Our Conscience Knows

 

We live in a fallen world

where we have all been infected by sin,

and one of the results is that our conscience

gets distorted too.

 

Our conscience can be desensitized if we fail to listen to it,

even to the extent that we become morally blind,

stumbling around in moral darkness as John

puts it (1 John 2:11).

 

 

 Oswald Chambers in "My Utmost For His Highest" said, "Conscience is that

ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then

continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. It is the eye

of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the

highest standard. This explains why conscience is different in different people.

If I am in the habit of continually holding God's standard in front of me, my

conscience will always direct me to God's perfect law and indicate what I

should do. The question is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my

conscience so sensitive that I can live without any offense toward anyone. I

should be living in such perfect harmony with God's Son that the spirit of my

mind is being renewed through every circumstance of life, and that I may be

able to quickly prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of

God.'"

The conscience is an awareness that we ought to conform to.

Because we do have consciences, however, and because we really are

accountable to God, it means that guilt is something very real.

 An evil conscience is one that is so defiled,

so corrupt, it turns our values upside down,

confusing and blurring the distinction between right and wrong,

moral and immoral.

This is reflected in Isaiah 5:20.

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;

that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

 

Our truest guidance in the conduct of our life

comes from our own conscience

and we profit spiritually by becoming more able to notice

and act on its promptings.

 

New understanding comes from within,

not from without.

 

 What is our conscience, according to the Word of God?

The Bible has much to say about our conscience. The Bible talks about a

"good conscience", and a "clear conscience",

but it also talks about a "weak conscience",

a "seared" conscience, a "corrupted" conscience

and "an evil conscience".

 

We are in trouble when personal sin no longer bothers us. I Timothy 4:2 says,

"Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron."

A seared conscience is one that is cut off, silenced, that is beyond feeling.

God has given every human general revelation:

Everyone knows right from wrong and that He exists.

Romans 1:18-25 

 

Something within the heart of every person approves when we do right and

accuses when we do wrong, and that something is "conscience".

If we insist on pushing past the limits our conscience gives us,

we will lose our ability to distinguish between right and wrong

Romans 1:26-28

The Bible calls this condition a seared conscience.

 

God as our Creator, has created us as moral beings. As such, God has

equipped every human being with a "built in" moral conscience. 

Titus 1:15 says, "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are

defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is

defiled." Every person has a conscience, which is a monitor, distinguishing

between right and wrong.

 

 

 

The word "defiled" means to be corrupted or polluted. Our conscience is like

a window. When it is clean, more light can enter into our hearts and lives.

Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 6:22-23. "The light of the body is the eye: if

therefore thine eye be single (whole, healthy), thy whole body shall be full of

light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If

therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, it is great darkness!"

 

Our conscience can be weakened, dulled, and dimmed by the sin that we

tolerate in our lives. When we sin, refusing to acknowledge it as such, it soils

or defiles our conscience. If we understand what it is and how it functions, it

can change our lives. 

 

 Every child of God has a duty, a responsibility, to constantly shape, monitor,

and maintain his or her conscience. The shaping or forming of our conscience

simply means educating and training it. We do this by learning and taking to

heart the objective moral law, as found in Scripture. This shapes, forms,

saturates our conscience in objective moral truth.

 

There is no word for "conscience" in the Old Testament Hebrew, but it is

illustrated often.

 Joseph's brothers certainly felt the sting of their conscience, when they first

came to Egypt to purchase corn.While Joseph's identity was concealed, he

tested his  brothers, accusing them of being spies and casting them into prison.

We read their response in Genesis 42:21. Then they said to one another,

“In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of

his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has

come upon us.”

Joseph was not pointing a finger at his brothers, reminding them of their past

cruelty. They didn't even know they were in the presence of their brother.

Joseph wasn't dead, he was alive, and so was their conscience.  

The function of a conscience is to warn us, indite us, convict us. Those

brothers of Joseph did not have a blameless conscience.

They were filled with guilt.

 

The root of the Greek word translated as "conscience,"

means to be aware.

The Greek speaking people in the New Testament days used this word in their

everyday conversation. It basically described the pain that we feel when we

do wrong.  

When tempted to do the wrong thing, are we listening to

our conscience or do we just ignore it and keep going?  

 

Basically the conscience monitors one's

thoughts, motives, actions and

general manner of life.

 

Our "judgment"

must be properly educated in

God's Word, then the conscience will

approve what God approves and condemn

what God condemns.

 

 

We cannot escape our conscience.

We can argue with it, we can defile it, we can harden it, but we can never get

rid of it. According to the Scriptures, "A good conscience, desires to conduct

itself honorably in all things."


 

Conscience is our inner sense

urging us to prefer right over wrong.

It urges us to do that which we

recognize to be right and restrains us

from doing that which we recognize

to be wrong.

 

Conscience reveals and illumines.

It is the intellect that distinguishes

right from wrong.

 

It discerns what is right and wrong. 

 

Conscience does not cater to our egocentric view of the world.

The overbearing voice of our ego drowns out the voice of conscience...

leaving our perception of conscience murky and uncertain.

Then we begin to question ourselves...

'Is that conscience speaking to me, or is it my ego?'

 

 

Remorse, though painful,

is not paralyzing.

Rather it spurs us to improve,

to not repeat the same mistake,

and, if possible,

to repair or make amends

for our wrong acts.

Remorse teaches us how to

discriminate between the voice of ego

and the voice of conscience. 

 

Wisdom-based conscience can serve as

a reliable moral compass

in any situation.

 

We find a way to gradually develop an intuitive sensitivity

to our inner perception of rightness.

 

Conscience can be an inhibiting sense of what is practical.

It is awareness, intuition, and/or good judgment that can address our

questions.

 Conscience, if we can accept its promptings, will guide us through.

Living in conscience is like inviting God to see everything we do,

inwardly as well as outwardly. 

 

Spiritual practice quiets our mind, pacifies our heart,

and supports the emergence of conscience out of the noise.

Conscience sees.

It sees our own behavior, inner and outer,

from an objective point of view.

 

When our thoughts, feelings, or actions

fall into the unseemly,

conscience sees the truth and causes us embarrassment

at having been seen,

at having caught ourselves

in manifestations we would rather keep hidden,

even from ourselves.

 

It is not only a matter of quieting our mind

to hear the still, small voice of conscience.

It may not even come as a voice or in words.

It is more likely to be a feeling or a direct perception of the rightness

or wrongness of a proposed future action, or of a past action.  

 

If we can open to this seeing of our ego-based behavior,

conscience becomes our hope and lifeline to purification and freedom.

This is how God speaks to us,

by seeing us as we are,

and showing us the way toward cleaning up our inner world.

 

Conscience is the process of listening

to our innermost intuition of rightness...

the voice of truth within us.

This openness to conscience also requires a

readiness to follow its promptings.

 

 Our truest guidance in the conduct of our life

comes from our own conscience

and we profit spiritually by becoming more able to notice

and act on its promptings.

Conscience is ultimately the voice of God within us.

 

The reason then it is wrong to disregard the conscience is because

it is designed to lead us to review our "judgment";

but it is our "judgment" (our concept of what is right or wrong)

which determines whether the conscience

approves or condemns us.

What can we do to keep our conscience good,

clean, pure, and functioning?

 

We must determine to make the written Word of God

our constant guide and standard for our living.

 

This is the changeless standard to which we must hold our conscience.

It's been said, "Conscience is a trustworthy compass when God's Word is

your north." We must keep filling our minds with the Word of God each day,

so that God's commandments are in our hearts and constantly on our minds.

 

While every human being is gifted with a conscience, only believers are gifted

or indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our conscience can be corrupted. God's Holy

Spirit cannot be corrupted. He remains as a holy, sinless presence and

influence in our hearts and lives.

 

The Holy Spirit helps us interpret the message sent by our conscience. The

Holy Spirit always brings the Holy Scriptures to our minds. To re-sharpen our

conscience, God has given us His written Word, the Bible, and the Holy

Spirit, to coach and guide us according to the Word.

 

We can cleanse our conscience. How?

By purging our conscience from dead works. When our conscience is

cleansed, we are able to live according to the ways shown by the Word of God

with the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

Whether we realize it or not, we program our conscience

every day. How?

Our parents or home of origin programs our conscience. Our choice of friends

programs our conscience. Our culture including electronic media such as

movies, television, music, programs our conscience.

The Word of God

programs our conscience.

 

It is only when we bring our thoughts, actions and manner of life

into harmony with the teaching of the Scriptures

that we are  right; and when we do what we believe to be right,

our conscience will perform its proper function, and support our actions.

 

Our conscience is like a judge and jury, presiding in the

courtroom of our hearts.

 A good conscience is working as intended by God.

It is the voice of God in the soul.

 

A good conscience is pushing us and pointing us in the right direction,

keeping us on course.

A mother asked her son if he knew the difference between "conscious" and

"conscience." He said, "Sure, Mom. Conscious is when you're aware of

something. Conscience is when you wish you weren't."  

 

A weak conscience is one that can easily be swayed or influenced by others.

It lacks knowledge.  

 

We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a

God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on

God's grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted

ourselves before the world, and especially toward you.

2 Corinthians 1:12

 

When we perceive our conscience telling us what to do or what not to do,

we ought to choose to act accordingly.

When we bring our judgment into line with what the Bible teaches...

our conscience will function as God designed it to function. 

 

A clear conscience is a wonderful thing in the day of accusation. It liberates us

from fear and instills courage. Proverbs 28:1 says,

"The wicked man flees though no one pursues,

but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

 

Throughout his administration, Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire,

especially during the scarring years of the Civil War. Though he knew he

would make errors in office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity.

His resolve was so strong, that he once said, "I desire so to conduct the affairs

of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of

power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend

left, and that friend shall be down inside of me."

 

A clear conscience gives room for an abiding peace. We can remain calm and

confident when events are swirling around us.  

 Our conscience is a gift from God that is not to be taken lightly.

A good, godly, sensitive, healthy conscience leads to a good, godly sensitive,

healthy life before the world!

 

II Corinthians 1:12 says, this is the testimony of our conscience.

"We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that in simplicity and

godly sincerity, we have depended on God's grace... not our own fleshly

human wisdom. This is how we have conducted ourselves before the world,

and especially toward You."


Our conscience is nothing less than our truest self,

our own deeper will, and our connection to God.

The more we follow our own unique conscience,

the more intimately and fully we become ourselves.

 

May we thank God for our conscience!

May we embrace a conscience that is clean and without regret. 

May we make the most of this God given gift!

Instead of letting our conscience be our guide,

Let's make sure our conscience is led by God!

 


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