In his small but powerful book Your God is Too Small, J. B. Phillips addresses an all too common phenomenon–the confusing of our conscience with God. He writes:

There are many, even among professing Christians, who are made miserable by a morbidly developed conscience, which they quite wrongly consider to be the voice of God. Many a housewife overdrives herself to please some inner voice that demands perfection. The voice may be her own demands or the relics of childhood training, but it certainly is not likely to be the voice of the Power behind the Universe. (13)

Substitute ‘missionary’, ‘teacher’, ‘father’, ‘mother’, etc for “housewife” in the above paragraph and you have a pretty good description of the joyless life of many Christians trying to live out the faith in duty to their uneasy conscience mistakenly taken for the daily indictment of God.

And that’s not living by grace.