Summary: Conscience is a gift of God to keep us morally safe, at peace, and connected to Him.
Function: The listener will pay heightened attention to conscience, confessing where needed.
You may know the feeling. You tell your parents you’re going one place, when really you’re going to another. You take cash to avoid taxes. You spread a story about someone. You break a promise to spend time with your child.
At the moment you’re thinking about it a yellow warning light flashes in your brain. Something tilts out of balance inside. If you do the right thing, the light turns green. If you head toward the wrong thing, it turns red. If you choose to go through the red light, it sends the message, "You fool, you idiot. You crossed the line. You better fix it. Don’t do that again!"
That’s called conscience. It’s not the same for everyone. One guy can lose sleep over calling someone a fool. The next guy can murder and still sleep soundly.
How healthy is your conscience? Do you pay attention to it? Is it possible to have a clear conscience? One saying goes, "A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory."
There are basically three kinds of events that are CONSCIENCE TRIGGERS. The first is a green light event. It’s one of satisfaction: where I’ve done right and I know it:. That’s a real pleasant experience, even if it’s costly. It’s plain enjoyable inside to do the right thing.
Conscience also gets triggered by False Guilt: Not wrong but I think it is. Your conscience can get distorted by well-meaning people. They blacklist things the Bible doesn’t -- sports on Sunday used to be a big issue. Some people might condemn you for wearing pants (a woman that is), for eating certain foods, or even celebrating a birthday.
Manipulative people delight to send you on a guilt trip and you have to watch out for that. You need to be sure of your convictions and what the Bible really says.
Of course there’s Real Guilt: Wrong and I know it. If you lie, steal, cheat on your spouse, or hurt someone, your conscience will jab you -- at least in the beginnning. The worse your crime is, the worse you will feel. Lord Byron said, "No ear can hear nor tongue can tell the tortures of the inward hell!" This is where we’ll concentrate, but one other area bears mentioning.
This one fails to trigger the conscience: Blind Guilt: Wrong but I don’t know it. Your conscience may not say anything until you discover what you’ve done is wrong. Paul says in 1 Cor 4:4, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me."
The reality is, your conscience might have become useless because you’ve abused it or ignored it. Titus 1:15, "Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled."
Obviously, if you see yourself as responsible, you don’t want to trash your conscience. That could set you up for all kinds of trouble. Conscience is one of those areas that sets you apart from animals. If you’ve ever seen a cat torture a mouse, you’ll know what I mean. They have no conscience.