January, 2003 Wingspread
DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAVE A CONSCIENCE?
By Billie Marie Zal
I've heard many a person say that this individual or that individual "doesn't have a conscience." They are wrong. Everyone who is ever born has a conscience and unless there is brain damage or inability to understand anything, we live with that conscience from the first moment we howl in anger at the awful experience of being bor until our death.
Of course babies do not know they have a conscience. They only know that they want instant gratification of their needs, as it happened in the mother's womb. But it is a parent's duty to begin to teach the baby that all his needs might not be met instantly. That comes later..
It is wise to give even infants a kind of "order" to live by. Otherwise, how can he ever know the difference between the experiences that come daily to a new born?
By the time a baby is a year old, he is beginning to see the world around him and has come to the conclusion that he has a mother and a daddy and sometimes brothers and sisters. This is supposed to be a happy, secure time of his life but more often than not, it is not happy and it is not secure. Mother is working, Daddy is missing, and brothers and sisters don't especially like to be stuck with his care. A baby has feelings and knows very well what is going on around him.
When a child is eighteen months or older, he begins to get a bit of insight into what is "right" and what is "wrong." This is when his conscience (which has been there all along) begins to work. It is also a good time for a parent to be able to say "NO" and not feel guilty about it.
He doesn't like it, but he gets a pretty good idea that he is not, after all, the Master of his Universe."
My own son knew this reality by the time he was almost two years old. I had been so very grateful to God for giving him to me; he was adopted when he was three months old and I doubt that any child---adopted or not--ever had anymore love than my little baby boy. He was the most important thing in my life; I never left him with anyone, and I was constantly frightened that God might take him away from me. This was an end result of being told as a little girl, that if I was not "good," then God would take my Daddy away. I determined to be good but of course I found out that "there is none good, no--not one" when I read my Bible. But I did my best.
When Richard, my son, turned two, I knew by then that he had a very, very strong will. He obviously did things his way, and sometimes his way was not my way. What to do? I believed that every child should be disciplined as soon as was necessary, and now it was necessary. I began to say "No" and if he howled and stomped he got a small whack across his training pants. I believe it relieved him of "duty--" the duty of making himself a little god unto himself. By then, he did have somewhat of a conscience and he knew certain things were a big NO. He was so blessed--to have limits set, and to know he was loved no matter what.
As the years went by, my own life took a dramatic turn: I was born again when he was five years old. And then I knew in my heart that I had been a good mother and loved him the way God had wanted me to love him. I would have spoiled him, had I loved God less.
I only related this little story to you because you need to know that you were not born into this world with no inner Light---no conscience. One man's definition of concsience is: "Always refers to right and wrong." And in the Bible, conscience means an "inner awareness." Actually, the fact that we were made in the image of Adam, who had been made in the image of God, gives us that ground for a conscience. HE IS THERE.
A conscience can be used for good things as well as bad things. Religious people (yes--even "church people")--can use it to be jealous and "put down" those whom they know very well are living in the very presence of God. Conscience can cause us to hate and then excuse our hatred. Consicence is there----either accusing or excusing us (as God's Word says), and we had better listen.
Conscience can turn us away from evil, but usually it doesn't. It's much easier to sin than it is to live by God's inner witness. But conscience is there, and it gives us that sense of being all alone in the entire Universe, with God. Don't tell me that you've never felt that way---it's a feeling of downright terror, and because I am as human as anyone else, I have had that terror come upon me. It is one of the means by which God eventually brought me to my knees that snowy night in Chicago, crying out for His mercy and forgiveness. My consicence, thank God, had brought me into the very presence of our God and I wanted nothing more than to humble myself before Him and let Him do as He would with what was left of my life. I was set free from the nagging, gnawing fear of a conscience that told me where I would spend eternity if I continued in the direction I was going. I came out of that Assembly with a new life---free from the penalty (death & hell), the guilt (soulish accusations of my sinful life), and the power (to "put off the old man (Adam) and put on the new Man, Christ"!!
This is the meaning of the words, "born again." People have used the phrase carelessly and foolishly, but if we are born again, we no longer "continue in sin." We not only have our conscience cleansed, but in its place the Holy Spirit--who is a Person, a third party of the Holy or Triune God--- who tells us when we sin, who tells us when we are living and walking in the Light of His Spirit, and of the certain judgment---eternal separation (hell) from the God of all heaven and earth, if we refuse His invitation to "come unto Him."
That is pretty simple, but there are so many things that the Church does not teach today as to what is "right," and "what is wrong." Maybe this is because there might not be all that many professing believers today who have ever entered into the new birth and experienced it.
I knew all my life most of what was right or wrong. Mama saw to that, she was a strict disciplinairian and I thank God that she was; I might have thought I was something in my teen years. Most teens do. But as I grew older I knew I would eventually be "on my own" and Mama would not be there to correct me and then what?
Well, my conscience was there, and it worked overtime. I remember when I was just thirteen years old, all of the kids went to a big party at a girl's home. Her boy friend was moving to Shreveport, Louisiana, and it was a "farewell party." None of us had ever done anything (that I knew of) which would be considered really bad....but there this girl was, sitting on his lap and they were into heavy petting. Frankly, we were all embarrassed and found other things to do. But I couldn't understand why she could do that right in front of her mother.
As the party wore on, they made up the game of "post office." I had never kissed a boy and had no idea of a "real kiss." So I was surprised when this girl's boy friend called for me to come into the room where he waited for a "special delivery." I opened the door and he grinned and grabbbed me and gave me a REAL kiss----and I was horrified. I got out of there--fast.
But my consicence was absolutely terrorizing me.
When I got home from the party (I had made a hasty exit), Mama met me at the door and I began to cry. She said, "What in the world is the matter? What happened?" And between my wailing I managed to cry out, " I kissed a boy at the party."
Instead of my Mama taking this opportunity to help me make a rule of decency in my life concerning kissing boys, she began to laugh. I suppose in a way it was funny, but I honestly believe I was convinced by my conscience that this kind of behavior should be ruled out in my life.
Most of you will not agree, I know that. But if God had taken the trouble to use my conscience to judge right or wrong, then I owed HIM a lot. I must say that the experience did not lead me into a "life of debauchery." We lived in a tiny town and everyone knew what everyone else did. That was a "boon" to our conscience, thank God. But a more drastic line would have been drawn between what was permissble by God Almighty and what was not.
I remained a decent young lady throughout high school, but most of us did. Conscience was not a thing to be laughed at---not then. Later on we would find out how deep is the pit that the devil digs for those who ignore God's light or inner voice in their souls. But we were a decent group of kids and we had fun----real fun.
So what has happened? Why have we--as a Society--come to the place where we can laugh at TV shows where the actors swear and kill and fight and live as if there is no God?
We have come to this place because back in the fifties, before television sets were in almost every house hold in our nation, there was not the infiltration of demonic spirits, invading our homes and our lives with filth. And, even when TV began to be afordable, the "shows" were usually decent. There were censors who didn't permit filthly language, sexual exploitation, and all that garbage to come into our living rooms today.
It is downright laugable now for most of you to see an "old" TV show where the children behaved--didn't talk back and use the "F Word" toward their parents. There were shows where things were funny, and the comedian did not need filth to make people laugh. You would not believe how clean these shows were. And, because your conscience has been "seared as with a hot iron," you wouldn't be the least bit interested in a "clean show." We as a society (Christians and unbelievers alike) want the "real thing." If a man kills someone in a TV "show" we want to see the gory details. We don't want to use our imagination, and that also applies to sexual deviancy.
Women have been slowly but surely desensitized by the advertising moguls that in order to be beautiful and attrative, we must wear swim suits that barely cover anything.....yet what happened to our conscience when we first considered the idea of a "Bikini"?
I will tell you what happened. The inner voice of the conscience was ignored. We wanted something more than what our conscience had for us. So we succumbed, much to our sorrow, to the god of the degradation of women.
I have another story to tell you about nudity and conscience. After I was born again, within a year, I believe it was, I was given some money to take a vacation to Biloxi, Mississippi.
I had not been swimming since I was saved and it did not occur to me that God would deal with me about it. But He did. I got out my swim suit; in today's "swim wear" people would laugh at it. The suit itself had a "skirt" which was as long as the women wear on the streets today, in their "mini-skirts," and not only that, but I had a little jacket to go with it.
When I walked out on the board walk, I had a brief sense of, "Maybe I shouldn't bare myself in public," but the desire to get a good tan and "show off the tan" when I got home overcame that twinge of conscience. And I lay there, like an idiot, getting a "good tan."
I do remember a man walking past me---then stopping and saying, "Hello, are you alone?"
I immediately yelled for my son, Richard, who was fishing at the end of the pier and the man vanished. I never even looked up and saw his face.
But I felt conscience stricken. And God gave me a good idea of what He had thought of my "sun bathing." I'd never had a sun burn in my life, but I got up, looking like a lobster after he's been boiled. In the night I began to itch and burn and my skin was on fire. I evidently was ALLERGIC TO THE SUN and I had to call the hotel doctor for sedatives. The itching continued for several days and by the time I got back home I was finished with baring my body to the public. I had been warned before about this and took no heed. Once when we were at a camp and the ladies came down to the pool, I said to a friend, "I wonder what John Wesley would think of this." (It was a Methodist Camp Ground, and Wesley is the person whom God used to establish the Methodist doctrine). A young pastor was nearby, and he said, "There is a ‘Greater than Wesley' among us." Of course he meant Jesus Christ, who was John Wesley's Lord and Savior. And yet I flung aside this word and had my chance to "show off" on my big vacation.
Well, I never showed off again and I realized that had I continued to do what my consicence forbad, eventually I would think nothing of strutting around in a Bikini and "showing off." I willl not get up on a soap box and "preach against nudity." I shouldn't have to, if a woman is born of God. But I don't like to see a sister exposing herself to men, believing she is just fasionable, and I am ashamed for her before Christ. I care about women and dread to
see the downhill run to their degradation.
As human beings, we have the right to listen to the conscience and if we do, we are drawn eventually into the presence of God, where the life we have led is revealed to us in all of its ugliness and we just do not want to be like THAT anymore.
That was my only cry that night, when my conscience came into a "collision with God" as one writer puts it. If you collide with God, you know it. You know you have nothing to offer Him; you have nothing to point to which makes you important to anyone; you have nothing but the picture of a person who is sinking fast into the oblivion of sin. And you just cry out, "I don't want to be like that anymore."
Then there is a stillness. The conscience stops accusing, and God's Holy Spirit takes His place within your heart. And you are free. The circumstances of your life do not matter anymore; the bars on your cell do not matter anymore. Deep, deep within your heart is that "peace that passes understanding" and you know beyond a doubt that "it is well with your soul."
Throughout the years of my life in Christ I have not been into any kind of "collision with God" within my heart. I have had tragic things happen---circumstances that made no sense at all---people who should have loved me have not only left but spoken ill of us here---and there has been no "big time" living simply because I think I deserve it.
I deserve nothing except the fruit of God's Holly Spirit IF I live in obedience to His Word and His will. When a fruit tree begins to grow, it takes awhile for the first fruit to appear.
I had an Apple tree here, and it took a few years before I got my first apple off that tree. But after that, the tree bore apples every summer. I had known that it would, it was made to bear fruit.
We, too, are made to bear fruit. God takes this life which we have lived so carelessly and when we give it back to Him, He plants it into the soil of His plan for us. He lets us "fall into the ground and die..." BUT, He tells us in His Word, "except the seed germ of the new life falls into the ground and die, it abides alone...." Then He goes on to say, "But if it die, it brings forth much fruit" (John 12:24).
Most believers today are taught that the "fruit" which He speaks of is a big influx of money, a big ministry, a big home, big job, saved children, etc. etc. etc. It is none of that.
It is the fruit of His Spirit which eventually makes us "into the image of His dear Son."
It is listed plainly in God's Word: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance. . . . " (Galatians 5:22).
This fruit in our lives "abides forever" and it is used not only to give us that image of our Lord whom we adore, but it is to be used for the multitudes who are "in the valley of decision."
They are hungry and if they see THIS fruit in our lives, they might reach out to us and we can then tell you of the mighty Love of God and the certainty of Eternity with Him once we are born of Him.
I, too, would like to "get on the band wagon of the prosperity preachers" if this message were truly of God. But it is not, and for now we must be satisfied with living out each day no matter what joys or disappointments it might bring, knowing that we are headed for "an inheritance reserved for us in Heaven." For now, we can wait. And Pray. And hope that this word to you might cause you to STOP,. listen to that inner witness from God, and take Him at His Word. It is not too late. You can be saved, and changed, and receive the best gift of all: eternal life with Him when you die and the "peace that passes understanding" now, while you live. I know all of this because it has happened to me and I and my little band of believers have proved the Word of God for 45 years and He is very, very real.
May our Father takes thesee words and breathe upon them and give you a new beginning and the joy of knowing that you will never again be alone.
PRAYER REQUESTS: FOR: The salvation of Patty Still's two daughters, Lisa and Michelle. Patty is a dear friend in Christ and lives in Covington, La., and our precious Sister Ann, a Carmelite Nun, brought us together!
FOR: Ken Hogan's trial, that God will show him favor; it's been set up again until February.
Ken asks for God's blessings upon his attorney, Catherine Hammaretam and for
the judge who will judge his case. Also upon Ken's jury who will decide life or death.
FOR: A very special request for James Walker's new grand daughter, who was born Nov. 18,
2002. She had no thumbs; one of her ears was closed; her kidneys are in front, not the
Back, and she was given 2-22 years to live. James is a dear brother who has discovered
The Reality of unconditional Love. He says he understands now, for he would gladly
give his own life for his precious grand daughter. This is Divine Love, impaarted to
him by God's Holy Spirit. He asks each one of you to name the following as you pray:
The little Baby: Alicia Denise Reed; Her Mother (James' daughter), Erica Colgan;
The grandmother, Michelle Colgan; and for her other grandmother and for James,
as he prays for his precious little grand daughter. She is a gift from God and His
love is with her all the days of her life.
FOR: Bryan Ross, at OSP, McAlester, Ok., that he will pass his GED test.
FOR; Anthony Grayson, our brother of many years as he enters a new facility at Sullivan C.F.,
Fallsburg, New York. Another of our brothers, David Berkowitz, is there and please
pray for him as he ministers to those inmates in Special Needs.
FOR: Our friends "across the highway from us" Jerry and Colleen Brock, as Jerry awaits
the results of some tests he recently went through. Pray for Jerry's total healing.
FOR: A dear friend's young daughter, who has "panic attacks," for her healing.
FOR: "Katy," a dear friend of Margaret's and mine, who lost a leg last year in an accident.
Her faith in God's Love is strong, and pray for her as she keeps the faith.
FOR: A youngster in prison who desperately seeks God's deliverance from sexual deviancy.
God cannot fail to answer such a cry & he will be delivered and made new.
FOR: Willie Caffey, a dear brother who paroled out & is living in Chicago with his precious
family. We intercede for Willie's new life.
FOR: Steve Murray's grandmother who is ill. Steve is at Ok.State Reformatory, Granite,Ok.
FOR: Steven Orr, that he keep the victory concerning his canteen supplies that were stolen.
Steve is at Diamond Back, Watonga, Ok.
FOR: Our brother, Robin Harris, as he begins a new job at Diamondback, Watonga, Ok.
We thank God for Robin's victories as he lives out his new life in Christ. Also pray
For the little Bible study group as they seek God's victories in their lives in prison.
FOR: Tony Trevino, whose past medical bills have prevented his using any gifts for canteen
Supplies. Tony has a wonderful attitude and Jesus is proud of him.
FOR: Raymond "P-Nut" Sanders, as he continues in his faith in Christ Jesus healing of his
cancer. P-Nut knows the reality of God's Love & he says that "this ole cancer is resting
On Jesus." I can't think of a more wonderful way to express what Jesus did for us
As He hung on the cross and "bore our sins and sicknesses in His body on the tree."
P-Nut is at Tennessee Colony, Texas.
FOR: Daniel Keith Perry's relatives, especially his randmother, Katherine and his brother,
Darrell. Daniel is at OSP, McAlester, Ok.
FOR: Jeremy Wolfe, who is at OSP, McAlester, Ok., that the Lord will allow him to go
Back to court and get some of his time knocked off his sentence. He asks that
No matter what, may the Lord's will be done in his life and may he one day be able to be Used of God to reach others.
FOR: Richard Bruestle, little brother of some 12 years, who discharged in July of 2002
And is back awaiting sentencing on new charges somewhere in Colorado.
FOR; Tommy Christmas, a dear little brother who is back in, awaiting sentencing. He is
Presently at Tulsa Co. Jail, Tulsa, Ok.
AND FOR US: That the seven of us here will never fail to lift up our hearts and minds to our Father in Heaven, that He might keep us in His will, and use our lives to further the Glory of His Kingdom not only now, but in the ages to come.
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