Be encouraged to educate your conscience rightly
Growing a God honouring conscience, and responding to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, are two facets of Christian living worthy of your attention. Today we shall consider the conscience.
We usually think of the conscience in negative terms, however, it’s designed to function equally as a positive affirming mechanism; …their thoughts now accusing (negative), now even defending (positive) them (Romans 2:14-15 NIV).
As wonderful as the conscience is, it does not force or dictate the decisions we make. Error, tradition, human rationale, and wrong moral influences can all corrupt and prevent the conscience from working correctly (Colossians 2:6-8, 20-23). Paul explained to the Corinthians that his conscience could even send incorrect messages; “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent” (1 Corinthians 4:4 NIV).
How it works
Conscience is the engine that drives our emotions and feelings. When the conscience fires warning signals, the emotions experience negative feelings. Likewise, when conscience fires signals of affirmation, the emotions experience positive feelings (Romans 2:14-15).
Because conscience is a human mechanism (created by God), it requires training, and feeding with information to determine its values. It is continuously feeding on the values of your activities; good, neutral, and bad. It subconsciously extracts the values without you even being aware of what it’s doing. Therefore conscience, having silently been feed by you, establishes a dictionary (or contents page) of values, which it has collected from all your thoughts and activities.
These values are silently categorised into a moral order of priority, or significance, from weakest to strongest. This is important, because conscience activates and sends out signals based on the highest or strongest values in its list. Conscience does not determine the correctness or righteousness of its values, it only collects and works with the values you have fed it.
So, when the time arrives for your conscience to act, it will only fire out signals in keeping with the values you predominantly provided it with. Herein lies the conflict. You can say that you believe whatever you want, but your conscience has been feeding on what you read, what you listen to, what you watch, the influences of the company you keep, and what you think about mostly. It will show you exactly what is within yourself by responding based upon those accumulated values.
This is why it is so important for the Christian to input God’s truth, godly friendship, and God centred worship; so the conscience can assimilate His truth into its strongest and highest priorities (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:24-25). This empowers our human conscience to fire out both warning and affirmation signals in keeping with God’s Word. Sanctification of we believers can be either enriched or damaged by our conscience being trained rightly or not, and by our surrender to authority of God’s Word, the Bible.
How efficiently the conscience functions is determined by the amount of truth we take in, by the degree of obedience to God’s Word, and by the degree to which we keep our conscience unstained by evil. It’s as Paul instructed concerning deacons, we all should “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9). Meaning, our beliefs and living should not violate the truth we know from Scripture regarding our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Be encouraged to educate your conscience rightly, for the glory of God and for His blessing in our lives and those we influence.