Our guest blogger today is Pastor Tim Jones, Youth Pastor of Camden Crossroads Community Church and my friend. You can listen to the podcast here.
Hebrews 10:19-25 says, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
The conscience is a topic, or even a word I should say, that God has shown me in scripture for the past several months. It is intriguing, and caused me to look deeper in scripture. Scripture being the place to look, the authority that God gave us. There many schools of thought and seems that everyone has their opinion. A mind is something that we all have, but sometimes, we can seem out of our minds and I know there’s someone that you instantly thought of just now! A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but I challenge you this morning to take it further, your conscience is a terrible thing to waste.
Conscience and conviction of right and wrong. We know that we are not perfect, our thoughts can be deceiving and our actions follow our thoughts unless we subject them to do what is right. So what is right? Can it be easily defined?
The first couple of things when I think of the word right is righteous or righteousness which we know we cannot obtain by ourselves. Rom. 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, not even one.” The second thing I think about the graphic, super-brutal book of Judges where it repeatedly says that when there was no king in Israel, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The Old Testament was pretty cut and dry on what was right; to follow the Law which the Lord gave us. You are more familiar with the 10 Commandments and probably less familiar with other parts of the Law. In the New Testament Jesus simplified it for us when he was asked what the greatest commandment in the law. In Matt. 22 He answered, “Love the Lord God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. And the 2nd greatest, “To Love your neighbor as yourself.” Of course we know that sin taints our very being that God created and sin is doing something contrary to God’s instruction. James also points out in chapter 4, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin.” By our nature we make excuses, rationalize things, and justify our thoughts and behavior based on circumstance and our feelings at the time. And our conscience has a weakness when we do not base our morals on God’s Word. Adam and Eve after the act of disobedience of not eating of that one specific tree hid in the garden and covered themselves.
One movie that has forever stuck with me, ironically called The Machinist, is about a guy that crazy things start happening to, seeing people that aren’t there, because the cause of accidents because he isn’t focused. And the end of the movie, it is his conscience eating away at him for a drunk driving hit and run in which someone died. David, when given the opportunity to kill Saul, cut the edge of his garment. We read in 1 Sam. 24:5, “Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.” In the secular worldview, the conscience is merely shaped by society and influence from your adolescence. We believe and stand on self-defense or at least I know that I do. We can probably clearly see that David had every right to go after and defeat Saul because Saul was after him. But David, described as a man after God’s heart, knew there is much more than just worldly wisdom and worldly conscience. We read in the next verse why David had a troubled heart. 1 Sam. 24:6 says, “And he said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.’” Our conscience before God is how we know we should live and even think for it to all be to his glory. As sinful creatures, we cannot do this without the Lord. We cannot attain heaven and we cannot live His way on earth. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” Notice the trend when it talks about your conscience? It’s being transformed as you’ve heard it that God changes your heart, and that He continually transforms our minds as we seek Him.
- 1 Pet. 3:21: “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
- Heb. 9:9-10: “Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.”
- Heb. 9:13-14: “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
God transforms our conscience and to live as God calls us to live is having a clear conscience. Heb. 13:8 says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.” Paul and other writers of the Bible say numerous times about the conscience. In Acts 23:1 Paul speaks about a perfectly good conscience before God. In Romans Paul speaks about his conscience testifying with him in the Holy Spirit. In 1 Tim. of having a pure heart from a good conscience and from sincere faith. In 1 Tim. 3, Paul holds to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience and serves the Lord with a clear conscience in 2 Tim 1.
A conscience before God is that relationship with Him and honestly aiming to make Daddy proud. This is what David knew when he cut Saul’s robe. It is ultimately so that God may receive glory and that there may be others that follow after God. We and how we love have an influence, an example for others to see. Their thoughts and view may be based on how we live. Heb. 13:18 again says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.” We have liberties in not following a code like the Law in the OT, but let’s not do something just because we can, because others could be looking. Phil. 2:3 tells us to, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” This isn’t just a do to others as you’d like done to you, this is hey, get over yourself and serve God for the sake of other people and their hell-bound souls. Missionary Jim Elliott was called to minister to the South American tribe of the Auca Indians now known as Waorani. Instead of killing them when they attacked, he laid down his life. This act of devotion to Christ later led the Indians to understand and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He couldn’t defend himself because of his conscious.
There is also a conscience for others. 1 Pet. 3:16 tells us to, “Keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” I used to read that verse and be like, ha ha, the accuser got owned! Yeah! But what Peter previously talked about in 2:12, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Your example, as others see, even your enemies, may be an example to lead others to the Lord.
Our conscience is not an easy thing to understand. The knowledge of right and wrong is continually being distorted in our sinful world like the shifting shadows day after day. But let us hold to the truth, not the sorry excuse for worldly truth, but the truth that never fails. The constant that God never changes so our conscience should be based on God’s instruction to us. As a result, our relationship with Him can be continually evaluated and He can continue to grow us. Our obedience is commanded, is necessary, and is even desirable for us our relationship with God. Let us not forget about living for God and our testimony to others by what they see. Does it back up what we say about ourselves? That’s another thing to continually evaluate.
In all of this, our conscience is a terrible thing to waste.