"Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked."1
Somebody pointed out that if we don't live the life we believe, we will end up unhappily believing the life we live.
Some time ago I visited the Moody Institute of Science and put on a special pair of lenses that made everything appear upside down. Talk about mental distress! In an experiment the founder of the Institute, Irwin Moon, wore these glasses every day and night for three weeks, and slept with his eyes covered so that he never looked at anything without wearing these lenses. After three weeks his mind converted everything so things appeared the right side up!
The mind does a similar thing when we live out of harmony with God's directives. For example, the alcoholic denies his alcoholism. The person who consistently lies, ends up believing his own lies. And criminals often justify what they have done by telling themselves that the people they victimized deserved it!
We do this because if we consistently go against what we know to be right, we get into what is called cognitive dissonance, which, simply put, means mental disharmony. And, not being able to live with this distress, we will change our beliefs to match our behavior. This way we justify whatever it is we want to do.
It's true, if we don't live the life we believe, we will end up unhappily believing the life we live. It's a dangerous course to follow. Another way of saying it is, we end up with a dead conscience and a hardened heart.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me never to deny any negative and/or sinful behavior, but be honest with myself and admit it when what I am doing is wrong, confess this to you—and to a safe person or counselor if necessary—so that I can always live in a state of mental harmony. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Timothy 1:19 (NLT).