“Give a little whistle, and always let your conscience by your guide.” Jiminy Cricket (1)
In the movie, Pinocchio, the little puppet wanted to be a good boy and Jiminy was going to help him. All he had to do was whistle. Oh if that were only possible!!
The presumption in the movie is that the conscience is never wrong, but is that true? It’s true that we do need to let our conscience be a guide, but what if it’s wrong? Who sets the conscience anyway, God? If God sets the conscience then none of us would have ever sinned. Of course we all have. [1John 1:8]. If God sets the conscience then how do we explain Saul?
Saul was a Jew, zealous toward God, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” [Acts 22:3]
He was among the religiously elite class of Pharisees, “….after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” [Acts 26:5]. He succeeded beyond his equals far and above any other. “And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” [Galatians 1:14]. Concerning the Law of Moses he kept it diligently. [Philippians 3:5]
Because of his zeal toward God, he persecuted the sect called “the way” because he knew in his heart that it was wrong, even consenting to the death by stoning of Stephen. He persecuted Christians, consenting to their deaths, breathing out threats and slaughter against them. Delivering both men and women into prison. He petitioned the chief Priests to give him permission to go to other cities and synagogues, that if he found any “of the way”, he may bring them bound to Jerusalem. [Acts 7:58 ; 8:1,3; 9:1,2; 22:4]
If God sets the conscience, then what happened to Saul of Tarsus? He said, “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” [Acts 26:9] He was very sincere about his persecution of the church. [Acts 23:1]
Our conscience is our moral compass, but only if it is set correctly, pointing to true north. In other words, attuned to truth. [John 17:17]
The trouble is that our consciences are sometimes set wrong. Saul, later called Paul, had a conscience that was set toward God, but with wrong, outdated information. [1Timothy 1:13]
IS SINCERITY ENOUGH?
If sincerity, based on our conscience, determines whether or not we go to heaven, then Saul was heaven bound while he persecuted the Lord. [Acts 9:4]. A famous denominational Pastor said that he doesn’t know if a Jew, Muslim or an atheist is lost if they don’t follow Jesus. “You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …” (2)
If sincerity is enough, then why did Jesus tell Saul, “….Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” [Acts 9:6b]? If sincerity is enough, then why was he told “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16]? If sincerity is enough, why did he tell others to confess that Jesus is the Christ? That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [Romans 10:9]. If sincerity is enough, why did he tell others to repent? [2Corinthians 7:9]. If sincerity is enough, why did he tell others to be baptized? [Romans 6:3]
GIVE A LITTLE WHISTLE
Oh, it would be nice if we could just whistle and have Jiminy show up to keep us out of trouble? Jesus is no cricket, and He’s not a pet that we call to do our bidding. No sir, we have been given control over our conscience, and we are to train it. Jesus showed us the way….
1 – Walt Disney Productions 1940.
2 – Larry King Live. http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.htm