Matthew 7:1-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For with the judgment you are judging you will be judged, and by what measure you are measuring, it will be measured to you.. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

This is judging as to whether someone is worthy of everlasting life, this is not judging whether someone is a good associate or not. Jesus expects us to judge whether one is as good a person or a bad person by the fruits that they produce. Another point to be made by these verses is, even if we do see someone we know biblically speaking is heading down a path that could result in their not finding favor in God’s eyes, we need to make sure that we are not hypocritical and get anything sinful out of our lives first. This way, we can see more clearly how we can help our brother or sister get back on the path to life or remain more strong or firm in the faith, not judge them.

A Good Conscience Brings Blessings

The apostle Peter wrote, “Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pet. 3:16) A good and clean conscience in today’s world of slippery slope sin, gray area sin, will bring Christians two different types of blessings. First, having a good and clean standing before God and second the feeling of being clean and good, brings a stress-free life that those who do not really know God, cannot even imagine. (John 17:3) Again, as was mention back on page 72, Paul described those “whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron.” (1 Tim. 4:2) Knute Larson writes, “The conscience is the human capability to discern right and wrong, and it is connected to the will. A good conscience, one guided by faith, enables a person to navigate life’s moral issues. But a seared conscience is left scarred, unable to assess truth and error, incapable of producing godly behavior.”[19]

The natural inclination of Adam and Eve was toward doing good. However, after the fall, and the inheritance of sin, this all changed. The offspring of Adam has that natural inclination or leaning toward bad. Then, the prophet Jeremiah tells us that our heart, inner person, is treacherous, to the point that we cannot even truly know it. When you couple this with the fact that Satan, the god of this world at present, has set it up so that it caters to our fleshly instincts; we are weighed down even more with the internal battle of right and wrong. One might ask, ‘if all of this is against us, why is there an internal battle over good and bad, why do we not just do bad? This is because God placed a moral compass in us, a conscience that is designed to lean toward good, based on his value system. When imperfection hit us, it still worked to a degree to help humanity determine the difference between right and wrong. However, if it is ignored, or not cultivated properly, it can become callused, unfeeling, meaning it will not lean toward good, or warn us when we are heading into wrongdoing. Paul said, ‘As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things.’ (Eph. 4:17-19, CEV) Because of their callused hearts, the god of this world blinds these, so that the truth cannot get through. A branding iron will sear the flesh so that it becomes insensitive and incapable of feeling. If we ignore the conscience, over time, it will become dead, scarred to the point where we will no longer receive warnings. We will no longer feel guilt for whatever we immoral thought we might have had, or whatever sinful action we may have carried out, or whatever we should have done but failed to do.

The pangs of our conscience are what move us to see our wrongdoing and then to take steps not to repeat it again. We know in our heart that even the most serious sins can be forgiven. (Psa. 51:1-19; 86:5) In our imperfection, we can struggle to balance exactly how the conscience is supposed to work. It warns us of sin that lies ahead so we can ignore it. It also gives us pains of guilt if we have sinned, so that we are moved to repent, turn around and never do it again. However, in our imperfection, we might have a conscience that still gives us intense feelings of guilt and shame even after we have repented and changed our ways, even though we know that God has forgiven us. In this latter case, we have allowed our conscience to be overly sensitive, to the point that it is very punitive, beating us with sinful guilt long beyond its intended purpose. If this is ever the case, we need to rationalize with our self-condemning heart, letting it know that God is greater than our heart. The apostle John wrote,

1 John 3:19-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 By this we know that we are of the truth and will persuade[20] our heart before him, 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence[21] toward God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.

Alternatively, a clean conscience brings us inner peace, calmness, and a profound joy that is seldom found in this world under the imperfection of fallen flesh that is catered to by Satan, the god of the world. Many who were formerly living in sin and have now turned their life over to God, they now know this amazing relief and are able today to hold a good and clean conscience as they carry out the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23; 1 Cor. 6:11) This book, YOUR WORD IS TRUTH, has been written to help its readers to find that same joy, to have and maintain a good, clean conscience in their lives. Of course, it is incapable of covering every detail that one would need to consider and apply in their lives. In addition, do not expect every Bible rule and principle to be black and white. As we refine our Christian conscience, it will be able to handle those gray areas better as well. The purpose of this book and others by Edward D. Andrews is to help its readers grow in knowledge of God’s Word, so as to sensitize the conscience but not to over sensitize it, by studying how to apply it to our daily lives. Below are some other crucial books in this continued education,

INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Edward D. Andrews

EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE TRULY CHRISTIAN Keep Testing Yourselves to See If You Are In the Faith – Keep Examining Yourselves by Edward D. Andrews

CRISIS OF FAITH Saving Those Who Doubt by Edward D. Andrews

PUT OFF THE OLD PERSON WITH ITS PRACTICES And Put On the New Person, By Edward D. Andrews

APPLYING GOD’S WORD MORE FULLY: The Secret of a Successful Christian Life [Second Edition] by Edward D. Andrews

WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD: Putting God’s Purpose First in Your Life [Second Edition] by Edward D. Andrews

FOR AS I THINK IN MY HEART – SO I AM: Combining Biblical Counseling with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Edward D. Andrews

THE BATTLE FOR THE CHRISTIAN MIND: Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind by Edward D. Andrews

[1] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 122.

[2] (Boa and Kruidenier, Holman New Testament Commentary: Romans, Vol. 6 2000, 231)

[3] IBID., 232

[4] Or well-pleasing

[5] Or “loose conduct,” “sensuality,” “licentiousness” “promiscuity” Greek, aselgeia. This phrase refers to acts of conduct that are serious sins. It reveals a shameless condescending arrogance; i.e., disregard or even disdain for authority, laws, and standards.

[6] MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 54980-54985). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

[7] 3:16. By contrast, whenever anyone turns to the Lord in repentance and faith, his or her condition changes. Paul alluded to Exodus 34:34 which spoke of Moses removing his veil, but he shifted the language toward Christ. Those in Christ see the glory clearly because the veil that dulls their minds is taken away. Christians possess renewed hearts and minds, enabling them to see the revelation of God more fully than those under the old covenant had seen it. Many things still remain hidden (Rom. 11:33–34), but compared to its visibility under the old covenant, the glory of God is now highly visible in Christ.―Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 325.

[8] A BASIC GUIDE TO BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION Understanding the Correct Methods of Interpretation by Edward D. Andrews (Apr 22, 2014)

http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/4818742

[9] Or old person

[10] Or new person

[11] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[12] set their minds. This Greek verb refers to a basic orientation of the mind—a mind-set that includes one’s affections, mental processes, and will (cf. Phil. 2:2, 5; 3:15, 19; Col. 3:2). Paul’s point is that unbelievers’ basic disposition is to satisfy the cravings of their unredeemed flesh (Phil. 3:19; 2 Pet. 2:10). – MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 51940-51942). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

[13] Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 3: Romans to Philemon. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 143.

[14] 8:7 conscience . . . is defiled. The consciences of some newer converts were still accusing them strongly with regard to allowing them to eat idol food without feeling spiritually corrupted and guilty. They still imagined that idols were real and evil. A defiled conscience is one that has been violated, bringing fear, shame, and guilt. See notes on Romans 14:20–23.―MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 53635-53637). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

[15] Meaning “we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.”―NASB.

[16] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 140.

[17] A quotation from Ps 69:9

[18] Gr ekklesia (“assembly;” “congregation, i.e., of Christians”)

[19] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 203.

[20] Or assure; convince

[21] Gr., parresia; Lit., “freedom of speech” “outspokenness”