Living in All Good Conscience

Edwin Eby

Christian Living

Planted in each human is an accountable, sovereign will of the mind. By this, man constantly wills either to live his life as a lone entity, or voluntarily assign his will over to God's Sovereign will. The New Testament teaches that man also has a conscience sitting in judgment of, and in witness with, the moral righteousness of God to this will of man. Paul writing in Romans 1-3 explains that because of this no man stands inexcusable before God. Though the English word conscience is absent in Old Testament texts its nature is unmistakably exposed. Jacob's sons standing before the prime minister of Egypt clearly revealed this conscience in action when they said one to another "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." Cain's guilty retort "Am I my brother's keeper?" to God's honest question also illustrates this. Proverbs 28:1 gives witness of the same in yet other way. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." A spirit of opposition to exposed truth is often a signal of the conscience at work. This includes Bible preaching. A good, pure conscience before God needs no defense. It remains quiet and worships God because no offense stands as witness of the holiness of God against it.

The conscience sits to condemn or acquit the will of the one to which it sits in judgment. As a private moral umpire, it either accuses or excuses motives. It hands down verdict, involuntary to human will. Unlike a human judge of integrity though, this judge of the will can be trained by the very one of which it judges. This conscience is either of two kinds good; void of offense to the holiness of God or evil.

A good conscience trained in the presence of, and by the righteousness of its Creator, never fails to give unadulterated judgment. It stands thus as witness along side the holiness of God who created it to show its owner truth. It cries out for purity and peace if defiled. A good, pure conscience working in synergistic effects with obedience to the Holy Spirit of God is peace. This peace then bears fruit unto holiness and righteousness unto everlasting life. This is precisely what Paul meant when he said "herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." Every true disciple should do what Paul did. Paul willed to present his conscience before the righteous holiness of God, therefore it answered correct judgment. In that position, both he and his conscience could live in peace. Nothing cried out for reconciliation between his motives and the holiness of God allowing him to freely face both God and men. He could lay down his head and sleep whether captive or free, renowned or cursed, accused or acquitted, popular or defamed.

Evil consciences identified in the Bible are eternally perilous. A defiled conscience described in Titus 1:15 had been pure but then defilement crossed its face. Closely associated with this conscience is the age of accountability. At one point, the awakened conscience begins to speak judgment along with the Holy law of Righteous God concerning sin. A defiled conscience was first a pure conscience, but by choice of its owner, who wills defilement to fall upon or taint its pureness, consequently falls under the condemning judgment of the conscience. This defiled conscience will continue to speak condemnation until the will of its owner chooses one of two actions, either allow it to run to its Heavenly Father pleading for forgiveness and cleansing thereby reinstating its purity, or let it remain defiled. If left in a defiled state, a searing process begins immediately.

The seared conscience as identified in 1Timothy 4:2 is a dangerous one because it no longer speaks correct judgment according with the moral code of God. It excuses the will rather than accusing it allowing its owner to continue in satisfied apathy. It does not rise up in condemning unity with the holiness of God but soothes in sympathy and in accordance with the prescribed training imposed by the will of its owner. That is, the owner codes it to his own dictates contrary to the law of God. God allows this process into a reprobate condition and unto every evil work letting it be deceived unto eternal death.

Hebrews 9 distinguishes a dead works conscience as a sort of seared conscience, equally depraved, and even more dangerously pernicious. This evil conscience seared by a religious hot iron is found most prevalently among those professing as Christians. A dead works conscience speaks religious peace, falsifies true heart condition, excuses in religious format, claims Christ on basis of sheer moral uprightness, but serves not the living God. It features the real, yet stinks and decays from inside out bringing blasphemy upon the name of Christ. It functions in keeping with ethnic standard but in actuality denies the blood of Christ. Unless purged by the blood of Jesus this conscience acts as a deceptive, misleading, compass unto a religious but damning end.

The conscience is a measure of God approved, spirituality (1 Cor 8). It is the only means of guiding a person to righteousness outside of external law (Rom 13:5). It proves or disproves authenticity of its owner's righteousness and is only a true guide when trained by the righteous holiness of God (John 8:1- 11). Sovereignty of will then, finally dictates whether the Holy Spirit is permitted to guide through the conscience. Therefore, the conscience is finally the sole human controlled authority, dictating destiny. Let all who profess holiness maintain a pure conscience before God and before men.

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