Freedom From Conscience

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

The next chapter…Freedom From Conscience – Part 1

(The next couple of days are a tad ‘heavy’…so bare down and work through it…😊)

Let’s consider the question of freedom from my conscience. (defining conscience as awareness of internal and external existence.) There are two attitudes which the Word of God and the study of church history warn us against if we are to avoid mistakes.  The first one is perfectionism, as it has been called theologically.  This is the teaching that a Christian can be perfect in this life.  This view falls into two areas.  The first is the teaching sincerely held by many, that at a certain point in a man’s life there comes come second blessing, after which he never sins again.  The early Wesley taught this—not the later Wesley, for he began to see that this could not be consistently held.  But there is another form of perfectionism, which holds that we may know perfection for the moment.  As we have seen, it is true that our lives are lived on a moment-by-moment basis; this view talks of a moment-by-moment total moral ‘victory.’   

So the question arises whether we could expect to have perfection, either totally or even for this one moment.  And I would suggest that such an expression simply gets us caught in a swamp, in which we have endless discussions concerning some abstract idea of complete victory, even in this one moment.  The phrase that often is used is that we can have freedom from ‘all known sin.’  But I feel that as we consider first the Word of God and then human experience, we must understand that there is a problem in the word ‘known,’ and also a problem in the word ‘conscious,’ if we talk of ‘conscious’ sin.  The problem is using either or both of these words is the fact that since the fall, man has habitually fooled himself.  We fool ourselves deep inside our subconscious and unconscious nature.   

The more the Holy Spirit puts his finger on my life and goes down deep into my life, the more I understand that there are deep wells to my nature.  Modern psychology has dealt with these under the terms unconscious and subconscious, and though the philosophy behind modern psychology is often fundamentally wrong, surely it is right in pointing out that we are more than merely that which is on the surface.  We are like the iceberg; one-tenth above and nine-tenths below.  It is a very, very simple thing to fool ourselves, and that is why we must question this word ‘known.’  If I say I can have freedom from all ‘known sin, surely I must acknowledge the meaningfulness of the question:  What do I know?  Until I can describe what I know, I cannot go on meaningfully to ask whether I can have freedom from ‘known’ sin.  As the Holy Spirit has wrestled with me down through the years, more and more I am aware of the depths of my own nature, and the depths of the results of that awful fall in the Garden of Eden.  Man is separated from himself.   

Now we must understand, too, in the framework of the Scripture, that since the Fall everything is under the covenant of grace.  The covenant of works is destroyed by the deliberate, free, unconditioned choice of Adam and Eve.  In its place, by the grace of God, with the promises begun in Genesis 3:15, a man was immediately given the promise of the work of the Messiah, coming in the future.  Thus from the time of the Fall onwards, everything rests upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, not upon ourselves, not in ourselves.  Hence if there is any real victory in my life, it must not be thought of as my victory or my perfection.  Such a notion does not fit the scriptural picture of man or God’s dealing with us since man has sinned.  It is not my victory, it is always Christ’s victory; it is never my work or holiness, it is always Christ’s work and Christ’s holiness.  When I begin to think and to grow in the idea of my victory, there is really no true victory.  To the extent that I am thinking about my sanctification, there is no real sanctification.  I must see it always as Jesus Christ’s.   (con’t tomorrow) 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

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