Have you ever had someone that just didn’t see eye to eye on a certain issue with you?
It wasn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, it wasn’t a ‘black’ or ‘white’ issue, it really amounted to a whole lot of nothing!
There was no principle or doctrine at stake.
No one’s life was at stake.
/Nothing of any great consequence of itself pertained to the whole matter/; but they didn’t leave it alone and they turned a mole hill into a mountain.
And because of their reaction; not the issue itself; there is now a problem either at work, at home, or unfortunately at church.
There’s an old saying, which says; “if you ever find the perfect church, then don’t join it; because once you do; it will cease to be perfect!”
That has some amount of truth in it; but not the whole truth.
That is certainly true of ever church because no one is perfect!
There’s no perfect church because there’s no perfect people; boil us all down and you will get the same basic matter, sin!
However, whoever said that saying didn’t know any about church; because we don’t come here because we are perfect, but because Jesus is perfect!
If we were perfect we would be worshipping ourselves instead worshipping God!
So if your’re not perfect this is still the place for you.
There was no perfect church of the New Testament because there were no perfect people.
Besides all that God was doing of calling Gentile and Jew together into the body of Christ; something absolutely brand new mind you; still the age old problem of getting along simply just didn’t go away.
People; even saved people had to work at getting along in the house of God over things that we can call /non essentials/ things.
Remember /essential things/ of the faith are doctrine, principles, philosophy of ministry.
Things that we have to be in agreement on for to fellowship under the same roof.
No agreement on the essentials things then there’s no unity, fellowship.
But there are also /non essentials/ things, like what color your like, what type of car you drive, what type of sports you like if any, how you part your hair, what news channel you like, what side of town you live on, whether you went to college or not, things that I think really aren’t going to matter in eternity.
You would be surprised how many folks lay out of church because for no other reason than what we could call a non essential reason.
“Well, I don’t like that way the church looks from the road.”
That in our time the non essentials have replaced the essentials when people consider a church for their church.
It should be that way, but it is to some extent.
But dealing with non essential issues have always be a dividing point in churches.
Paul address the problems that non essentials cause in the church.
Paul says also who has the problems with the non essentials.
The Apostle Paul devoted nearly five chapters in two of his letters to the problems caused by people who have a weak conscience: I Corinthians 8, 9 and 10 and Romans 14 and 15.
God wants us to develop a strong conscience because Christians who have a weak conscience can create problems for themselves and for other believers.
In fact, I am convinced that many of the divisions and dissensions in churches today and across the evangelical world are caused by people who have a weak conscience.
Let's consider this matter of a weak conscience by looking at three important points.
!! I. Characteristics of a Weak Conscience
First, let's consider the characteristics of a weak conscience.
How can I tell whether or not I am a Christian with a weak conscience?
There are at least eight characteristics of the person with the weak conscience.
!!! A. Saved and in the Church
First of all, he is saved.
Let's make this very clear.
He is saved, and second, he is in the church.
In Romans 14:1 Paul said, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations."
In other words, this person is a Christian, and he is in the church.
He's not supposed to be kept out of the church because he has a weak conscience.
It’s a sad fact about churches; but folks in churches are just like folks out there in the world; they gravitate to others that share the same views and bias that they have about non essential things to the point that they exclude others.
You have heard them called by another name, ‘/Clicks’/.
The strong click was excluding, or wanting to exclude these folks who had as Paul called it a weak conscience.
!!! B. Lacks Knowledge
Third, he lacks knowledge.
In I Corinthians 8:7 we read these words: "However, there is not in every man that knowledge; for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it [this food] as a thing offered unto an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled."
The problem in the Corinthian church was "Should a Christian eat meat that's been offered on the altar of some idol?"
The cheapest meat in Corinth was available from the butcher shops at the temples.
The strong Christians said, "An idol is nothing, and meat offered to an idol is not defiled; so I'll buy that meat."
The weak Christians said, "Oh, no!
We were saved out of idolatry, and that meat has been defiled!"
And so the weak Christians did not have enough knowledge to understand spiritual things.
They were still living, as it were, in infancy, and they didn't realize that food itself is neither good nor bad in relation to the spiritual life.
They lacked what Paul called “Knowledge.”
Now where do you think that this knowledge that Paul refers to comes from?
TV Guide, newspaper, or the Word of God?
/(We will come back to this point)/
!!! C. Easily Wounded and Offended
A fourth characteristic is that the person with the weak conscience is easily wounded and offended.
First Corinthians 8:12 says, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ."
Romans 14:15 says, “But if thy brother be grieved with /thy/ meat, now walkest thou not charitably.
Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
!!! D. Unstable
The person with the weak conscience is very easily wounded, very easily offended, and he's bothered by the freedom practiced by those who have a strong conscience.
This leads to the fifth characteristic: He's very unstable, and he stumbles very easily.
Romans 14:13 says, " Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in /his/ brother's way."
Little children who are immature stumble over the smallest things.
But adults, who have learned how to walk and balance themselves, are not usually troubled by those things.
Unstable in relationships, there in love one day and our of love the next.
Unstable in church, always in and out of church.
Unstable in life; their jobs, their parenting, their marriage.
!!! E. Critical of Others
A sixth characteristic of a person with a weak conscience is this: He is very critical of others.
Romans 14:3,4 says, "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him who eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him.
Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?
To his own master he standeth or falleth.
Yea, he shall be held up; for God is able to make him stand."
In the Roman church the problem was what you should eat and on what day you should honor God.
They had problems with diets and days.
The weaker Christians said, "Oh, we cannot eat this meat!
We cannot eat these things!"
The stronger Christians said, "You can eat anything."
The weak Christians said, "Certain days are very special, and we must commemorate these days."
The stronger Christians said, "Every day is a good day if you're walking with the Lord."
The result was a divided church because the weaker Christians were critical of the stronger Christians.
!!! F. Legalistic
The Christian with the weak conscience is legalistic.
He lives by rules and regulations because he fears freedom.
He is like a child.
A child enjoys being smothered by Mother's love—he enjoys the protection.
Then one day Mother says, "OK, you're going off to school."
The child says, "I don't want to go to school."
So he runs home from school, or he hides when he should be going to school.
Why? He's afraid of freedom.
It's dangerous to cross the street; it's dangerous to be thrown into a crowd of people you don't know.
Mature adults don't worry about that.
In fact, as we mature in the Lord we are happy to have new experiences, to meet new people, to face new challenges.
The person with the weak conscience is legalistic.