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.
So WHY GUARD MY CONSCIENCE? Here are just a few reasons: 1 It’s my life-line for faith. This verse makes it real clear: 1 Tim 1:19, "Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked."
If you play fast and loose with your morality, one day you will wake up and say, "I don’t believe in God anymore. It’s all a bunch of hooey." The problem isn’t with God, it’s with a hardened conscience. You’ve turned off the connection with God.
2 It Keeps Me Safe. Conscience is like a fence around a deep hole. If you destroy the fence, you will fall into hole. It points out what is right, not necessarily what is easy.
Jesus was speaking about conscience when he said, Matthew 6:23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! You don’t want to lose your conscience. If you do it’s like going blind morally. That’s more dangerous than being blind physically.
You know what the worst part of this is? We’re attracted to holes. You come up to one and your conscience is yelling, "Hey buddy, there’s a hole right there. Go around." But the rebel part of you says, "I can do this." You fall in. It’s way better to keep the fence up.
3 It helps me relate to others. Paul says in Acts 24:16: "I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and everyone else." It’s great if your conscience alerts you before you say something dumb. Even if it pricks you afterward, at least you can go apologize. A good conscience means better relationships.