Friday, August 8, 2014

The Conscience


The Conscience

Acts 24:16
 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Introduction:

Recently, I found myself feeling guilty for no apparent reason I knew of and immediately went to the Word of God for instruction and comfort. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24). Examining guilt feelings in the light of Scripture, along with prayer, is definitely the cure for a guilty conscience. A person who conceals his sin will not prosper, but the one who confesses and forsakes sin, will have compassion (Proverbs 28:13). After I had spent time searching my heart through prayer and reading God’s Word, I realized that Satan, known as, “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10), tried to discourage my heart with lies (John 8:44). Christians need to understand that guilt appears when sin is prevalent in the life of a believer, but also, when one is not trusting God with a clear and well-advised conscience. The conscience must be persuaded by the Word of God, not by feelings.

The conscience is a servant of the individual’s value system and an immature or sickly value system produces a weak conscience. But, a fully educated value system, produces strong principles that are based on right and wrong. In the Christian life, one’s conscience can be driven by an inadequate understanding of scriptural truths and these can produce guilt, shame, and wrong feelings not related to the issues at hand. As the conscience matures in the faith, it becomes strong; conforming to the principles and precepts found throughout God’s Word. The conscience is a God-given function so human beings can exercise self-evaluation. Paul has referred to his own conscience several times as being “good” or “clear” (Acts 23:1; 24:16; I Corinthians 4:4). We are to examine our own words and deeds and find them to be in accordance with God’s standards. Our conscience should prove the integrity of our heart. 

The deceitfulness of sin, and a dulled conscience is dangerous to the believer because sin is denied through a hardened heart (Hebrews 3:13). The human heart grows more susceptible to temptation, pride, and every other kind of evil, when sin has deceived and defiled the conscience. The conscience is the soul’s warning system which allows believers to make moral evaluations of what they are doing whether it be right or wrong. God has written His law on man’s heart which is a self-judging ability. So, when man violates his conscience, it results in humiliation, regret, and doubt, a signal to the soul’s well-being. A person with a good conscience is doing the will of God from the heart–––producing true joy, everlasting assurance, and ultimate peace.

Thought:  Due to man’s sin nature, wicked men tend to excuse the evil in themselves, and this continual pattern of excusing evil, leads to a hardening of the conscience. Those who insist on keeping their sin, will sin boldly before God and appear to suffer no emotional pains of conscience. They believe they have outsmarted God, but they need to know,  judgment will come when they stand before Christ (Hebrews 9:27; Malachi 3:5)

We learn to distinguish good from evil by getting to know who God is and by applying His Word to our lives. Since sin will appear exceedingly more sinful in the light of God’s Word, a Christian’s conscience can be strengthened through the continual guidance of the Word of God. If we make it our goal to seek God and honor Him in everything we do, we will understand right and wrong and know that our life choices are pleasing to Him (Jeremiah 29:13; 1 Peter 3:12;  and Psalm 106:3). The conscience is a gift from God, don’t ignore it.

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