My Conscience

We heard a great sermon yesterday on the human conscience, or more precisely, the conscience of a Christian, not of an unsaved person.  For the conscience of an unsaved person does not have the benefit of the presence of the Holy Spirit, no matter how nice, good, kind or honest that person is.

We all have heard the old adage, “let your conscience be your guide”, and that sounds good until you consider the condition of the human conscience.

Like everyone else, my own conscience was formed as I grew from a small child into an adult, with all of the influences that affect everyone else.  With my parents first and foremost involved with forming my conscience, I had them as role models.  And I can honestly say that my parents were exceedingly honest, kind and forthright in their dealings with others.  So I had a pretty good beginning.  But then life happened . . . . .

My conscience began to evolve out and away from the pattern that my parents had set, being influenced by others.  Friends who possibly did not have the same parental programming that I did, employers and society in general began to change my conscience.  And this did not happen without my awareness, without my perception of the change.  I was fully aware of what was happening.  No one can say that their conscience was changed without their knowledge or permission.

In Romans 1:18-20, the Apostle Paul said, “For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,”

I knew of God’s wrath, what would bring it on and I also knew how to avoid it.  But for the most part, my life choices ignored the truth  “For though (they) I  knew God, (they) I did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude.” (Vs. 21)
I knew about God, knew about His salvation, had accepted it as a child but never walked in it, grew in it or hungered for it.

In 1 Timothy  4:1-2, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,  through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.”
Thus I had departed from the faith.  And though I never quit believing in God, never quit believing that He had sent His only Son to die for me,  my conscience became so callused that I no longer heard the warning bell or saw that red flag.

Contrary to what many think, the human conscience is not there to guide us.  It is there to sound the alarm.  But like the clock alarm that can be muted by simple pushing a button or moving a lever, the human conscience can be silenced by continually ignoring it, by continual sin and by the continual influence of others whose consciences have been seared.

Just like one of those ear-piercing smoke alarms that save people from fires every day, our conscience is designed to warn us when we are treading on thin ice, walking near disaster, getting too close to the fire.  But how trustworthy a conscience is depends on a lot of factors.

First of all there is the matter of being truly born again.  To have a good and reliable conscience one must be born again. 
I once read a silly story about a very oil rich Oklahoma Indian who bought a beautiful Cadillac convertible.  And though he knew that it had a gas tank, had even filled the tank with the best gasoline, he used his beautiful horse to pull the car.  Some people are like that Indian.  They know about Christ but rather than rely on Him for their life and salvation, they use their own power instead.

Then there is the desire to obey and serve God and spend time in His Word.  To have a trustworthy conscience a person’s heart must be filled with His Word. 
Why anyone would buy an appliance or some other gadget and not read the manual is beyond me.  We recently bought a new laptop computer.  When I say “new” I mean new to us.  Actually it was a “refurbished” trade-in from a large department store.  It is a great machine.  Reliable, with all the bells and whistles.  The problem is that it didn’t come with a manual.  So I am having to learn how it functions like someone trying to walk around in a cluttered room in total darkness.  Last night I somehow managed to put it into the “hibernation” mode and couldn’t figure out how to wake it up.  I had to use our other computer and do a few minutes of research to find out.
I want my conscience to scream out loud and clear if I get too close to danger.  In fact, I want my conscience to give the most ear-piercing scream if I stray even a wee bit from His Way.  And in order for that to happen, I must fill myself with His Word, His will, His knowledge and stay filled with His Spirit.  Read the manual.
Want a good conscience?  Listen to it when that alarm goes off.  Don’t roll over and ignore it.  Don’t think that it’s not important.  Respond instantly when that alarm goes off or the red flag pops up.  Do that and your conscience will begin to be trained to comply with what God has for you.
For years I got up at 3 AM to get ready for work.  I heard that alarm buzzer so many times that I can even remember to this day how annoying it was.  In fact, I chose an alarm clock with the most annoying sound I could find.  Some people like to wake to soft music, but I needed a loud ear busting noise to rouse me out of sleep.  And the funny thing is, on my days off and even after no longer going to work each day, I would still wake at 3 AM.  No alarm needed.  My SUB-conscience was trained to wake at that time.  But if I had repeatedly ignored that alarm, slept through it as many folks can and do, first of all, I would have been late to work all the time, but also, I would not have had that internal training that would continue to wake me long after I didn’t need it anymore.
And finally, be repentant.  If when we do err in our ways, sin in some way, know that nothing is unseen by our Father who is in heaven.  And He is waiting for our expressions of sorrow, grief and a turning from the sin.  That is what repentance is!
Sin cannot be rationalized.  Like a kid caught in a lie, we can’t give some glib explanation and expect God to sweep it under the rug.  It is true repentance and a broken and contrite spirit that keeps our relationship with our Father open.
I could tell many instances when I disobeyed my parents.  But one time in particular is a good example of my last thought.  Caught in a terrible thing, my dad helped me face the situation.  He stood behind me as I apologized for what I had done and asked forgiveness from the man who my behavior had hurt. I’ll never forget the look in my dad’s eyes.  Full of sorrow and disappointment.   And though his demeanor toward me was cooled and for several days he spoke very little to me, I never considered for a moment that I was not still his daughter, that he had disowned me. 
When we sin, God doesn’t disown us, but His demeanor towards us is cooled.  Our relational connection is broken.  But He never leaves us.  In fact, He is right there waiting to hear from us, listening for the cries of our broken heart. . . . .
Seek to have a good and clear conscience.
Walk upright in your faith in Christ.
Spend time in His Word, generously and with love and devotion.
Be repentant and not only listen for that warning bell, the red flag waving, but heed the warning, quickly and without reservation.
Lord God full of grace and mercy, help us walk according to Your Word.  Make the sound of the alarm of our conscience so loud that we can’t ignore it.  And if our feet leave Your path, call us back with that still small voice that carries loud and clear from within the depths of our heart.  We look to You Lord for our guidance and will listen for and respond to our conscience with faith.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

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