Acts 23:1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (NKJV)
The term ‘good conscience’ caught my attention last week while I was studying the book of Timothy. I noted how Paul kept emphasizing to Timothy that he has to maintain a clear conscience in order to be able to do his work fruitfully.
Why is the conscience so important and is it important to God?
The conscience is defined as that part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity to our value systems. The Greek word translated “conscience” in all New Testament references is suneidēsis, meaning “moral awareness” or “moral consciousness.” The conscience reacts when one’s actions, thoughts, and words conform to, or are contrary to, a standard of right and wrong. www.gotquestions.org
The word conscience can be found 30 times in the KJV version of the Bible and it is majorly found in the New Testament. The first time it was used was in the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery with people meaning to stone her;
John 8:9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (NKJV)
We can see in the above verse that the conscience served as an internal and personal judge to the people trying to stone her; their conscience judged them guilty! The next time it is used, we see Paul defending himself to a council
Acts 23:1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (NKJV).
This is the first time we see good and conscience used together. I sought out the meaning of good and found that it means; having the required qualities; of a high standard and possessing or displaying moral virtue.
So we can conclude that a good conscience is one that is of a high standard and displays moral virtue. I believe that the conscience is a tool that God uses to help regulate our walk with him, when it is truly surrended to him.
From the review of scriptures where conscience was used, we can learn that;
- Your conscience can get offended and then become bad (Acts 24:16). Offence from people can sometimes hurt us so much that it sort of turns us into a wicked or untrusting person. For instance, a young girl who with her good conscience was in a relationship with a guy and then gets cheated upon with her best friend can develop a hurt and wicked conscience that finds it hard to trust anyone again.
- Your conscience bears you witness to how you follow or disobey the law (Roms 12:5). Your conscience either accuses or approves your actions. (Roms 9:1) Our conscience is that internal judge that tells you stop or okay when you are about to do something. As a child I’m sure a lot of people would agree that when they broke a rule, their conscience nagged them till they were found out.
- Your conscience is shaped by what you know (1 Cor 8:7-12). The conscience is highly impressionable and can be affected by happenings around you. Hurt from a loved one can make your conscience close to love, affection from someone can make your conscience open to love, wrong information about something can make it pass through your conscience without judgement. This is the case of terrorists; their conscience has been fed a belief system that although is wicked and wrong their conscience is informed as truth.
- A good conscience is need for the workings of faith (1Tim 1:5, 1:19) Faith works by love from a good conscience. For you to operate in real faith you need to maintain your conscience in a good and pure state. As an example let’s say you have been trusting God for a mate for about 5 years now and nothing is happening. If you allow the devil or people feed you the lie that God is dead and doesn’t care about you, you would invariable poison your conscience making it difficult to have faith in God for anything again. To have sincere faith, your conscience needs to remain pure before God.
- Your conscience can become seared and non – functional (1 Tim 4:2). Your conscience can go through so much damage that it is damaged and non functional.
- A pure conscience is needed to serve God (2 Tim 1:3)
- The blood of Jesus purges our conscience at salvation ( Heb 9:13-14, 10:22) What can’t the blood of Jesus fix? No matter the current state of your conscience, the blood of Jesus can wipe it clean and begin again.
- You may suffer persecution for your good conscience ( 1 Pt 2:19, 3:16) You know the way people pick on the young boy who can’t hurt a fly? That’s the same way you can be punished for choosing to maintain a pure conscience. When it is noted that no matter what is done to you, you refuse to stop trusting, stop believing and stop doing the right thing; you would be called names and mocked at. Don’t worry, it’s a worthy price to pay.
The apostles ensured they kept a good and pure conscience at all times before God and man and this helped in achieving success in their lives and ministry. I encourage you today to pay more attention to your conscience as a tool of God to regulate your actions. Feed your conscience the right things through the word of God and you would reap the reward of a successful Christian life.
1 John 3: 19 – 22 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.