God, in his infinite wisdom, when he created man, placed within each and every one of us a conscience. We can think of our conscience as an internal governing tool concerning our thoughts and actions. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon says that our conscience is something that abides within us whose nature it is to bear witness to the subject regarding his/her own conduct in a moral sense. It is knowledge with one's self. Conscience is broken down between two parts- con (a knowing) with science (knowledge). It is to be one’s own witness in that its nature is to bear witness regarding our conduct in a moral sense. And in this internal witness our conscience either condemns us or approves us.
The question that came to my mind in thinking about this is “Are we bothered anymore with a guilty conscience or have we become callous to that internal witness?” We have seen and heard of people committing actions against others and yet feeling no remorse for what they have done. How is it that they disregard the witness of their conscience against their actions? Is it as 1 Timothy 4:2 describes “having their conscience seared with a hot iron” that they no longer are bothered with a guilty conscience? Is having no remorse due to what Romans 1:28 says “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge’ thereby producing no guilt? They seem to be as Ephesians 4:19 declares “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
I submit that we must work on keeping our conscience active and not only active but also controlled by the word of God so as to direct our path in the correct way. We must listen and give heed to that internal witness to our actions either approving or disapproving us. And our conscience must be filled and guided by the word of God for us to be righteous and holy. Titus 1:15 warns about not guarding our conscience “... but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” We realize that when our conscience is defiled then we no longer feel guilty about our actions and thoughts and we produce within ourselves a false witness so that we can give a seemly good answer to God and man void of offense. If we allow our conscience to be defiled then we can no longer be convicted by our own conscience. We read of a group of men in John 8:1-9 who when “they which heard it being convicted by their own conscience” felt remorse due to their guilt.
Paul was able to say in Romans 9:1 “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” This was something that Paul could rejoice in and that was the testimony or witness of his conscience. In 2 Corinthian 1:12 Paul wrote “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience…” We also need to strive so that the testimony or witness of our conscience is free from guilt. Our goal should be as Paul said in Acts 24:16 “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men.” Peter expressed it this way in 1 Peter 3:16 “Having a good conscience that whereas they speak evil of you as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” Then in verse 21 he states concerning baptism “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” This is what should be upmost in our mind and that is to have a good conscience toward God. As we stand in the presence of God our conscience should be free from all guilt. Our heart should not condemn us in the sight of God and if our conscience disapproves us then repentance is needed in our lives. We need to ever commit to God’s word so that our conscience is guided by the right source so that when Christ returns we can be found blameless and acceptable before Him.
- Larry Bumgardner