Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. [1 Timothy 1:19 (NLT)]
The barking dog came charging down the driveway toward me before skidding to a halt. “Thank you, God, for invisible fences,” was my relieved thought. Always staying about ten feet away, the yowling dog followed me as I walked along the street. While still furiously barking, he wasn’t about to cross that invisible barrier. There were some beautiful hydrangea between us and I debated about stepping closer to get a photo of their blossoms. While the threat of a shock was deterring the dog as long as I remained on the road, I wasn’t sure what he’d do if I ventured any closer. My stepping on his turf could have proven too much temptation for the fellow — he may have been willing to take the shock for a chance to show me who’s boss. My flower picture could wait until another day.
Life would be so much easier if I had an invisible fence. No, I don’t have a dog; the fence would be for me. It would warn me when I got too close to sin and give me a shock if I dared cross the line into sinfulness. When talk veered toward gossip, I’d heard a little buzzing sound; if I continued the conversation, I’d get a zap! The same thing would happen whenever pride reared its ugly head or when tempted to be selfish, deceitful or envious. I’m a quick learner; I imagine my behavior would improve quickly if I got a little shock every time I dared step across the line into sin!
Actually, I do have an invisible fence, only it’s called a conscience and it’s my built-in ability to know right from wrong. A gift from God, it is His voice planted within my heart. Unfortunately, just like a dog with an invisible fence, when sorely tempted, I, too, am capable of ignoring my conscience. Moreover, just as the battery in the dog’s collar can weaken or die, my conscience isn’t entirely reliable. It tends to be stronger when others are present, weaker when I’m alone and can even atrophy from lack of use. That’s why I like having the Holy Spirit at my side—He operates at full strength all of the time. Even when my conscience fails me, He is sure to convict me when my behavior doesn’t glorify Jesus—He might even give me a spiritual zap!
The paradoxical and tragic situation of man is that his conscience is weakest when he needs it most. [Erich Fromm]
God knows what each one of us is dealing with. He knows our pressures. He knows our conflicts. And He has made a provision for each and every one of them. That provision is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, indwelling us and empowering us to respond rightly. [Kay Arthur]