Summary: A biblical analysis of the conscience which will demonstrate that the conscience is the key to living a Christ honouring life.
The Forgotten conscience.
The conscience is a topic you don’t hear much about these days. It’s becoming a lost asset in our culture. The conscience is what makes the difference between doing the right thing and the wrong thing. It’s what makes the difference between being exposed to danger and avoiding danger. It’s what makes the difference between finishing well and not finishing. It’s what makes the difference between preserving your integrity and experiencing moral failure. It’s what makes the difference between being a faithful follower of Christ and dishonouring Christ. It’s what makes the difference between making wise decisions and experiencing a moral blowout
We use the word “conscience” a fair bit in everyday conversation. We talk about having a good conscience, and a clear conscience. We talk about having a guilty conscience. Guilt is one of the functions of the conscience. In John 8: 9, in the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus says, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest.” The eldest had the heaviest guilt because their consciences had accumulated the most guilt.
You may have heard about the fella that sent money to the income tax people with a note that said, ”I am sending you some money that I owe for back taxes because my conscience is bothering me.” “P.S. If my conscience continues to bother me, I’ll send the rest.”
So let’s talk about the conscience. First, let’s consider
The purpose of your conscience
Your conscience is what enables you to live a life of godly conduct. .
2 Corinthians 1:12, reads, “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God we have conducted ourselves in the world and especially toward you.”
Similarly, 1 Timothy 1:19, says, “Keeping faith and a good conscience.”
And in 2 Timothy 1:3, at the end of Paul’s life, (he’ll be executed a few days after he writes this),. he says, “I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience.” Now that’s a godly man. There’s a man who never shed tears of regret at a funeral. He had a clear conscience.
The purpose of the conscience is to produce a life of godly conduct. Your conscience is your navigational GPS which steers u through the swamp of the cultural moral minefield, and keeps you off the mines, and ensures that you’ll live a life of godly conduct.
Now let’s talk about
The value of your conscience
Your conscience is so important that you need to be careful never to damage anybody else’s conscience. In the city of Corinth, they were selling discounted meat that had been offered to idols. Some Christians took advantage of the firesale prices. Other Christians thought it was wrong to buy or eat the meat, and this was causing a problem in the church. Some Christians were being invited to an unbelievers house for dinner and they would serve this idol meat. Some Christians saw nothing wrong with it and enjoyed it. But other Christians were invited to the same house, and sat at the same table, and were offended by the same idol meat. Then they would look at their fellow Christians and when the host would go out to the kitchen, they would whisper, “Psssstt. this is idol meat.” So the Christian who likes the idol meat has a dilemma. Does he do ahead and eat the meat and offend his brother’s conscience? Or does he support his Christian brother and not eat the meat, and run the risk of offending the unbeliever. Well, let’s read it and see what the scripture says..
1 Corinthians 10: 27 “If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, (that means if a believer, a fellow guest, says to you), “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his.”
Don’t violate the conscience of another believer because the conscience is valuable and needs to be protected.
Now let’s talk about
The necessity of the conscience
Some people think you don’t need a conscience. We just need accountability. Accountability is the big word these days. In fact, accountability seems to have replaced the conscience. You get in a group, and you hold each other accountable. For example, let’s say you all want to become more honest. So you meet and ask each other, “Have you been honest this week.” And you hold each other accountable. Here’s the problem with accountability.. You can lie about honesty. Like the actor who said, “The key to being a great actor is authenticity. If you can fake that you got it made.”