A Pure Conscience


A Pure Conscience


Acts 23:1. “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

The conscience is a most important characteristic that God has endowed each human with that was given to them to deter or forestall them from doing wrong.


Genesis 3:7. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. 8. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

The first thing that happened to Adam and Eve after they had disobeyed God was their conscience was hurt, in fact, it tormented them. They were not aware of this built-in mechanism which, until sin entered, was not activated. Satan had told them that their “eyes would be opened,” but he did not tell them of the anguish that would follow, the wishing, the aching, that it could be undone.

Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened in a horrible way. They knew good, but also that they were separated from it. They knew evil because they were saturated in it. They knew good and evil (sin) in a way God never intended them to know—through their own experience.

Sin brought shame in their lives: Another thing they had never had before, they knew they were naked, and they were ashamed before God. Adam and Eve stood before each other, dirty in sin and feeling very exposed. They were ashamed of themselves and ashamed of each other, but that didn’t begin to compare with their feeling of shame before God. They were so ashamed that just the thought of having to face Him sent them into hiding and trying to cover themselves with fig leaves.

Have you tried to sew some leaves together to cover up your sin and shame before God? Leaves of good works? Leaves of religion? Leaves of Church attendance? Leaves of community service? There is no fig leaves thick enough, or big enough to hide your sin and shame from God. The only thing that will cover your sin is the shed Blood of the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”

When your conscience is bothering you, thank God for it. Don’t smother your conscience or over-ride it until it no longer speaks to you. Listen to it when it speaks, and make restitution to God and your fellow man. Your conscience is your best friend.

The ‘conscious’ has been described as “The sense of what is right and wrong that governs somebody’s thoughts and actions, urging him or her to do right rather than wrong. Using this idea we want to take the next few days to examine the Vanishing Conscience in the world we live in.

First of all, we want to look at how a person conscious is formed. When a baby is born he has no sense of what is right or wrong, but God made it possible for this sense (conscience) to be developed. A person conscious is a learning process and the learning process begins as soon as the child’s thinking capabilities are formed.

The child’s parents, especially the mother, is usually the one it becomes attached to because its personal need is usually taken care of by her, so she usually becomes its first teacher. That’s why good mothers are so important in early training.

The conscience is first formed when the mother and father talk to them about things they should or should not do. The remembrance of those things is the beginning of a conscience. The conscience grows accordingly along with the environment in which the child grows up in. If it grows up in a good moral Christian atmosphere, with Godly principals, both taught and acted out before them, learning to love and respect other people, their conscience will develop like-wise. Good Sunday School and Church services, with Pastors stressing love and empathy, is one of the best developers of a Godly conscience.

Children who lack this type of training usually grow up lacking a Godly conscience and empathy. When we say ‘empathy’ we mean they have no capacity of sorrow or understanding of the feelings of another person or animal. Thousands upon thousands of children have grown up in the last few decades who have no empathy and commit horrific crimes because they have no sympathy or feelings of guilt or remorse or regret. Guilt only comes when a person breaks a rule that has been formed in their conscience. So no rules formed, no conscience formed.

In looking at the conscience, we must also look at, where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it? The word ‘sin’ occurs 917 times in the KJV Bible, once for almost every page, yet we do not hear much about it anymore. (The Vanishing Conscience)


Romans 6:23a. “For the wages of sin is death;”

In all of the laments and reproaches made by our preachers and prophets, one misses any mention of “sin,” a word which used to be a veritable watchword of prophets. It was a word once in everyone’s mind, but now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles, sin with an “I” in the middle? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented and repaired or atoned for? Is it only that someone may be stupid or sick or criminal or asleep?

Wrong things are being done, we know; tares are being sown in the wheat field at night. But is no one responsible, no one answerable for these acts? Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it? (By Dr. Karl Menninger)

Our culture has declared war on guilt. The very concept is considered medieval, obsolete, unproductive. People who trouble themselves with feelings of personal guilt are usually referred to therapists, whose task it is to boost their self-image. No one, after all, is supposed to feel guilty. Guilt is not conducive to dignity and self-esteem. How do we get rid of guilt? The right way is by renouncing the sinful behavior that makes us feel guilty, and by repenting and seeking forgiveness.

Ann Landers has written, “One of the most painful, self-mutilating, time—and energy-consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt.… It can ruin your day—or your week or your life—if you let it. It turns up like a bad penny when you do something dishonest, hurtful, tacky, selfish, or rotten.… Never mind that it was the result of ignorance, stupidity, laziness, thoughtlessness, weak flesh, or clay feet.

You did wrong and the guilt is killing you. Too bad, but be assured, the agony you feel is normal… Remember guilt is a pollutant and we don’t need any more of it in the world.” In other words, you shouldn’t let yourself feel bad when you do something dishonest, hurtful, tacky, selfish, or rotten. Think of yourself as good, ignorant, stupid, lazy, thoughtless, or weak, perhaps—but good. Don’t pollute your mind with the debilitating thought that you might actually be guilty of sin.

NO GUILT, NO SIN? The Vanishing Conscience:

2 Samuel 12:13. “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.”

In a book that deals with sin and guilt, this phrase, “I have sinned,” occurs only a few times and by fewer individuals. People just don’t want to admit to sinning. David’s sin occurred a year or more before he admitted to it, and only then because Nathan, the Man of God, confronted him with it. I’m sure that his sin had bothered him to a certain extent because he said, “my sin is ever before me” (Psalms 51:3b).

Whatever happened to sin? These days everything wrong with humanity is likely to be explained as an illness. What we used to call sin is more easily diagnosed as a whole array of disabilities. All kinds of immorality and evil conduct are now identified as symptoms of this or that psychological illness. Criminal behavior, various perverse passions, and every imaginable addiction have all been made excusable by the crusade to label them medical afflictions.

We want to pass laws to excuse compulsive gamblers when they embezzle money to gamble and to force insurance companies to pay to treat them. We want to treat people who can’t find love and who instead (when they are women) go after dopey, superficial men or (when they are men) pursue endless sexual liaisons without finding true happiness. And we want to call all these things—and many, many more—addictions.

“Recovery,” the code-word for programs modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, is explicitly marketed as a lifelong program. We’ve grown accustomed to the image of a person who has been sober for forty years standing up in an AA meeting and saying, “I’m Bill, and I’m an alcoholic.” Now all “addicts” are using the same approach—including sex addicts, gambling addicts, nicotine addicts, anger addicts, wife-beating addicts, child-molesting addicts, debt addicts, self-abuse addicts, envy addicts, failure addicts, overeating addicts, or whatever.

People suffering from such maladies are taught to speak of themselves as “recovering,” never “recovered.” Those who dare to think of themselves as delivered from their affliction are told they are living in denial. What is really needed is to admit, “I Am A Sinner And I Have Need Of God In My Life.”

How can we have true self-respect without hearty approval from a healthy conscience? We desperately need to recover the conviction that certain behavior is sinful. (The Vanishing Conscience)


1 Peter 3:16a. “Having a good conscience;”

Ezekiel 18:4b. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

The first step to any truly effective remedy for all mental and emotional afflictions is an honest assessment of one’s own sin and the acceptance of complete responsibility for one’s own moral failings. Most important there is ultimately no help for those who deny responsibility for their own behavior. When professional counselors encourage people to forgive themselves without repenting, what do we expect to become of the conscience?

No matter what problem you suffer from—whether you are a serial murderer or just someone struggling with emotional distress—you can easily find someone who will explain to you why your failing is not your fault, and teach you how to silence a troubled conscience.

From a Biblical perspective, that kind of counsel can be spiritually destructive. It fails to address the real problem of human sinfulness. Those who refuse to acknowledge their sinfulness actually place themselves in bondage to their own guilt.

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [But] if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John1:8–9).

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners! Jesus specifically said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17b).

Where there is no recognition of sin and guilt, when the conscience has been abused into silence, there can be no salvation, no sanctification, and therefore no real freedom from sin’s ruthless power. The conscience is an innate ability to sense right and wrong.

Everyone, even the most unspiritual heathen, has a conscience. The conscience entreats us to do what we believe is right and restrains us from doing what we believe is wrong.

Our ability to sense our own guilt is a tremendous gift from God. He designed the conscience into the very framework of the human soul. It is the automatic warning system that tells us, “Pull up! Pull up!” before we crash and burn.


Romans 2:14. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15. Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”

Paul is saying here that even those Gentile, or heathen, who have not been exposed or are unaware of the laws of God has a built-in inner voice called the conscience that bears witness to a law that God has written in their hearts. The conscience is an innate ability to sense right and wrong. Everyone, even the most unspiritual heathen, has a conscience.

The conscience entreats us to do what we believe is right and restrains us from doing what we believe is wrong. The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God or the law of God. It is a human faculty that judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive.

When we violate our conscience, it condemns us, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace, and even fear. When we follow our conscience, it commands us, bringing joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being, and gladness. It is possible to nullify the conscience through repeated abuse.

Paul spoke of people whose consciences were so twisted that their “glory is in their shame” (Philippians 3:19). Both the mind and the conscience can become so defiled that they cease making distinctions between what is pure and what is impure (Titus 1:15).

After so much violation, the conscience finally falls silent. Morally, those with defiled consciences are left flying blind. The annoying warning signals may be gone, but the danger certainly is not; in fact, the danger is greater than ever. Furthermore, even the most defiled conscience will not remain silent forever.

When we stand in judgment, every person’s conscience will side with God, the Righteous Judge. The worst sin-hardened evildoer will discover before the throne of God that he has a conscience which testifies against him. Listen to your conscience; it may be the last voice you will hear.

Error, human wisdom, and wrong moral influences filling the mind will corrupt or cripple the conscience rendering it ineffective. (The Vanishing Conscience)


Romans 9:1. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.”

The conscience is privy to all our secret thoughts and motives. It is, therefore, a more accurate and more formidable witness in the soul’s courtroom than any external observer. Though it may be hardened, cauterized, or numbed into apparent dormancy, the conscience continues to store up evidence that will one day be used as testimony to condemn the guilty soul.

The conscience reacts to the convictions of the mind and therefore can be encouraged and sharpened in accordance with God’s Word. The wise Christian wants to master biblical truth so that the conscience is completely informed and judges right because it is responding to God’s Word. A daily diet of Scripture strengthens a weak conscience or restrain an overactive one.

Richard Sibbes pictured the conscience as a court in the council of the human heart. “The conscience itself assumes every role in the courtroom drama. It is a register to record what we have done in exact detail (Jeremiah 17:1). It is the accuser that lodges a complaint against us when we are guilty, and a defender to side with us in our innocence (Romans 2:15). It acts as a witness, giving testimony for or against us (2 Corinthians 1:12). It is the judge, condemning or vindicating us (1 John 3:20–21). And it is the executioner, smiting us with grief when our guilt is discovered (1 Samuel 24:5).

We should not sin in hope of concealment. What if thou conceal it from all others, canst thou conceal [it from] thy own conscience? As one saith well, What good is it for thee that none knows what is done, when thou knowest it thyself? What profit is it for him that hath a conscience that will accuse him, that he hath no man to accuse him but himself? He is a thousand witnesses to himself. Conscience is not a private witness. It is a thousand witnesses.

Therefore, never sin in hope to have it concealed. It was better than all men should know it than that thyself should know it. All will be one day written on thy forehead. Conscience will be a blab. If it cannot speak the truth now, though it is bribed in this life, it will have power and efficacy in the life to come… We have the witness in us; and, as Isaiah saith, ‘Our sins witness against us.’ It is in vain to look for secrecy. Conscience will discover all.���”

The writer of Hebrews tells us that the blood of Christ restores the conscience to its original condition as it was before Adam sinned. (The Vanishing Conscience)


By, James L. Thornton

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