The dictionary has a few definitions for the word conscience;
– the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual
– the inner sense of what is right or wrong in ones conduct or motives, impelling
on toward right action.
The bible says that God has placed basic principles of His law in every persons conscience, whether that person ever reads the bible or has ever been told anything about God. We can find this in Romans 2:12-16; paying special attention to verses 14 and 15.
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 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, 15 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) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
There is also such a thing as a “seared conscience.” A seared conscience results when the internal voice is constantly ignored to a point where it is completely dulled so that when evil is done the conscience responds very little or not at all. And I believe that that is a very dangerous place to be.
I believe that when we become a child of God; (after we have repented of the sin in our life and accepted the great gift of Salvation that He offers us) it is so important to maintain a pure conscience. Paul the Apostle expresses this in Acts 24:12-16.
12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
Like Paul I believe that we should always strive to have a pure conscience. If we have an offense before God that we have not acknowledged, we do not have the boldness to go to Him to ask for what we need for our spiritual growth in Him. With a defiled or guilty conscience our desire for closeness with God in prayer, through meeting with other Christians or through studying the bible becomes less and less.
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
When we carry a guilty conscience our ability to talk to others about God is limited because we know that they can point a finger at us in the areas we have not made right. 1 Peter 3:15-17 puts that into perspective.
15 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; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
A final point I want to make is that the bible and NOT our conscience is the final guide for living life Gods way. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4 tells us that it is possible for our conscience to indicate to us that nothing is wrong but according to the scriptures there may be something wrong.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.
We need to remember that our conscience is limited by the knowledge of the bible that we possess. Therefore the bible is our final guide and God our final judge! If Christ and the biblical scriptures are not your guide then don’t let your conscience be your guide.