Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Sharpened Conscience

“The fundamental matter at stake, for Reformation Theology, is that consciences are sharpened by the Law and comforted by the Gospel.” – Oswald Bayer

A guilty conscience is when a past or present sin/error/mistake has taken hold of your mind in a way that shackles your inner being.  Without hearing and experiencing Grace, even Christians can get bogged down in this mindset.  It is a slave mindset where you spend your life trying to justify yourself with self-salvation projects.  You try to make up for the mistakes in your life, or the issues you struggle with, by finding comfort in things other than Christ. 

Our Theology is so important.  The first part of my life as a Christian was spent listening to whatever a “higher authority” on the Bible told me.  There was no theological review on my part or enough personal bible studying.  I had the idea that I wouldn’t understand it, not realizing the power of the Spirit of the Lord within me to help in this grasping of Scripture. 

I recently received the quote up top via a Twitter post.  It made a lot of sense to me and explains my growth as a Christian personally and towards others.  The thought that the Law sharpens our conscience is terrific.  The Law is there to show our sin.  Once we are broken by that, the Holy Spirit leads us to the Gospel to lift us up and carry us the rest of our days.  The Law shouldn’t bring guilty conscience or shame; it should continually remind you of what Jesus accomplished in your place.  Therefore, the Law brings a sharpening and understanding of whom Jesus is and His perfection for us.  It makes us aware of our need for a Savior while sharpening the distinction between Law and Gospel.  The day you get the Law and you get a better picture of human depravity is the day the Gospel takes a hold to show you a better picture of God’s Holiness and His radical grace in unconditional love.  There is no more comfort than to know that the only One True God sent Himself to be human and perfectly live according to His Law in your place.  Out of this mercy, comes great transforming power by the Spirit.

This sharpening allows us to love our neighbors without judgment.  Also, grace liberates us to be forgiving and understanding towards others.  It all comes from a better awareness of our own sin, through the law, accompanied by a deeper understanding of the distinctions of the gospel from it. 

So to reiterate some points, reformed theology provides a better picture of the Holiness of God, the depravity of man, and a distinction between Law and Gospel.  All of this is essential to the freedom Jesus came to deliver.  Putting this growth into real life situations shows itself in community and love where God has you. 
That is my Pitch for today!