Maintaining a Good Conscience

The Answer of a Good Conscience

Robert Wurtz II

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (1 Timothy 1:5)

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21).

The CONSCIENCE is that unaffiliated member of our being that God has placed within us to speak on His behalf. It measures our behavior and attitude against what we believe to be right and wrong, absolutely. It judges exactly as it sees without any prejudice. Whatever we sincerely believe is true will be the standard the conscience applies.

The conscience is the mechanism of moral judgment that men and women pass on the morality of his/her own actions. It also passes judgment on the purity of our motives. It is the secret testimony of the soul, whereby it approves things that are good, and condemns those that are evil without partiality. Ideally, the will of God is the only rule that should immediately bind the conscience. People can sear their conscience, but they cannot make it call evil good and good evil; nor can they calm it down when it has risen to pass judgment on our behavior and/or attitude.

The Guilty Conscience

The guilty conscience is one that believes the person has acted in disharmony with what the person believes is right or wrong. A guilty conscience is a primary obstacle to people coming to the throne of grace or to do His service (Hebrews 9:9). It shouts guilty! Which tends to cause man to want to run or hide from God. This is what Adam and Eve experienced when God came looking for them. In this way man cannot act contrary to what they believe is God’s will without suffering the pain of conscience. A guilty conscience can seize a person like a claw upon the mind. Many criminals have confessed under duress from their conscience.

The Purging of the Conscience

God designed the conscience within human beings to silence the sense of alarm when the right condition is met. For example, the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sins- nor did that blood have the power to purge the conscience of its sense of guilt. For ages, people have felt “vexed” when they have done wrong and have struggled to find relief. However, we read in Hebrews 9:14, How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God, and again, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22). When the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to us by the Holy Spirit, the conditions are met to silence the sense of alarm coming from within the conscience.

The Evil Conscience

Of an evil conscience there are several kinds. When our conscience has lost its sense of right and wrong (to some degree or another) it could be called a polluted or defiled conscience. The conscience is ‘evil’ when it gives either none or a false testimony as to past or present actions.

When reflecting upon ones own sin and wickedness, if the conscience feels no pain, it is bad (evil), and said to be seared or hardened (1 Timothy 4:2). This is caused by people deliberate ignoring what the conscience is communicating. Couple this with quenching the Holy Spirit and a person is in danger of being hardened beyond hope. Moreover, we may develop a “dull spot” in an area of the conscience that is continually quenched or seared. It is also evil when, during the commission of sin(s), it does not prick us inwardly (in the heart). 

A Good Conscience

A good conscience is one that has been purged by the blood of Christ and is utilizing the laws of God written upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit as a reference point for its moral decisions. Everyone is born with certain ‘default’ laws of righteousness upon our hearts. As we grow in the knowledge of God our conscience is trained with right information and becomes increasingly effective as a guide.

The Weak Conscience

A weak conscience is one in which there are residual rules and regulations of people that have nothing to do with God, but yet are present in the heart and are used by the conscience to make rulings for good or evil. This is seen in great detail in Romans 14. As it is written, accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand (NIV).

This is true in all sorts of disputable matters. The issue is, does the person have a pure biblical justification in their conscience for what they are doing? If so then they are acting in faith. If a person believes that what they are about to do is sin — it is sin unto them (Romans 14:23). Why, because they cannot do it in a pure conscience. They cannot act in faith and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. 

Dealing With a Weak Conscience

This is not to say that God has a different set of rules for everyone because He does not. The issue has to do with our growth and having been built up in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). It takes time for God to erase things like ‘old wives fables’ and ‘legalistic laws’ and add His laws in their place. 

There are times when we are vulnerable to certain sins and the Holy Spirit will convict us to stay away from things that make us fall. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and our conscience. When counseling sinners, one must not be advised to transgress their conscience, nor allowed to feel like it’s OK to do so. If a person thinks something they are about to do is a sin — they should not do it.

Evidence of a Seared Conscience

Something worse than an overly-sensitive conscience is a seared conscience. When a person can compromise or sin and feel no pain of conscience (whether in whole or in a particular area), repentance is in order. Once repentance is secured God must reestablish sensitivity in the conscience. To transgress the area again is to re-sear what God has healed. 

The great enemy of our conscience is the ever increasingly wicked world system that is dumbing down the conscience of society. God has placed the Church (true Christians) in society to be a light. When believers conform to this world they have a diminishing light and conscience. Soon they side with evil with no pain of conscience. They can subject themselves to the presence of evil with no problem. This is the great challenge of our times. We must reject this tendency, maintain a good conscience, lest we be as some (who) having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

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