Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

02/12/2020

Randall Caselman

 

The Celestial Fire Within

 

  Larry Pasley tells the story of a man who walked into a cafe, ordered a cup of coffee, took a sip, and tossed the remainder into the waitress’ face. Before the waitress could recover from her surprise, the man began weeping. "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry. I keep doing that to waitresses. I can't tell you how embarrassing it is, to have such a compulsion."  Instead of being angry, the waitress was sympathetic. She even suggested he see an analyst about his problem, saying "I happen to know of a Psychoanalyst. A family member has been treated by him, and they say he's as good as they get."

 

  Six months later, the man was back. Serving him a cup of coffee, she said: "Did you do what I suggested?" "I certainly did, I've been seeing the Psychoanalyst twice a week." He took a sip of the coffee and threw the remainder into the waitress’ face. Flustered, the waitress wiped her face with her apron saying "The Doctor doesn't seem to be doing you any good." "O yes, on the contrary," he claimed, "He's done me a world of good." "But you threw coffee in my face again!" "Yes." The man replied. "But it doesn't embarrass me, nor do I feel guilty anymore!"

 

  Conscience. It disturbs our status quo. Conscience is an all-seeing eye, watching what we think, do and say. We cannot hide from it. George Washington said, "We should labor to keep alive in our breast that spark of celestial fire called conscience." Conscience, one of God’s greatest blessings.

 

• Conscience caused David to cry, "Have mercy upon me O God, blot out my transgressions, wash me from mine inequity, cleanse me from my sin for I acknowledge that I am a sinner, and my sin is always before me."

 

. Conscience caused Judas to wail "Take the money for I have betrayed innocent blood."

 

• Conscience caused Isaiah to say: Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of host."

 

• Conscience caused Peter to slip into the shadows weeping as he heard the rooster crow.

 

• Conscience prompted those on Pentecost to cry out, "Men and brothers, what shall we do?"

 

  Conscience is the eye of the soul. It checks our thoughts and motives, our words, and actions every waking moment. Some believe it never sleeps, functioning even subconsciously. Conscience has no light of its own; "It is not within man who walks to direct his own steps." Conscience must be illuminated by our understanding of God’s Word. Yes, our conscience is a perfect guide to the extent that it is illuminated by the Holy Spirit through Divine Revelation: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 timothy 3.16-17).

 

  Conscience is a traffic light. There are times that conscience will encourage us to proceed; at other times it warns us to stop, or to proceed with caution. "That which is not of faith is sin."

 

So cowardice asks, is it safe?

• Expediency asks, is it proper?

• Selfishness asks, will it benefit me?

• Political correctness asks, is it popular?

• But conscience asks, is it right?

 

  Conscience acts as an umpire. An umpire doesn’t make the rules; he only enforces them. We must be careful here, an umpire is not always right. He may develop poor eyesight, not be in a position to see the play, or he may fail to properly know or interpret the rules. For conscience to function properly, it must know the rule book, God’s will through the Word. Paul contended that although he persecuted the church: "he did so in all good conscience before God," but he had not properly interpreted the Word. He had not seen Jesus as God in the flesh, Messiah, Savior.

 

  Conscience is a work. For our conscience to function properly, it must be kept healthy by continual faith, education, and experience.

 

Paul speaks of “having a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith; fighting the good fight; holding on to faith and a good conscience.” (1 Timothy1.5, 18-19).

 

1 Peter 3.16 says we are to “keep a clear conscience.”

 

The Hebrews’ Writer tells us that it’s possible to sear our conscience with repeated sin until it no longer functions properly: "Take heed,brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews  3.12-13).

 

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10.22)

 

  Church, again, we hear the Hebrews’ Writer and the Psalmist David say, we must pray that God help us maintain the Celestial Fire Within: "Pray that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way"… "Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting." AMEN?

 

—RANDALL CASELMAN