On one occasion Brother Winkler gave the two following “sentence sermons.” The first was, “Where there is doubt, there is damnation.” The second was very similar, “If you doubt and you do, you are damned.”

In a broader discussion of how brethren should treat one another, Paul writes about not eating food that would cause a brother to stumble. Some could not with a clear conscience eat certain things even though there was nothing inherently wrong with them. Of that person Paul says, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

The conscience is a valuable tool God has given us to use. Unfortunately, it can become “seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2) and one can be “past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19). When this occurs, people may allow themselves to commit unspeakable acts. We must therefore guard our conscience so that it serves the purpose for which it was given.

The conscience alone cannot be our guide. However, we must never force ourselves, or others, to do those things which would cause the conscience to be violated. As a preacher, we may be pulled in both of these directions. Like others, the desire for popularity and the desire to be recognized as one who has accomplished much may tug us toward being lax toward some of God’s law’s. On the other hand, the firm desire to be “sound” may pull us toward making laws where God has not made them. Sometimes, this could result in our trying to “force” a brother to do things with which his conscience does not agree.

Just be careful that you do not follow either of these paths. We must always remember that as a preacher, I may not do that which violates my conscience.