Summary: God has given every one a conscience, but it can only be reliable when it is submitted to the rule and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our conscience is like a clock which only work correctly if it has been previously set correctly.
Study Text: 1 Timothy 1: 18 - 20
- When you're tempted to do the wrong thing, do you listen to your conscience or do you just ignore it and keep going?
- How can people commit horrible crimes if they have a conscience? What is our conscience, according to the Word of God?
A. God has given every human a conscience.
- Let us consider some Biblical examples:
1. Adam and Eve knew they had sinned (Gen. 3:7-8).
2. David's conscience bothered him after he disrespected Saul (1 Sam. 24:5).
3. Joseph's brothers felt bad after they mistreated him.
- God has given every human general revelation: everyone knows right from wrong and that He exists (Rom. 1:18-25).
- If we insist on pushing past the limits our conscience gives us, we will lose our ability to distinguish between right and wrong (Rom. 1:26-28). The Bible calls this condition a seared conscience.
- God sets limits on human sin because He loves His creation.
- God has written His law on the hearts of even those who don't know His official law (Rom. 2:14-15).
B. What's the difference between the Holy Spirit and the conscience?
1. Every person has a conscience, which is a monitor, distinguishing between right and wrong.
2. The Holy Spirit only inhabits believers.
3. The Holy Spirit helps us interpret the signals the conscience sends us.
4. The Holy Spirit reminds us of Scriptural principles.
5. The Holy Spirit draws us away from things that don't fit who we are as believers.
- The clear-conscience test: When you lay down at night, ask God to show you what He sees in your life. If He doesn't bring any sin to mind, you have a clear conscience.
C. How is the conscience programmed?
1. By what we are taught by our parents and what we see them do.
2. By the world around us—such as the people we have to do, television, and other media.
3. Through the teachings and messages you listen to in the church.
4. By reading and meditating on the Word of God.
- How does ignoring your conscience affect you?
- It will hinder your prayers.
- It will keep you from receiving God's best for your life, which includes your salvation.
- What do these things have in common: lusting after someone, telling a lie, gossiping about a friend, and procrastination?
- Your conscience should bother you when you engage in any of them.
- Your conscience is your moral capacity that enables you to distinguish between what's right and what's wrong.
D. The words associated with the conscience in Scripture:
1. A Good Conscience (Acts 23:1)
- Although Paul had once been a murderer, God had cleansed his conscience (1 Tim. 1:12-13).
2. A Blameless Conscience (Acts 24:14-16)
3. A Clear Conscience (2 Timothy 1:1-3)
- Someone with a clear conscience doesn't compromise his or her convictions.
- People muffle their consciences through drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy behavior.
4. A Weak Conscience (1 Cor. 8:4-12)
- If you and I participate in things that cause others to sin, we're accountable to God.
- You can ask yourself the question, If I participate in that, will that hurt my testimony?