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Disputable Matters

July 7, 2019

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 14:1 (NIV)

Disputable matters are issues on which the Bible does not give a clear directive. We’re not talking about lying, stealing, or adultery—on which God’s Word is abundantly clear. We’re talking about matters of conscience in which God has given us freedom.

What should a Christian do about schooling—public school? Christian school? Home school? What about sports on Sunday? What about dances? What about entertainment? Movies? Rock music?

A weak conscience is more comfortable with rules than with freedom. The person with a weak conscience wants clarity about exactly what should be done in any given situation. Rules provide security for the weak conscience, which is why so many are drawn to legalism.

The person with a weak conscience has great difficulty when Christians disagree. They find it difficult to live with ambiguity: “Someone must be right and someone must be wrong!” But since conscience functions according to knowledge, Christians will disagree and so we need to learn patience and forbearance with each other.

A weak conscience is the natural condition of two kinds of people: People with a nervous disposition—“Just tell me what to do. I’m afraid of doing wrong. I don’t trust my own conscience.” And people who want to control others—“I want my conscience to be the conscience of everyone else.”

A weak conscience can lead a person into sin as much as a corrupt conscience or a seared conscience. It does this by fostering a proud, critical, and censorious spirit.

Are you more comfortable with rules or with freedom?

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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