While a detailed treatment of what the Bible says about the human conscience is beyond the scope of this book, I want to explore the human conscience and its role in our walk with God.
You can think of the conscience as a window by which the light of heaven shines through to our spirits. Through the conscience, the Holy Spirit corrects, reprimands, and makes us feel uneasy when we take a step that contradicts our new nature in Christ.
A believer’s conscience reproves sin and approves righteousness. In order to walk in the Spirit, we must learn how to be sensitive to the voice of our conscience. For the Christian, the conscience is an inward monitor which alerts us to our spiritual condition.
The conscience bears witness to God’s will (Rom. 2:15; 2 Cor. 4:2), and it testifies to the truth (Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12; 5:11). Paul and Peter exhort us to follow our conscience (Rom. 13:5; 1 Cor. 10:25-29; 1 Pet. 2:19).
The New Testament describes five different states of the human conscience. They are . . .
* a cleansed or purified conscience (Heb. 9:9, 14). A conscience that has been cleansed from guilt and protest by the blood of Christ.
* a good, blameless, or clear conscience (Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Tim. 1:5, 19; 1 Tim. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18; 1 Pet. 3:16, 21). A conscience that is free from guilt, protestation, or reprimand. The believer is walking in the Spirit and the dictates of his or her conscience. As a result, they have unclouded communion with God. There is no stain on the window, so God’s light can easily penetrate into their spirits.
* an evil or defiled conscience (Titus 1:15; Heb. 10:22). A conscience which protests that that a person is violating God’s will in their behavior or attitudes.
* a seared conscience (1 Tim 4:2). A conscience whose correction and protest has been ignored and suppressed. The individual has quenched and deadened the voice of their conscience.
* a week conscience (1 Cor. 8:7-12). A conscience that has been misinformed that some things are wrong for a particular individual when they are permissible for others (Paul uses the examples of eating meat and drinking wine in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8).
It’s all too easy to hang on to a sinful attitude or practice and ignore the dictates of one’s conscience. I know, because I’ve done this myself in my foolishness.
If we will walk in the Spirit, then, we would be wise to let our conscience probe our lives, expose our faults, and accept its reprimands. Doing so is to deal with any sin in our lives by applying the blood of Christ which cleanses our conscience and repenting so that we may break free from sin’s consequences. In this way, the clouds that cover over the window of our conscience can be removed and God’s light can shine through without hindrance.
The fact is, the more closely a person walks with God, the more keenly alert they will be to the inward monitor of their conscience.
Excerpted from one of Frank Viola’s books