One of my absolute favorite Disney animated films is Pinocchio. You probably know the story. An old wood-carver named Geppetto, who has no children, carves a wooden puppet that he names Pinocchio. That night, in response to Geppetto’s wish upon a star, the Blue Fairy appears and brings Pinocchio to life. She then promises Pinocchio that he can become a real boy if he proves himself brave, true, and unselfish, and she appoints a cricket named Jiminy to be Pinocchio’s conscience since, as a wooden puppet, he doesn’t have one of his own. In the song, “Give a Little Whistle,” Jiminy Cricket tells Pinocchio that whenever he finds himself in a spot where he doesn’t know right from wrong, all he needs to do is whistle and let his “conscience” be his guide. Of course, Pinocchio doesn’t listen to his “conscience” and throughout the story ends up in one predicament after another.
We all have times in our lives when we need to make decisions, to choose the right actions versus the wrong actions. For a believer, those decisions are particularly important as we strive to live righteously, to become more like Christ. When faced with the need to differentiate between right and wrong, we can use human reason. Now, when it comes to the affairs of our everyday life – what to eat, what to wear – there is nothing wrong with using our human reason. But we all make mistakes, so human reason is not the best authority in determining right from wrong.
When choosing between right and wrong, we can also turn to our human conscience. The conscience is an internal voice that basically is our right and wrong indicator. It weighs the situation and steers us one way or the other. The problem is that, because of sin, our conscience has been damaged. We can’t rely on it to steer us in the right direction. We can’t rely on it to make the correct choice between right and wrong. Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” The Hebrew word translated as heart refers to a person’s inner life. That includes the will, thoughts, motivations, feelings, and, yes, the conscience. Our conscience is not the best authority in determining right from wrong.
So, where should we turn when we need to make decisions, to determine right from wrong? We should turn to Scripture, to God’s Word, the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that Scripture is inspired by God. It is useful for teaching us the truth, what is right, and to show us what is wrong and correct us when we are leaning toward what is wrong. And this is true, not just of some Scripture but ALL of it. When it comes to matters of faith and conduct, the Bible should be our ultimate authority in life. Through the Scriptures, God has revealed to us all that we need to believe. And, how we live our lives, the standards that we follow as we strive to live righteously, must be dictated by the Scriptures.
Unlike human reason or human conscience, God’s Word is infallible, which means it is incapable of error. And God’s Word is inerrant, which means it does not contain any error. God’s Word is infallible and inerrant because God Himself is perfect. And so, to paraphrase Jiminy Cricket, as we go through life and need to determine right from wrong, we must always let the Bible be our guide.