VII. The Human Conscience
The Good Samaritan
The human conscience is simply defined as “what the mind allows or disallows.”
The problem with that is obvious. The mind then becomes our god if we let our conscience be our guide. It is a doctrine of the devil to “let your conscience be your guide.” The Lord God Almighty and His written Word are to be our guide. Our conscience can be an aid or an enemy to obedience. Our conscience may allow what God does not allow, or it may disallow what God expects of us.
For example: Our conscience may not bother us if we walk around with half or most of our skin uncovered during the hot summertime. Our mind allows it. But God’s Word says, Leviticus 18:6-7 “None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.” …and so on. In the New Testament we are instructed in 1 Timothy 2: 9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;” It was said of the nation of Israel once in 2 Chronicles 28:19 “For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.” Peter was convicted in his spirit and got right by the presence of Christ one day in John 21:7 “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.” The Demoniac, when delivered from the devils that were in him by the power of God, was described as “sitting, and clothed and in his right mind,” (Mark 5:15). When our mind allows some things that God condemns, then there is something wrong with our conscience. Conscience should never replace Christ on the throne of our hearts.
The opposite is also true: Our conscience may disallow what God expects of us. God expects us to be soul-winners, prayer warriors, tithers, Church servers, charity givers, “assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), etc. A person may say, “I have no conviction about that, I have no burden about that.” Because their conscience is not pricked about their sin of omission, their conscience has taken the place of Christ as their shepherd.
Now the word “conscience” is only found in the New Testament. It is translated from only one Greek word: suneidesis. It is the moral consciousness, or lack thereof, of a man. It is what that particular person’s mind allows or disallows. As God begins to control a person’s mind, the conscience obviously will change and become an ally to our Christian walk rather than an enemy. This is the way God changes us. Romans 12:2 says “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed (Greek metamorphosis) BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” We need to have a “conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 2:19)
A. The Bible identifies 10 types of consciences in this world:
1. A convicted conscience – John 8:9 (These men were pricked in their conscience for judging another when they, themselves, were guilty.)
2. A good conscience that bears witness/testimony – Romans 2:15, 9:1; 2 Corinthians 1:12
3. A conscience void of offence – Acts 24:16 (A good testimony before God and man.)
4. A weak conscience – 1 Corinthians 8:10-12 (This is the person who is young in the Lord and gets offended easily by the actions of others, or is emboldened by the wrong actions of believers they are watching and end up doing worse things.)
5. A defiled conscience – 1 Corinthians 8:7; Titus 1:15 (The person with a weak conscience eventually defiles their conscience, letting the actions of other believers and the world dictate their convictions, rather than the word of God guiding them.)
6. A good conscience – 1 Timothy 1:5, 9; Hebrews 13:18; 1 Peter 3:16, 21 (This is the conscience most mentioned, and our aim. To live in a way so that no one can honestly accuse us of wrong, and God sees our actions as right.)
7. A pure conscience – 1 Timothy 3:9 (There is no substitute for purity in all our being.)
8. A seared conscience – 1 Timothy 4:2 (How sad it is when a person gets past feeling in certain areas of their life. This happens to the lost and the saved. Some saved people cannot seem to be changed by preaching, singing, example, God’s discipline, or anything. Their conscience has been seared. Let us pray for the healing of our conscience until we come to the place where everything that troubles God also troubles us.)
9. A purged conscience – Hebrews 9:14 (Thank God that our conscience can be purged from thinking that our dead works please God, to truly serving God in the Holy Spirit.)
10. An evil conscience – Hebrews 10:22 (A conscience that allows us to think or do bad things.)
B. Our conscience need to serve:
1. God first – Acts 23:1, “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 1 Peter 2:19, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” 1 Peter 3:21b, “…the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” We must care that our words and deeds are right toward God.
2. Others second
a. Being subject to government – Romans 13:5 “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”
b. Being subject to the scrutiny of the lost – Acts 24:16 “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.”
c. Being subject to the scrutiny of the saved – 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” 1 Corinthians 8:7-13, “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
3. Ourselves last – Romans 9:1 “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,” Our conscience, when right, works with the Holy Ghost as a partner to make us be what He wants us to be, and to do what He wants us to do.