Bigger than our conscience


Hello, I am somewhat bothered by my very zealous protestant preacher brother who has not treated my mother in a way I would expect from him. When I tried to reason with him, he told me that his conscience is clear and he has not done anything wrong and he has done the best things in the Lord’s eyes. As I see it, he gets too preachy and demanding when he feels so certain of his own convictions; in the mean time he is not living out the mercy and self-denial Christ desires from his disciples.

The thing I can’t get across to him is that even when our conscience is clear, we can’t be a hundred percent sure that we are innocent before the Lord. We always have to be reverent not only to the Lord but also to others. But my brother believes that one should have no fear whatsoever in front of the Lord and that as long as he believes he is right, he should do what his conscience dictates. This is very protestant as at the time of reformation, Martin Luther himself said it’s neither safe nor wise to disobey his conscience.

How can I convey that our faith requires more than keeping a clear conscience? Is there anything in scripture that relates to this?

My brother and family are in China so they do not have a very strong influence from the Catholic Church. Please pray that they will all come home to the Catholic Church. From my conversation with him, I’ve learned that only the Catholic Church could prevent us from falling into error. If it’s just between the Bible and oneself, one can be misled in so many directions. But how, how, how can one be helped to see the need for church guidance?

Thank you so much for your help!


Some passages to show him:

Jeremiah 17:9- “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Everyone was doing as they thought best . . . their consciences were clean . . . what a golden age! What a perfect era! Read the chapters immediately surrounding this one to see just how golden this age of the conscience’s supremacy was. Though this one has some very nasty aspects all on its own, like all the idol worship.

My sister is convinced in her heart that abortion and homosexuality are fine. She says her instinct, her “gut”, her heart, tell her this, and she therefore believes it. Your Protestant friend doesn’t sound like the kind that would agree with these views. The heart can be terribly misled, as the Scripture says, yet the people that are deceived believe they are doing the right thing.


My dear friend

Jesus said I desire mercy , not sacrifice. We are supposed to love our neighbour in the same way Jesus loved us, which means we should be willing to die for our neighbour. Charity is the only important thing in life we’re told. Judge not lest ye be juded- this means we are to condemn noone as guilty of sin. If their not guilty of sin in our eyes because only God an judge then what right do we have to condemn anybody. If we judge, are uncharitable and lack mercy in our dealings with others then we’re told to take the log out of our own eye then we’ll see clearly to take out the speck that is in our brothers. We have an obligation to instruct and form our conscience beause our conscience can and often does make mistakes. And noting that our conscience can be mistaken we should remember the path to hell is paved with good intentions. When we look at Jesus did He go off at people who were acting in good consiene as they believed it - No. He rebuked those who were not acting in good consciene such as hyporites etc and He can do this because He knows everything in our hearts and minds - we don’t know what’s in other peoples hearts and minds so we are forbidden to judge ( condemn ) others. We are commanded to love one another as Jesus loved us.

Hope this helps

God bless you:thumbsup::slight_smile:



Try this one.

St Paul says “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Cor 4:3-4)

St Paul is saying there may be things we are not aware of.


I love this one! Thanks for giving me the reference. My brother knows the Bible like the back of his hand. Because he is a preacher, perhaps he feels he is obligated to teach and instruct, even when it is unnecessary or not in the best interest of the recipient. He believes that people should be able to say whatever is in their mind and heart as long as they say it with honesty and good intention. But he has hurt our mother tremendously by doing just that.

Honestly I do not see how he could change his mindset unless he comes to accept the necessity of a Mother Church who teaches and guides him. That will take a miracle. But the Lord is good at miracles, so I can only pray.

Thank you all!


This is what I try to tell my brother. But he kept telling me unless my mother understands some things, she wouldn’t be able to walk out of her past. So I tell him, no, it’s not your job to make her understand things; it’s the Lord’s; your job is to be merciful to her. I guess he just doesn’t know how to help a person except by telling them how they should improve themselves.

There is no doubt he loves our mother. But he has no idea how much he has hurt her.


Maybe this will be helpful.


“In his early days, Saint Bernard was very severe and harsh towards those whom he directed, telling them, to begin with, that they must put aside the body, and come to him with their minds only. In confession, he treated all faults, 132 however small, with extreme severity, and his poor apprentices in the study of perfection were so urged onwards, that by dint of pressing he kept them back, for they lost heart and breath when they found themselves thus driven up so steep and high an ascent. Therein, my daughter, you can see that, although it was his ardent zeal for the most perfect purity which led that great Saint so to act, and although such zeal is a great virtue, still it was a virtue which required checking. And so God Himself checked it in a vision, by which He filled S. Bernard with so gentle, tender, and loving a spirit, that he was altogether changed, blaming himself heavily for having been so strict and so severe, and becoming so kindly and indulgent, that he made himself all things to all men in order to win all.”

I suggest you read the whole chapter.


My dear friend

Maybe tell Him to preach the gospel by his example and not his words. Most people are big on talk but lack holiness. The most powerful preaching is example. Jesus often criticised people for not giving a good example and people listened to the prophets and Jesus because their preaching was backed up by an exemplary life. Words are shallow and meaningless tell him, show us Christ instead of givin lip service. Maybe this will help.

God bless you:thumbsup::slight_smile:



That was very beneficial reading! Too bad my brother doesn’t know English. I pray someday God will give such a light to my brother, too, even though he doesn’t allow himself access to spiritual wisdom of our Catholic Saints.


I love the confession part at the beginning of every EWTN mass: “I confess, I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do; and I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.” I love this part because it testifies that we are indeed sinners; and if we say to the Lord we have done everything right, we are lying to ourselves.

Do you know anything in scripture that calls us to confess like that? Thanks for your help.


James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.


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