The Human Conscience
When we grow in faith, making the right decision starts to become easier.
Before we over-think, we detect an inner voice that seems to guide our way.
We all face difficult decisions throughout our lives. Sometimes our options might all seem wrong, at other times, they might all seem right. Like rolling dice, should we go ahead and make important decisions when we are unsure of the outcome?
The consequences for our decisions can be surprising and sometimes quite regrettable. On these occasions, we may be reminded of the saying: "Hindsight is 20/20".
How can we have the foresight to make the best decisions in life? This can be gained with direction from prayer and wisdom from scripture. But is there something else too?
Conscience - which is literally defined as; “co-knowledge”. Our memory, will, personality, feelings, etc..., are often seen as the many conditions or moods of the individual mind. Our conscience is the inner voice, the gut feeling, in which one reviews and judges one's thoughts, actions and desires. We might even think of the cartoonish analogy of a devil and an angel debating the consequence of a decision as they sit on a person’s shoulder.
Is this inner voice real, or is it imagined? Where does it originate? Is it always right? Should we take it serious? How does our conscience interact with our “Train of Thought”?
"And your ears shall hear a word behind you,
saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left."
Made in God’s Image
Mentioned throughout this website, we are created in God’s spiritual image. We are not just made of flesh and bone. This is what separates mankind from all other life on Earth. This supernatural connection to God and the spiritual realm provide for our awareness and higher intelligence compared to the rest of creation.
Because of this reality, our lives have great purpose since our souls exist after our bodies fade away. Ultimately, life is a test of our faith in God. And our conscience was created as a potential moral compass. I say potential because it is up to us to learn how to use it.
Our conscience is also our connection to the spiritual forces dwelling in the unseen multi-dimensional universe. If we seek God, our conscience can be of great help. It has the potential to be a crucial guide when we are faced with life's important decisions.
“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Our conscience is the moral judiciary of our soul. It warns us of God’s moral laws that govern the universe. These laws are expressed verbally in the Ten Commandments and by Jesus’ with His Sermon on the Mount. Conscience is in the heart of all of mankind.
A Conscience of Conviction
Our conscience is primarily used in conviction. It will ask us if we have a belief system or a standard to live by. While the Holy Spirit will often use our conscience to inspire us on how we make a decision, it will do this by convicting us to follow the righteous path.
Jesus used this concept when the Pharisees brought a woman accused of adultery to his attention. They were planning to stone her to death. Their conviction got the best of them when Jesus said the person without sin may cast the first stone.
“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience,
went out one by one, beginning at the eldest,
even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone,
and the woman standing in the midst.” - John 8:9 (KJV)
A Guilty Conscience
The Bible teaches us that our conscience can serve different purposes. With this in mind, we must also realize that God does not create feelings of guilt. Our guilt is created by our own doing. It is often because of the regret we feel due to our conviction to obey God's commandments. This is why reading the Bible is so important.
Guilt can also be used as a tool by individuals to manipulate those they know for reasons of envy, control or revenge. We must have good judgement (conscience) to recognize the source and purpose of our guilt. Accurate discernment comes from God. His method of delivery is often from our conscience through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Since the beginning of mankind, we have been living in sin. Our sin separates us from God. Because of this, it is normal to regret bad decisions.
"But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear."
- Isaiah 59:2 (ESV)
The most common repercussion of being separated from God due to our transgressions, is to have a guilty conscience. Similar to the pain we feel from a physical injury, a guilty conscience exists to teach us to avoid past mistakes.
“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” - Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)
A Corrupted Conscience
At times the Bible talks about a corrupted conscience.
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”
- Titus 1:15 (NIV)
When we reject our conscience time after time, like a bell with a crack in it, our inner voice will not ring with a clear note with the truth anymore. Like a symphony with an instrument out of tune, our lives will not produce the kind of music that bears the fruit of our Lord’s will. We become lost without the moral guidance in a world ready to take advantage of our weaknesses. What was sweet will become bitter, as the bitter becomes sweet to our changing senses. Eventually your conscience will then become unreliable, leading you in the wrong direction. At this point, you now rationalize sin. Your conscience has been driven away as a friend and counselor to be replaced by a counterproductive influence of confusion and the potential for crisis.
“Holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this,
some have made shipwreck of their faith,”
- 1 Timothy 1:19 (ESV)
The conscience can be deceived by secular society or used by evil spirits. Like a computer connected to the internet, our conscience is our network connection to the spiritual world, for the good and bad. Like a dangerous virus, our minds can be infected and permanently corrupted if we are not on guard. The message in the Bible is the ultimate anti-virus.
What might be logical to a person with an open heart, will now become illogical to those with a closed heart. Through greed, self-gratification and the distractions of our physical life, secular popular culture corrupts the heart and soul of the spiritually weak.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
- 1st John 4:1 (ESV)
The Holy Spirit
When we have a relationship with God and we take to heart what is written in the Bible, His wisdom will have greater influence on our minds. As we continue to grow, we become more like Christ. Our thoughts become more pure and the Scriptures appear more logical and easier to comprehend. This is because we have matured as we gradually gain more wisdom aided by the Holy Spirit.
“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying;
my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 9:1 (ESV)
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."
- John 14:26 (ESV)
When we are confronted with important decisions or complicated situations, how does a believer know if their conscience is motivated by the Holy Spirit? The Bible is quite specific in detecting whether we are inspired by God or the World. In 1st John, the bible serves as a warning. It teaches us that we must test our options with Scriptures.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” - Colossians 2:8 (NIV)
Relying on the Bible
Reading the Bible is the best way to know right from wrong and to also realize when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. As the book of 1st John goes on to say:
“this is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” - 1st John 4:2-4 (ESV)
This verse should remind us of the saying: "What would Jesus do?" If our conscience does not agree with Christ's teachings, we must take warning.
When we drift away from God and the scriptures as time goes by, we struggle to make the connection and fail to remember the logic found in the Bible. We begin to sacrifice our future for the temporary pleasures and secular logic of the present.
"They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts,
while their conscience also bears witness,
and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them"
- Romans 2:15 (ESV)
The Bible teaches us that the conscience cannot heal the wound that inflicts. It cannot wash out the stain of the soul from our sin. It cannot undo the past, as the true purpose of our conscience is to motivate mankind to follow God’s laws moving forward.
"So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man."
- Acts 24:16 (ESV)
Acknowledging our own sin, repenting and asking God for forgiveness helps clear our conscience. Asking for forgiveness from those who we hurt or sin against also clears the conscience. This is mankind’s gift from God in finding true inner peace.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1st John 1:9 (ESV)
The ritual of Baptism is our way to acknowledge that our salvation is a gift of grace through the sacrifice and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This symbolic act of spiritual cleansing will also help clear our conscience.
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you,
not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” - 1st Peter 3:21 (ESV)
When our conscience is properly tuned in to God's direction, we are prepared to learn from past mistakes and to handle the complexities of life that we face in the future.
We also gain direction through the various lessons found throughout the Bible. There are a grand total of 613 different laws that are mentioned. Two of these laws reign supreme.
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