By: Bro. Joel Uto
Introduction: Everyone has a conscience. After the creation of man, God breathe into man. This breathe includes conscience which is the part of the mind that makes you (us) aware of our actions as being either morally right or wrong.
Conscience is an aspect of the spirit in man and was full of light (Goodness, righteousness or pure), devoid of darkness (evil, wickedness, wrongness). Rationality was part of conscience to differentiate between good, rightness from bad, wrongness. When God commands Adam “do not eat that fruit”.
Gen. 2:16-17 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you[a] shall surely die.” He (Adam) was given to the use of conscience. Adam fell from the good relationship he had with God after he ate the “forbidden fruit”. In other words, Adam exercised his conscience wrongly. “Don’t eat the fruit” was the rightness of conscience if man had obeyed.
The knowledge of God Himself is revealed to man in our consciences Rom. 2:14, 15 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them).
However, man or the Christian cannot out-rightly depend, rely on conscience as safe and perfect guide to live, do things, worship God because conscience unlike the revealed word of God, is changeable and fallible. 1 Cor. 8:7 – 7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
Conscience can be suppressed by sin. Rom. 1:21-23 – 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [a]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Some consciences are seared to know truth. 1 Tim. 4:2 – 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. The conscience does not provide any personal knowledge of God.
What is conscience?
There is no doubt, the Greek word “Suneidesis” and Suneidos provide understanding into conscience. Suneidesis is a co-perception, it is moral consciousness. Suneidos is to see completely, understand and become aware. In other words, to be conscious.
However, Webster dictionary defines conscience as moral consciousness in general; the activity or faculty by which distinctions are made between right and wrong in one’s conduct and character, we can therefore say that the sense of judging what is right or wrong.
Can conscience safely guide any Christian? Many have lived to sin as call from conscience!
NATURE OF CONSCIENCE: Since the eating of the fruit which God forbade man, conscience has never been the same. Gen. 3:7-8 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves [a]coverings. 8 And they heard the [b]sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the [c]cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Conscience can be good or bad, discerning or undiscerning. People, even Christians live good or vicious sometimes. The good or bad conscience recognizes God but act differently in principles of rightness or wrongness. Titus 1:15 15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
1 Cor. 10:25-29 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; [a]for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” 29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?
The good conscience works rightly in principles of its existence, easily convicted by the word of God, such conscience yearns for God, bears the truth, and sees a wrong as wrong. John 8:9 9 Then those who heard it, being[a] convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit. Romans 13:5 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 1 Tim. 1:5 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from [a]sincere faith. 1 Tim. 3:9 9 holding the [a]mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. Leaders in the church are expected to have clear good conscience and by extension all Christians.
The bad conscience, on the other hand sees bad in good, or sees good in bad. The bad conscience in man or the Christian help him to live depraved life. Rom. 1:20-32 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [a]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [b]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [c]women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [d]men, leaving the natural use of the [e]woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, [f]sexual immorality, wickedness, [g]covetousness, [h]maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 [i]undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [j]unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Some consciences among Christians cannot differentiate good from bad. Some are imitators of anything as much as possible because others are doing so. Conscience can be easily influenced rightly or wrongly (cf John 8:9) 9 Then those who heard it, being[a] convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Many Christians can’t know their wrongs from a conscience that to them is clear or good. Conscience itself needs to be guided by good, good is of God, God is good! Gen. 1:30-31 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is [a]life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Matt. 19:17 17 So He said to him, [a]“Why do you call Me good? [b]No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
People claims to have or live on good or clear conscience yet that is insufficient to save man.
Acts 23:1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Acts 24:16 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. 1 Tim. 1:5 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from [a]sincere faith.
Conscience must be guided by the word revealed of God before it could be right. Cornelius conscience could not save until God told him what should be done. Acts 10:1-10 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian [a]Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave [b]alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About [c]the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He[d] will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about [e]the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance.
The Word And The Christian Conscience
The word of God balances and guides conscience unless we refused to heed. Psm 119:103-105 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
When the Christian holds to the counsel of God, he will be wise in good conscience towards God. God guided the conscience of Adam and Eve by His instruction to them. Eat every fruit except the one of the knowledge of good and evil. Gen. 2:16-17 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you[a] shall surely die.”
The Christian faith, attitudes should be based and built with a good conscience from the word of God. A good and clear conscience always trusting in God should be the Christian focus and so be guide to live honourably. 1 Cor. 4:4 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Heb. 13:18 18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. When the word confirms your conscience to be good, then it is obvious to do just that which is right.
Conscience towards God is better even to suffer. 1 Pet. 2:19 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Pet. 3:16 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
Conscience cannot be a safe guide but the word of God which is light and truth. Psalms 119:105 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. John 17:17 17 Sanctify[a] them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
In the house of God we must allow the word to settle all matters and issues not conscience.
Salvation of man will only be possible upon good/clear conscience toward God. 1 Pet. 3:21 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is only good conscience yearning for the true God and His saving gospel take to its preaching.
CONCLUSION Heb. 10:22, 1 John 3:20-21
Conscience alone is not a safe and perfect guide for the Christian. The Christian conscience should be controlled and led by the word of God. People had lived to the dictates of conscience yet they were not right until the word of God came in (for example, Paul and Cornelius).
Do you lived to your conscience most times?
Let us not disobey and contrast God’s word by some Christians saying “as long as my conscience tells me to do it or not” I am okay.
Thank you and God bless you in Jesus name… Amen