God has provided a whole range of mission critical gear that can help your students enter the spiritual battle and wage war, not on their friends but for their friends. Last time we looked at how every person’s inner knowledge of God provides an opening for the message of the gospel. This week let’s take a look at another piece of gear: every person’s conscience.
An Inner Sense of Right and Wrong
Everyone knows what it’s like to feel guilty. Why? God designed us that way! The Bible tells us in Romans 2:14-15,
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.
To one degree or another, everyone has some inner sense of right and wrong.
Most teenagers identify with this truth instantly. They know what it’s like to lie to someone and to be lied to. They’ve experienced envy, cheating, rage, injustice – from both sides of the transaction. Granted, some have a hardened, callous conscience because they’ve repeatedly turned a deaf ear to that inner prompting in their spirit, but deep down, everyone has an inner conscience that prods them to make judgments about right and wrong.
Can We Ever Measure Up?
The challenge is that many teenagers think they’re “good enough,” at least when using the measuring stick of mass murderers like Hitler or Osama bin Laden. That’s why it’s important to understand and communicate that our holy and perfect God’s measuring stick is perfection and none of us measure up to that (Romans 3:23).
I’ve found that nudging others to consider that they might be wrong about their “I’m good enough” assumptions can be an effective bridge toward the gospel message. Challenge your students to try using the following Ten Commandments measuring stick of the non-negotiables God required of the Israelites (and of us!). This yardstick pricks consciences and points people toward their need for God’s forgiveness that’s available through Jesus. Remember that it’s important to admit that we’re sinners, too, so that this isn’t just an exercise in pointing our fingers at others!
And don’t underestimate the power of prayer, for it is the Spirit of God’s job to convict and convince. Pray, knowing that the Spirit of God can open hearts to make them receptive to the gospel!
The Ten Commandments as Measuring Stick
Here’s my own paraphrase of one of God’s measuring sticks found in Exodus 20:3-17:
1. Have you ever put somebody else before God?
2. Have you ever put something else before God?
3. Have you ever used the name of God in vain by saying “God _____!” or “Jesus Christ!” or “God!” in anger?
4. Do you take one day a week to rest and reflect on God?
5. Have you always honored the wishes of your parents with a good attitude?
6. Have you ever murdered somebody? Before you answer that, remember that the Bible says that if you hate somebody you’ve broken the spirit of this command (1 John 3:15).
7. Have you sinned sexually with a member of the opposite or same sex? Remember that Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:28 that if we’ve lusted in our minds, we have broken this command in the eyes of God.
8. Have you ever stolen anything? What about time from your employer by surfing the Internet on company time? What about illegal downloading? What about stealing attention during class or stealing glory for somebody else’s accomplishments?
9. Have you ever lied about anything to anybody including exaggerations and “little white lies”?
10. Have you ever coveted what somebody else had? Somebody’s looks, strength, car, cash, girlfriend, or boyfriend?
(Excerpt adapted from Dare 2 Share: A Field Guide to Sharing Your Faith.)
Using this Piece of God-Given Gear
Help your students get a handle on this spiritual truth by giving them some practice role playing with each how they might use this piece of God-given gear in conversations with their friends who need Jesus. Here are some conversation starting questions on the topic:
- Do you think most people have an inner sense of right and wrong? If so, where do you think it comes from?
- Where do you turn when you’re wondering what’s right or wrong?
- Have you ever felt guilty about something?
- What, if anything, makes that sense of guilt go away for you?
- Can I share with you what’s erased the guilt for me?
- Do you think you’re good enough to get into heaven?
Make sure your teens understand that there’s escape from the guilt trip through the forgiveness found in Christ. A forgiveness that wipes our slate clean and removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.
And that’s news too good to keep to ourselves!