Summary: This sermon speaks on the different type of conscious, sins of the mind, and finally how we can have a clear conscience before God and man.
We live in a world with people having different beliefs and value systems. What is wrong according to my values maybe be right to another. How do I know right and wrong? Our conscience acts like a grid system that sends a stop signal when something wrong hits it. Can you trust your conscience to give you the correct warning regarding wright and wrong?
Illustration: In 1984, Avianca Airlines, Spanish airline 707, had a crash, hit a mountain. They went into the rubble, everybody died, the plane is all over the place. Finally, they found little black box which has the cockpit recorder on it so they can get the dialogue that’s going on in the cockpit just before the crash so they can reconstruct what happened.
They get the tape out of the little black box and found a frightening discovery when they listened to the tape. The cockpit recorder indicates that just before the crash, a computer synthesized voice from the plane’s automatic warning system starts saying, “Pull up, pull up, pull up, pull up, pull up,” in English. Inexplicably the pilot shouts back, “Shut up, foreigner,” flips off the switch. Within seconds, the plane hits the mountain and everybody is dead.
What a parable of the way conscience is intended to work and how dangerous it is not to listen to it. Conscience isn’t a body of information, conscience is simply a warning device. It’s just a shrill computer voice that says, “Pull up, pull up, pull up, pull up, hold it, stop, don’t do that, stop that, you’re headed for a crash, stop here,” that’s what conscience does.
Conscience is a human faculty. It’s not divine. It’s like pain. Pain is not a divine faculty, it’s human. Everybody’s got it. Is pain a good thing or a bad thing? Pain is a wonderful thing because it warns you you’ve got a physical problem, and if you didn’t have pain you wouldn’t know you had a problem and you’d die. What conscience does is tell you something is wrong in your spiritual life. That’s a parallel.
The Bible mentions 4 different types of consciences.
1. A seared conscience. 1 Timothy 4:2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have ben seared as with a hot iron.
2. A weak conscience. 1 Corinthians 8:12 When you sin against them this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
3. A corrupted conscience. Titus 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.
4. A good conscience. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 18Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
In those days, ships were the deal. If he was living today and writing, he would say they made air crash of your faith. If you don’t resist, you’re going to crash and burn
How to have a clear conscience?
1. Feed on God’s word.
Give accurate information to your conscience.
Illustration: Our conscience functions like a skylight. The skylight doesn’t have any light. It just lets light in. Conscience is a skylight, it doesn’t generate its own light. It can only let you…it can only shine on you what’s in that belief system. Feed your system with God’s word.
Back to the illustration of the plan crash, the flight had a fully informed little voice and the little voice said, “Pull up, pull up,” because it was properly informed. The pilot was foolish, “Shut up, foreigner,” means, “I don’t care what the little voice says, and I don’t care how well informed it is, I’m going to ignore it.” You don’t want your conscience to be wrongly informed, or it isn’t going to have the capability to tell you the right things.
Romans 2:15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. Now what does it mean? Based on your information, you conscience accuses or excuses.
Illustration: Martin Luther who brought the protestant reformation out of the Catholic church questioned the doctrine and practices of the Catholic church in a thesis called ‘The Ninety-Five Theses’ in October of 1517. The Roman Catholic church wanted Martin Luther to recant his view. The Diet of Worms of 1521 was an imperial assembly meeting of the Holy Roman Empire. It was convened to determine how authorities (both political and religious) should respond to Martin Luther’s teachings. The diet was held in Worms, Germany. Martin Luther had to appear before the Emperor twice; each time he was told to take back his teachings. Luther didn’t see any proof against his thesis or views which would move him to recant. Martin Luther said, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” Martin Luther’s conscience was captive to the Word of God. After negotiations with Martin Luther and failed attempts to recant his view, the pope excommunicated Martin Luther in 1521.