Something You Don’t Have to be Ashamed of

A few weeks ago my wife had two children she was babysitting with her in the car when one of them started singing along with a song that came on the radio. A popular soft rock station was tuned in, and my wife was appalled by what the young girl was singing. But the girl said her mom lets them sing to that song all the time.

The children are from a Christian family, but the parents are divorced. My wife didn’t want to be a bad influence on them by what she was listening to. She had an attack of conscience, and she wondered if she should be listening to such questionable material herself.

Since then, she has listened to one of the contemporary Christian music stations in our area. Not ideal as I see it, but it’s at least a better alternative.

It’s the matter of conscience I want to follow up on in my thoughts for today. I read a book called The Vanishing Conscience, written about 20 years ago by John MacArthur. He had much to say about the need for those of us who are believers in Christ to live our lives in such a way that we can have a pure and clean conscience.

He cited several verses from Paul. I’ll mention just two here. I Timothy 1:5 says: Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: The first part of 2 Timothy 1:3 says: I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience…

It’s so easy to enjoy what the world enjoys and dismiss it as something that can’t get to us. We take the attitude that we’re sanctified, after all, and the world is just the world, and it’s going to do whatever it does. Besides, we’re in the world, not of it.

Yet, as helpful as our conscience can be, MacArthur points out, our conscience is like a sky light, not a light bulb. It lets in light and doesn’t originate it. Our conscience can be shaped by what we choose to put into it or by what we choose to ignore and overlook. Thus, it’s important to steep ourselves in God’s holy word.

Somewhere along the way, MacArthur mentioned Romans 1:16-17, which says:For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

I now see this passage in a new light. Let me explain.

When I hear preachers quote this passage, I hear a guilt trip being laid on me and his other hearers. It’s as if he’s saying, “Paul was not only not ashamed of the gospel, but he was proud of it. You should be, too. What’s more, not being ashamed of the gospel motivated Paul to witness to thousands, and you should go out and do that, too.”

Sorry, but that doesn’t help me be a better witness.

Here’s what makes more sense to me. There are so many things that bring shame to our lives, if our conscience isn’t dulled or stamped out. Singing along to filthy music should be one. Using profanity is another. (Guilty as charged on both counts.) Or how about drinking too much wine at the company Christmas party?

Those are little things perhaps, but the idea is that the gospel of Christ isn’t like those things. It isn’t something that brings us shame.

Paul wanted to live life with a pure conscience before man and God. If anybody knew about things to be ashamed of, he was the one. After all, he had killed Christians. In 1 Timothy 1:15 he refers to himself as the chief of sinners. He knew how to put things in proper perspective. That’s why he could indeed say without reservation, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

Isn’t that a more attractive way to see Romans 16-17? It is for me.

Want to do something that’s clean and wholesome? Get immersed in God’s word. Then share the gospel with others. It’s nothing you have to be ashamed of.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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