Truth is timeless! Neither God nor His Word are subject to change. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Yet, we are being told today by preachers and politicians that we must change with the times and not be so unyielding in our positions regarding correct doctrine and morality. Such advice is a slippery slope to hell. In this critical hour, it is imperative that each Christian examines his or her heart in light of the Scriptures to determine exactly what God has spoken and what He expects from us in terms of faith and obedience.
In 1521 Martin Luther stood trembling before Emperor Charles V and prelates of the Roman Church at the Diet of Worms. He had been summoned on charges that he was a heretic. Luther knew that by going to Worms, he risked being burned at the stake for his writings and teachings. Even so, Luther stood his ground when confronted with a demand that he recant what he had written. “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted one another— my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand.”
THE FOLLY OF THE ELCA’S ‘BOUND CONSCIENCE’ DECEPTION
Vast portions of the church no longer look to God’s Word for guidance on moral issues, but instead look to self-acclaimed experts whose vocabulary does not include the word “sin.” The authoritative declaration “Thus says the Lord” is being replaced in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with the self-serving expression— “My conscience is bound to what I personally believe.”
At their 2009 Churchwide Assembly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) used Luther’s words at Worms to justify a twisted concept of a “bound conscience,” regarding the ordination of practicing homosexuals. Their carefully orchestrated plan called upon members of the ELCA to respect one another’s conflicting opinions on this issue based on the principle of a “bound conscience.” What a perversion of truth! One is reminded of Israel’s rebellion when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Luther’s conscience was not bound by his own reasoning, or the norms of his culture, or by the teachings of the Roman Church. Luther’s conscience was captive to the Word of God. What you and I believe about anything has no validity if our beliefs are contradicted by the teachings of the Bible. Scripture alone must be the only basis of rightly judging all matters of faith and practice.
The ELCA’s concept of a “bound conscience” is certainly not being applied to congregations wanting to exit the denomination but whose property is being held hostage by the leaders of their respective synods. Their “bound conscience” concept is not being honored when ELCA pastors are censured and otherwise persecuted for speaking out against the ELCA’s acceptance of homosexual perversions, or when they seek to lead their congregations to withdraw from the ELCA.
CONSCIENCE MUST BE WASHED IN THE BLOOD
According to Scripture, the unregenerate conscience is incapable of rendering a right or reliable judgment about anything. Like the soul of man, the conscience also must be born again! Paul writes that in the last days people will “fall away from the faith,” because they follow “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons from those whose consciences had been seared as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
Each of us—body, soul, mind, conscience and spirit—must be washed in the blood of the Lamb! The only solution for a sin-impaired conscience is salvation in Jesus Christ. God’s Word instructs us: “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23). Scripture further declares: “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).