Bible Topics: Keeping a good conscience
Definition: Conscience is the knowledge of right and wrong, and a feeling that one should do what is right.
1. Conscience is the guiding voice of God in man
- Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly. [See also Job 32:8.]
- Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
- John 1:9 [Jesus' Spirit touches every man:] That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. [See also John 14:6.]
- Romans 2:14,15 [Even those who don't personally know Jesus have a godly conscience, which the Lord has given to every man.] For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
2. We must choose whether or not to obey our conscience.
- Job 27:6b My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
- Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
- 2 Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
- 1 Timothy 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
3. A guilty conscience convicts us of sin.
- Job 15:20a,21a,24a The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, 21a A dreadful sound is in his ears: 24a Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him.
- Psalm 40:12b [King David prayed:] Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
- Psalm 73:21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
- Isaiah 59:12 For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them.
- Romans 1:18,19 [God convicts all men about wrongdoing.] For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
4. Truth resisted loses its power over the mind. If we refuse to heed our conscience, we eventually become dull to it.
- Jeremiah 6:15a Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.
- Matthew 6:22,23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! [See also Luke 11:34,35.]
- Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
- Ephesians 4:17-19 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
- 1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
- Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:7 [In the Last Days, the convicting Holy Spirit will no longer restrain man's lawlessness and rebellion, and all Hell will break loose on earth:] For the mystery of iniquity [the spirit of the Antichrist] doth already work: only He [the Holy Spirit] Who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.
5. Biblical examples of guilty consciences:
- Genesis 3:6b-11 [After partaking of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve had a guilty conscience:] She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast
thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
- Genesis 42:21 [Joseph's brothers:] And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
- Exodus 9:27 [Pharaoh of Egypt:] And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.
- 1 Samuel 24:5-6 [King David was convicted for secretly cutting King Saul's robe:] And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. 6 And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.
- 2 Samuel 24:10 [King David:] And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech Thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
- Ezra 9:6 [Ezra, the priest and scribe said:] O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the Heavens.
- Daniel 5:6 [King Belshazzar of Babylon:] Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him [when he saw God's judgement message, the "handwriting on the wall"], so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
- Matthew 26:75 [Peter the Apostle:] And Peter remembered the Word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. [See also Mark 14:72 and Luke 22:61,62.]
- Matthew 27:3-5 [Judas Iscariot:] Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
- John 8:9 [The scribes and Pharisees, who had accused the harlot and were about to stone her to death:] And they which heard it [Jesus' defense of the woman], being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
- Acts 2:37 [The crowd to whom Peter witnessed about Jesus:] Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
- Acts 9:5 [Saul of Tarsus, who had persecuted the Christians, and who later became Paul, the Apostle:] And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks [of his convicted conscience]. (See also 26:14.)
6. Salvation through grace clears the conscience of condemnation over past sins.
- Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- 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?
- Hebrews 10:22 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.
- 1 John 3:19-21 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
- [See also Condemnation and Remorse, #3 and #4, page 154.]
7. To go against our conscience is a violation of our faith, which is a sin.
- Romans 14:22a,23b Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. 23b For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
- Romans 7:22,23 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
- 1 Corinthians 8:7b [Paul spoke of those coming from pagan religions who had eaten food sacrificed to idols, during their worship of those idols, who after becoming Christians were at times tempted to continue in such practices.] 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.
- 1 Timothy 1:19 Holding [onto] faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.
8. A clear conscience towards God gives us conviction, enabling us to rise above circumstances and the opinions of man.
- Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
- Acts 4:19,20 [Peter and John were faithful to obey their conscience and convictions.] But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. [See also 5:29.]
- 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.
- Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.
- Romans 14:22b Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned [sincere].
- Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
9. However, even if our conscience permits us something, we should nevertheless be mindful of others' faith.
- Romans 14:1-7 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that
eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
- Romans 14:14-20 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
- 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10 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; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. [See also 10:28-32.]
10. Keeping a good conscience is also an important part of our Christian example.
- Romans 13:5 [We need to obey the laws of the land, not just to avoid punishment, but to obey what we know is right.] Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
- 2 Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
- Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
- 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.
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