Our consciences are like snowflakes, there are no two that are identical. While we may have many of the same moral ideals, there will be some areas in which we all will differ. We will notice these differences very quickly and long before we appreciate what areas overlap in agreement.
We must remember that our conscience is prone to error and on its own is not sufficient to unerringly guide us. While all of our consciences are different, all consciences fail to meet God’s standards. Therefore, while we may be fully persuaded in our mind of the correctness of our understanding of third level issues we must hold them loosely and be willing to allow them to be corrected by the Word of God. Our main problem is that our culture shapes our conscience more than the Scriptures. This is further problematic due to our inability to adequately distinguish between which of our convictions are cultural and which are biblical.
One example of this is divorce. The Scriptures explicitly condemn divorce. Yet, living in a culture where divorce is accepted and even promoted in certain cases, our consciences lean toward cultural convictions instead of biblical convictions. So our consciences are subjective and therefore not an absolutely reliable guide. This is why we must hold third-level beliefs loosely and make sure they are submissive to the objective truth of the Bible.
One of the errors we can make is that we help people embrace cultural conversion rather than genuine conversion to God in Christ. We can wrongly lead others to conform to our cultural convictions instead of repentance from sin and faith in Christ as written in the Word. We want people committed to God, Christ, and the Word and not to our set of non-essential convictions. I feel we would rather see people agree with our conviction of eschatology instead of committing themselves to Christ.
This is why faithfulness to church and our own consistent Bible study is so important. We must constantly be subjecting our consciences to God’s standards and not the cultures. It is God who must and who will adjust the conscience. Our consciences are being sanctified by the Word of God through the power of God in the Spirit of God.
Again there are truths we MUST believe to be Christian, other things we must believe to be a unified church, and there are things we do not have to agree about and yet we can love one another and fellowship with one another until the Lord adjusts our consciences.