Read verses 9-11
Q: What is Paul saying must be considered?
A: The conscience.
Q: What exactly is the conscience?
A: It is that inner judge which condemns us when we do wrong and commends us when we do right.
Our conscience “bears witness” to us.
in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
— Romans 2:15
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit,
— Romans 9:1
Q: What is supposed to be the difference between the conscience of the saved versus the unsaved?
A: First of all the Christian’s conscience has been purged (Heb. 9:14) so that it no longer acts according to the world’s ways, and second it is characterized as a “good conscience” which operates according to biblical standards (1 Ti. 1:19). When repeated sin is not judged and confessed the conscience becomes “defiled” (Titus 1:15) and eventually become “seared” (1 Ti. 4:2) to the point that it no longer convicts. The goal is to strive for a conscience that is void of any offense where BOTH man and God are concerned.
“In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.
— Acts 24:16
Q: So whose conscience is Paul mainly concerned with in this instance?
A: New or immature Christians who have a weak conscience. (v.7, 10 & 12)
Q: What is the problem with a believer characterized by a weak conscience?
A: They can become offended to the point that it might actually lead them into sin. Because they are spiritually immature they might react to such an extreme that it produces spiritual damage.
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
— Hebrews 5:11-14
Q: So what is the greater principle which Paul is actually teaching the more spiritually mature?
A: Whatever a Christian does, even if it does not hurt him, it must never be allowed to hurt anyone else. Rather than limiting us it allows for a greater witness and blessing not just to fellow believers, but can assist in winning the lost to Christ.
Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.
— 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
Application: Consider your brother’s conscience. For a mature Christian with a strong, biblically-grounded conscience, they will not be affected by what takes place with the unsaved all around them, but a Believer with a weak conscience may be confused and led into trouble. As with most things in a Christian’s life, it is not a test of knowledge but an application of faith.