Conscience is the in−built power of our minds to pass moral judgments on ourselves, approving or disapproving our attitudes, actions, reactions, thoughts, and plans, and telling us, if it disapproves of what we have done, that we ought to suffer for it. Conscience has in it two elements, (a) an awareness of certain things as being right and wrong, and (b) an ability to apply laws and rules to specific situations. Conscience, as distinct as it is from our other powers of mind, is unique; it feels like a person is detached from us, often speaking when we would like it to be silent and saying things that we would rather not hear. We can decide whether to heed conscience, but we cannot decide whether or not it will speak; our experience is that it decides that for itself. Because of its insistence of judging us by the highest standard we know, we call it God’s voice in the soul, and to that extent so it is. The NIV rightly renders the Hebrew “David’s heart hit him” as “David was conscience-stricken” in 1 Sam. 24:5, and other examples.) But conscience may be misinformed, or conditioned to regard evil as good, or seared and dulled by repeated sin (1 Tim. 4:2), and in such cases conscience will be less active than God’s voice. The particular judgments of conscience are to be received as God’s voice only when they match with God’s own truth and laws in the Scripture. Consciences must therefore be educated to judge scripturally.The consciences of individuals are likely to reflect family and community standards, or lack of them. The book of Judges tells grisly stories of things done at a time when “everyone did as they seemed fit” (17:6; 21:25).Superstition or scruple may lead a person to view sinful actions as if God’s Word declares it not sinful; but for such a “weak” conscience (Rom. 14:1-2; 1 Cor. 8:7, 12) to do what it thinks sinful would be sin (Rom. 14:23), and therefore “weak” persons should never be pressed to do what they cannot conscientiously do.The New Testament ideal of a conscience is that is “good” and “clean” (because righteousness is one’s purpose, and sin is being avoided: Acts 24:16; 1 Tim. 1:5, 19; Heb. 13:18; 1 Pet. 3:16). But for this our conscience must first be “cleansed” by the blood of Christ; we must see that because Christ in his sacrificial death endured the suffering due to us, all our wrongdoings, they no longer constitute a barrier to our communion with God (Heb. 9:14). Both the English word “conscience” and the Greek word translated as “conscience” in the New Testament literally mean “to be with knowledge.” In the Old Testament, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God in shame because their consciences told them they had been disobedient (Genesis 3:8-10). All human beings have the power of moral judgment: “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts” (Proverbs 20:27, RSV). Conscience, then, is a gift of God to provide light on matters of good and evil. In the New Testament, the word “conscience” is found 32 times in the King James Version of the New Testament, especially in the writings of the apostle Paul. Conscience, in Paul’s writings, passes judgment not only on things done but also on things that will be done in the future. The behavior of people who are without God’s law shows that the law is “written on their hearts” (Romans 2:14-15). Paul’s statement that every person should “be subject to the higher authorities” to avoid God’s judgment and “for the sake of conscience” assumes that the conscience tells us that obedience is a moral requirement (13:5).The conscience’s ability to pronounce someone “not guilty” is just as important: Paul said, “I am not aware [using the same root word from which ‘conscience’ is derived] of anything against myself” (1 Corinthians 4:4, RSV). Yet conscience is not an all-sufficient guide-Paul went on to say, “I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” In another passage, Paul called on his conscience to verify his truthfulness, linking the conscience with the Holy Spirit (Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 1:12).Paul asked the Corinthians to judge his behavior in the light of their consciences (2 Corinthians 4:1-2), Insisting that God knew the motivation behind his conduct, he hoped that the Corinthians’ consciences would also see it (5:11). When Paul wrote to Timothy, he linked a good conscience with sincere faith (1Timothy 1:5); when people leave the faith, their consciences can become “seared” or insensitive by their continued evil (4:2).
For Prayer and Counselling Contact:
Pastor J. O. Afolayan
C. A. C. Divine Reward Ikeja
Tel: 08034945702, 08026161601