I have learned that because of my experiences with abuse in my childhood, I developed a sensitive conscience. At first glance this may appear to be a good thing. You might think that someone with a sensitive conscience is thoughtful about what they say or do, but unfortunately this is not the case. A sensitive conscience lives with remembrances from the past. There is a mulling over and over of events that were sinful or brought about by sin, it tortures the person with hopelessness about the future. Everyone has nagging thoughts that bring back the past and, of course, Satan loves to remind us of our past mistakes and accuse us over and over so that we will not “hope” in the Lord. Here’s a little study on conscience.
The Greek word for “conscience” is syneid?sis. It signifies a look back into one’s past, an evaluation of remembered events in relationship to good and evil. To the Greeks, conscience was usually a “bad conscience.” The bad conscience was relentless in plaguing its owner by accusations about past failures. The Bible shows how God deals with our bad consciences. The Bible tells us in Romans that even pagans “show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” Romans 2:15. What Paul is describing is the moral faculty that God has built into every human being. In other words, even those who do not know God standards intuitively know that there exists moral issues and they even set standards in moral areas. However, they are unable to keep the very standard they set. When guilt condemns them, they attempt to quiet the accusing conscience by blaming others and/or by excusing their own actions. The conscience is a “witness” to man’s moral nature.
Now, the Jews had God’s written law as the moral standard of right and wrong. Therefore, they had the benefit of accurate knowledge of moral content. However, Paul says that the pagans act against their uninformed consciences, the Jews acted against their informed consciences. All humanity, gentiles and Jews alike break the moral code in which they believe. Conscience is a “witness” to the rightness of moral standards. However, conscience is also a “witness” against those who violate their standards. Conscience can never succeed in producing a truly moral person. Why is that? First, because there is no guarantee that an individual’s evaluation is correct. We all see things from our own perspective. Because of the fall that perspective is tainted by our fallen nature. What a person’s conscience says is correct may not agree with God’s standard. Also, even a believer can have a weak conscience. In 1 Corinthians 8:7, Paul describes a person with a weak conscience. “But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.” Paul is saying that Christians that have not yet attained a mature understanding of the Christian faith may have trouble with matters such as eating meat and determining which days should be considered special (see Romans 14:1-6). Because these believers focus on non essentials, they begin to judge or look down on those who disagree with them. “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10. So, a weak conscience can trap a person into serious sins.
The Bible also talks about a person’s conscience being “defiled.” Someone who has a weak conscience is more susceptible to acting against what he or she believes is right and because of that, this person is made to feel guilty (I Cor. 8:7). If there is continual violation of conscience, this can corrupt a conscience and bring a constant state of defilement (Titus 1:15).
In Hebrews, the author speaks of the Old Testament sacrificial system. This system was unable to clear the conscience because the endless sacrifices were a constant reminder of one’s sins. A person constantly stood guilty before God. The conscience would remind the person of their guilt and diminish any hope for the future. Guilt saps our strength and prevents us from seeing hope in a different future. But, the good news is what the Old Testament sacrificial system failed to do is accomplished in Christ’s blood sacrifice “once for all” so that our conscience is cleansed. This is not all. Hebrews 10:17 says, “ Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” God no longer remembers our sins! Praise God! The author goes on to say, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14 He further states in Hebrews 10:22, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Oh, this is reason for rejoicing! We can draw near to God in “full assurance of faith” because of Christ’s sacrifice. Christ is now seated at the right hand of God waiting for His enemies to become His footstool. Christ sitting down has often been misunderstood as Him being merely an observer and watching the events of the world. It means; however, that He has judged the enemy and the enemy stands condemned. In other words, Satan knows he’s doomed. Christ waits for the end of time when the judgment comes and everything will be renewed. Beloved, trust in His sacrifice and draw near to God; Christ’s sacrifice cleanses our conscience and satisfies God’s requirement under His law.
As we draw closer and closer to God, read His word, and become more intimate with Him, the reality of a cleansed conscience becomes an ever increasing reality for us. Are you praising God right now? I am. Beloved, your conscience may still try to shout out accusations at you, but as you renew your mind in His word and meditate the truth of His Word that all our sins are forgiven because of Christ sacrifice “once for all,” the cleansed conscience becomes the norm. This allows you to move forward in grace and serve the Living God. Therefore, your conscience becomes stronger and stronger as you mature in your faith.
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t delay! If you have suffered from a sensitive conscience don’t just spend a little time with Him. Turn off that TV, don’t answer the telephone and spend the time you need with Him today and every day. He is our very life and He has cleansed our conscience from past sins. Walk in the truth of that reality TODAY!
About the Author: I am a wife, mother, sister, friend, Bible teacher, writer, designer, artist. A wretch ransomed, “brought me (us) into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” Colossians 1:13. With God’s help, running the race to pursue the Lord with resolute abandon. His love makes my heart thrive. Pressing on to honor Him with obedience, worship Him in the splendor of His holiness, and love Him with all my heart, soul, and strength. Humbly amazed that He loves me and pressing on to be faithful to Him. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12