Do You Know How to Train Your Inner Voice?

Do You Know How to Train Your Inner Voice

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God gave everyone an internal moral thermostat, the conscience. Con-science in Latin means co-knowledge, our inner voice. It is one of the means of grace that teaches us how to think and react properly. Along with the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the people of God, our consciences assist us in the transformation process that can lead to relational and situational harmony. Of course, a miscalibrated conscience will not do this, choosing instead to be our worst enemy, making it essential to learn how to train our consciences.

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Conscience Molding

Biff, a believer, has been living in sin for many years. Though many people have brought his problems to his attention, he has never repented. Typically, Biff reasons along the lines of justifying, rationalizing, or blaming. Sometimes, he alleviates his troubles through alcohol and Internet surfing. The problem for Biff is that his conscience is not neutral but a reactor to his choices. A conscience will react to how we respond to situations in our lives. If we do not respond biblically to sin, our conscience will react by laying down a thin hard layer over the top of our inner voice, which is what happened to Biff. He is similar to a person who lays in the sun too long. The skin toughens in reaction to the rays. Whether an unrepentant sinner or a sunbather, the result is the same: our sensitivities are altered in unnatural ways.

Depending on how we respond to guilt and conviction, we can soften or harden our inner voice. A tender conscience has a sensitivity to the truth of God’s Word. This person wants to walk in line with the gospel, responding promptly and precisely to conviction. The Spirit of God and their inner voice are singing the same tune. Even a temporary transgressor can live in a continual state of love, joy, peace, holiness, and victory if he is a genuine repenter who wants to love God and others more than himself. But if a person chooses to resist repentance, their conscience will take revenge on them. They won’t experience the freedom in Christ’s work on the cross that removes transgressions. This person will strategize a different way to deal with their sin, which will be futile, only releasing the conscience to take revenge on the captive soul. Let me explain.

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Hard Conscience

When a person is unrepentant, the conscience has no choice but to harden itself. It does this so the transgressor can live with himself. Let me illustrate. If I repeatedly cut my hand, eventually, it will toughen to the point where I will not be able to feel the pain. A healthy body is supposed to react this way as a form of self-preservation. Our God-given consciences will do something similar if the transgressor refuses to repent. The conscience is trying to coexist with a person who refuses to stop harming it. The side-effect is the unrepentant will lose the possibility of having a biblically informed conscience because he desensitized himself to the truth of God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:2). One of sin’s greatest deceptions is how it blinds the mind from perceiving its dangers. It does this by muting the inner voice, a gift God gave to all people—saved or lost—so they could distinguish truth from error (Romans 2:14-15).

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Tender Conscience

A tender conscience is different from a hard one and not the same as a weak conscience. A person with a weak conscience, as described in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, is a person on the opposite end of the spectrum from the hard conscience individual (1 Timothy 4:2). While Biff has rationalized and justified his sin away, the weak conscience person has a longer sin list than God does; many of their perceived sins are not sins at all. For example, in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, the new converts believed eating meat offered to idols was a sin. Paul said eating meat sacrificed to idols was not wrong. He identified their problem as a weak conscience. They needed conscience retraining to eat meat offered to idols while not experiencing self-imposed self-condemnation for doing something others said was wrong, though God did not. But it was a big deal for these new, weak Christian converts. Sometimes, our families, religious environments, and cultural traditions falsely teach a rigid lifestyle contrary to the Bible. Legalism is rife with a bunch of weak-conscienced people.

Biblical Conscience

God’s Word should inform every conscience how to live well in His world. Our conscience and the Bible should be in the same place when trying to decipher what is actual sin and what is not while responding accordingly. You will never be freer than when your conscience and God’s Word sing in tune. Unfortunately, Biff has chosen to ignore the conviction he senses, as informed by the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and his friends. He is using twisted techniques, such as justification, rationalization, blaming, and alleviation, to silence his inner voice. Biff thinks because he can’t hear his conscience, he is okay. He is not. Silence is not golden for Biff. God gave him a warning signal, but he has shut it down to where he’s flying blind, the worst of all human conditions: blind to our blindness.

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Call to Action

  1. How would you describe your conscience? Is it weak, hard, or biblically informed?
  2. Why is understanding your conscience crucial when thinking about decision-making? How can your conscience shape your decision-making ability for good or evil?
  3. What have been some of the shaping influences that have trained your conscience for good or evil?
  4. If your conscience has adverse shaping influences, what do you need to do now that you know the problem?
  5. There are five common ways we alter our consciences. The first is biblical, while the other four are damning and distorting: repentance, justification, rationalization, blaming, and alleviation. Which one of these do you use most often?
  6. There are four means of grace to train your conscience correctly.
    • Canon: God’s Word
    • Comforter: The Spirit of God
    • Community: Your Friends
    • Conscience: Your Inner Voice
  7. How are these four means of grace working for you, and what changes do you need to make so your conscience is more biblically informed, releasing you to have the clarity you need to make decisions?

Most people do not connect their conscience to decision-making; still, it is the prerequisite because the clarity or cloudiness of the conscience will establish how we make decisions and set the trajectory and consequences for those decisions. If our conscience is not clear, we cannot be confident that we have made the right decision.

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