Author: Ron Graham
The Influence of Conscience
—Good conscience refuses evil, chooses good
The second influence that motivates us to obey God is conscience. The conscience is that faculty of human nature which "knows to refuse evil and choose good" (Isaiah 7:15-16).
The boy spoken of in the passage above has the same human nature as all human beings, and what is true of him is true of us all. You will notice that it would take some time for this boy to grow from a new born baby to a boy able to know right from wrong. However a time would come when his conscience had learned enough to know the difference, and to make choices accordingly.
Conscience imparts to the human being a sense of "ought" —which we sometimes jokingly refer to as the little man on your shoulder who whispers in your ear. It is really a part of your inner self, influencing you to obey God and to refuse evil.
1 Conscience Helps You to Obey God
- Conscience leads us to baptism "the answer of a good conscience toward God"(1Peter 3:21)
- Conscience is then cleansed by the blood of Christ. We have our "hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:22). Guilt goes.
- Conscience supports faith We continue "keeping the faith and a good conscience" (1Timothy 1:19).
- Our faith and obedience toward God are encouraged by the constant influence of a conscience well instructed by God
2 Conscience Can Fail
Conscience is not the final judge. "I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted, but the one who examines me is the Lord" (1Corinthians 4:4).
For example, there will be people on judgment day who will find their consciences have failed (Matthew 7:21-23).
Here is a list of some things that can go wrong. But be aware that these things only happen when the owner of the conscience willingly allows them to...
- Conscience can be misguided, as with Paul (Acts 26:9).
- Conscience can be defiled (1Corinthians 8:7, Titus 1:15-16).
- Conscience can be seared —it can become insensitive (1Timothy 4:1-2).
- Conscience may be morbid as with Judas who hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).
- Conscience can be made ineffective, and when people do that to their conscience by persistent rebellion, "it is impossible to renew them to repentance" (Hebrews 6:4-6)
So we should seek the fruits of the Spirit and "walk by the Spirit" rather than following the passions and desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26).
3 Seeking a Good Conscience
- The conscience needs educating to "understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17).
- The conscience is a 'muscle' needing good food and exercise. "For everyone who partakes of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14).
Conscience, properly educated and exercised, is an excellent influence on us.