Christian (Religious) Liberty and the Conscience:

The Separation of Church and State

The separation of church and state is defined as a belief in a free church in a free state. Where those two truths are never eroded and never collide, you have freedom.

The conscience

The purpose of this message is to understand what is at stake in your church, in your country, in your home, in the place where you work. This is to be a refreshment of truths long held. Truth can never be destroyed, although men may try. We need to be able to see the subtitles of the inroads of secular society at every level in trying to undermine the conscience of people. We need to be grateful to our LORD for helping us, by hard wiring our minds be be able to discern the difference between right and wrong.

Dr. Rembert Carter spoke at a conference. In his introduction he concerning that which came from a writing of his, “The Land of the Free: Preserving the Landmarks”. He categorized all the GARBC resolutions, year by year by year. He said, “Since the fourth century, misguided Christians have wanted the pagan rulers to replace the Holy Spirit in convincing men that they ought to be converted. Emperor Constantine and his successors have left a pitiable heritage written in blood. Religious dissent has been costly. From the fourth century, and it continues to be to this day, there has been an ongoing effort by secular elements of society to intrude into the private personal domain of the religious conscience. They are seeking by rules, regulations, and laws to usurp God's word.” The people of conscience basically rest the tenants of their faith upon convictions, and convictions are not something that you negotiate. If it is a biblical conviction you stand there no matter what happens following. They secularists put people in a place where their conscience and convictions are assaulted.”

Today I would like to peel back the issue regarding religious liberty in the conscience.

In previous studies about the conscience, I have discovered that if you go to the library, as many different authors as there are, you will have different definitions. When you condense all of these you can still come up with a consensus of opinion. But it is best to come back to the Scriptures for the basis of the definition. So that we might have a landing spot I present this very simple definition of conscience. It is said to be that it is a mental faculty by which a person in the course of their living makes choices. Acts upon them are not according to his innate sense of right and wrong. Now, conscience that is tethered to the Scriptures, has the best chance the best opportunity of making right choices. To act upon right facts.

Here in Romans chapter 2, the statement that is made in verse 14 concerning the Gentiles, there were the Jews, they had the written revelation of God for their guide. Their conscience would be tethered to what they knew God required. But the Gentiles, the pagans , or the barbarians had no such blessing at that point of the apostles writing. So when you look to first number 14 where it says the Gentiles which have not the law, in other words they don't have an objective statement of God's purpose or intentions, they do by nature the things contained in the law.

Now where did that start.? How did the Gentiles which by nature, they never had read any portion of Scripture, much less heard any declaration of Scripture from a prophet or a priest or anybody, how could they possibly do by nature the things that are contained in the law? It is the simple explanation that it is a sovereign God who planted in their being and innate embedded sense of right and wrong. Not that is true, then how is it that those people which have an innate sense of right and wrong, how come they have a hard time doing what is right? Therein lies the depraved sin nature. The conscience to has been touched up by a man. So whether or not he has ever seen the law of God, such as the law of God might say, “thou shalt not steal”. So here it comes. He is walking on the street where he lives. And he sees that one of his neighbors has out on the shelf outside their home a basket of apples. So as he is walking down the street he sees one of those apples, he knows that a) they are not his. And b) he knows that they belong to someone else. But nevertheless knowing what is right and wrong, he reaches into the basket and picks up an apple and proceeds to munch on the Apple. As he is eating that Apple, the neighbor never saw him take that apple, all along is in a turmoil because of his conscience. He knew that when he picked that apple up out of the basket, it wasn't his. And as he was eating that apple he was partaking of fruit that did not belong to him. He could not possibly enjoy that apple. And now after he is finished eating the apple he has the core in his hand. What is he going to do with that core? You have to do something with that core. So then he just throws it off to the side. But as he continues on down the street he begins to wonder as to whether or not his neighbor had actually counted the number of apples over in that basket. So when he comes out and takes inventory he sees that one apple is missing.

When one knows to do right and wrong, and he does the wrong thing; it always leaves a bitter taste in his heart. This is true of any individual who has a conscience which is not yet seared beyond affection. And a people's conscience this can get to a place where they are hardened beyond any sensibility. They live and act like they have no conscience at all. They do things that are wrong shamelessly.

Let us look at this matter regarding the conscience again. It is a mental faculty by which in the course of human letting an individual makes choices. He acts upon those choices are not according to that person's innate sense of right and wrong.

The Gentiles according to its relevance to 14 according to a copy of the revelation of God had the sense of right and wrong embedded in their sole. They do.

The more a person goes against the conscience the harder it is to get back off of that edge of disobedience. Their sense of right and wrong is skewed by a misunderstanding of what objective truth they might have. A secular based conscience is handicapped by non conformity to the will of God. A conscience that is handicapped, is discussed in Titus 1:15. This is the equivalence to a guilty conscience. “...unto them that are defiled and unbelieving, is nothing pure, but even their mind and their conscience is defiled.” 1 Timothy 4:1 .”..speaking lies having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” That which is seared by a hot iron is marked in such a way that the mark is permanent in nature. It can never by changed to make it disappear. If something is cauterized, it seals over any further outflow as a blood vessel in surgery. When applied to the conscious, when the conscience is seared there is no backing off. The conscience is rendered permanently insensible. A lot of this can be seen in certain parts of the world today. Men act with seared consciences.

So you have the defiled conscience, the seared conscience, and then you look over to first Corinthians chapter 8 where you see another. This eighth chapter has an overall discussion on Christian liberty. This regarded whether you could eat meat offered to idols are not. In verse seven, if a man's conscience is weak and sensitive to an idol and he eats then that conscience is defiled. And so you have a weak conscience. This simply describes a born-again person who really doesn't have their handle yet or their mind wrapped around the facts of reality concerning the teaching of meat that is offered to idols. Nothing is as heavy as a guilty conscience.

In the book of Acts, if someone were to have their druthers, chapter 24 the apostle Paul in verse 16 says herein do I always exercise myself to have a conscience void of offense toward God and men. The word void means empty. Here's the truth of the matter. You cannot have a clear conscience unless the conscience is clear of offense between both God and man.

Looking Hebrews chapter 10, it may be that today you are struggling with a guilty conscience. What you do with it? I'll tell you what I do. In verse 19 - 22 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

So what should you do if you battle with a guilty conscience? What should you do with a guilty conscience that stems from unconfessed sin? What should you do with it? How do you get that clear conscience? Well I say to you do what I do. It works for me. Get back to the cross and lay your burdens down and the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse you from all your sins. That is the way to clear the conscience. Now when we think about this matter of conscience, think about to clarifying comments that are in Scripture. Romans 13:17 where you have the passage that deals with the Christian and civil government, you also have the grand exception rule in acts chapter 5:29 where it says (Romans 13 says obey Caesar in everything) pay your taxes, be a law-abiding citizen, beware the magistrate because he does not bear the sword in vain. But acts chapter 5:29 says this, whenever Caesar attempts to trample your conscience, by conscience owing greater loyalty to God you then disobey Caesar. This is only if scrupulously held biblical convictions held in the depths of your conscience are trampled. And for that reason no man can or should trample the conscience of another person. Freedom of the conscience to obey the will of God as one believes it to be through convictions cannot be usurped by the dictates of another's idea. Which is to say that there are many things that I hold to be absolutely biblically true and I am absolutely convinced to the day I die of the Scriptures concerning them. But I have no right under any circumstances to bind or compel another person's conscience based upon what I believe to be true. I cannot do what Constantine tried to do and what rulers before him tried to do and bring down the weight of an external authority upon the conscience of any man.

Today, you need to be aware that your conscience is about to be insulted in a way that would never happen 10 years ago.

There are three pillars of freedom. You might call these the Trinity of freedom. They're all codependent. If one of these pillars is destroyed the others collapse they are first of all:

They all stand or fall on religious liberty. If religious liberty can be chipped away at and brought down it will not be long before those who decry your liberty to believe what you wish will come after your right to vote. After they've got your right to vote then will be also an attempt to restrict how you spend your money or how much you pay for goods and services.

During the 1600s English kings sought to govern their people by an absolute monarchy. They wanted to rule by their own dictates. They manifested an extreme disregard for the written institutions of the land. They sought to claim what is become to be known in history books as the divine right of kings. The kingly absolutism was the only form of government sanctioned by God is what they believed. They believe that to be true in matters civic, politics, or religious. They were above all criticism. I would remind you that this among other things brought freedom loving souls to the shores of America. They came to escape such a notion as the divine right of kings. But you want to be concerned about our day where there seems to be abuse of executive privilege. We are to be a nation that is governed by the rule of law. It is to be as it is written in the Constitution. Whenever the Constitution is trampled upon it does not bode well for anybody no matter what side of the political aisle and you may be sitting on. It makes no difference.

- An abridged presentation by Pastor Daniel Kaminski

2012-02-26