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A study of conscience

 

 

1. Conscience - the inner judge of moral issues

(1 Pet 1:22 NKJV) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

1.1. Described as:

Good. (Acts 2:31 NKJV) "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

Pure. (1 Tim 3:9 NKJV) holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

Evil (Heb 10:22 NKJV) 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.

Defiled (1 Cor 8:7 NKJV) 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.

Seared (1 Tim 4:2 NKJV) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

 

1.2. Functions of conscience

A witness (Rom 2:14-15 NKJV) 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, 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)

An accuser (John 8:9 NKJV) Then those who heard it, being 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.

An upholder (1 Tim 1:19 NKJV) having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,

Server of good (Rom 13:4-5 NKJV) For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake.

Source of Joy (2 Cor 1:12 NKJV) For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

Dead (Prov 30:20 NKJV) This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, And says, "I have done no wickedness."

 

1.3 Limitations of Conscience

Needs cleansing. (Heb 9:14 NKJV) how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Subject to others (1 Cor 10:28-29 NKJV) 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; for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience?

Differs (1 Cor 8:7-13 NKJV) 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. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Fallible (Prov 16:25 NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

 

2. Clear conscience - freedom from guilt feelings

2.1 Necessary for:

Freedom from dead works (Heb 9:13-14 NKJV) For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Access to God (Heb 10:21-22 NKJV) and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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.

Liberty in witnessing (1 Pet 3:15-16 NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Christian love (1 Tim 1:5 NKJV) Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

Confidence in prayer (1 John 3:21-22 NKJV) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Proud confidence (2 Cor 1:12 NKJV) For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

 

2.2 Requirements for a clear conscience

Doctrinal purity (1 Tim 1:3-5 NKJV) As I urged you when I went into Macedonia; remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

1 Tim 1:18-2:1 NKJV) This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,

(1 Tim 4:1-2 NKJV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

Proper conduct (Acts 24:10-13 NKJV) Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: "Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, "because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. "And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city."Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.

(Acts 24:16 NKJV) "This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

( Rom 13:4-6 NKJV) For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing.

Faith in Christ's blood (Heb 9:14 NKJV) how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

(Heb 10:19-22 NKJV) Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God,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.

Knowledge (1 Cor 8:7 NKJV) 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.

Belief (Titus 1:15 NKJV) 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.

Submissive spirit (1 Pet 2:18-19 NKJV) Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

Faith in God's greatness (1 John 3:20 NKJV) For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

Consideration of others (1 Cor 10:28-29 NKJV) 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; for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience?

Seeking forgiveness (Mat 5:23-24 NKJV) "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Ken Walker