III. The Importance of the Conscience
There is a profoundly important reason why every Christian should seek to have a clear conscience before God and man. It is simply this: a guilty conscience destroys boldness – Proverbs 28:1, The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion. A guilty conscience causes people to feel shame, and the result of shame is a lack of boldness before God and before man. Think back to Adam and Eve. The moment their consciences were sounding the alarm bells, they
hid. They hid from God. When our consciences are bothering us, we usually do not approach God, we avoid prayer, we avoid the Word, and we may avoid fellowship with other Christians. Or think of how Jesus described the actions of the guilty towards the light: John 3:19-20 – And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
A guilty conscience robs us of boldness before God. A clear conscience on the other hand, gives us confidence before God: 1 John 3:21 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God: Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. When you are uncomfortable in the presence of God, when you struggle to be quiet before Him, when you are restless and edgy in prayer; look to see if your conscience is not sounding an alarm. Not only does a guilty conscience rob us of boldness before God, it robs us of boldness before men. One of the reasons why so few men have any moral boldness any longer is because their consciences shame them into silence. They are filled with guilt over their greed, their laziness, their neglect of their homes, their pornography, their lust, their spiritual sloth, that they can barely maintain eye-contact with other men, let alone lead.
They will not rebuke sin in another person when they see it, for they are walking around with un-confessed sin themselves. There is a beam in their own eye; they know they must remove it before dealing with the speck in another’s. But rather than dealing with the beam, like Jesus told us to, they live with it, and simply avoid helping others with their specks. That is why there is so little one-on-one rebuke, admonition and encouragement, because men have become spiritual jellyfish due to their guilty consciences. Paul says in Galatians 6 that it is to be those who are spiritual that are to restore those overcome in a sin. The problem is, there are so many overcome with a sin, and remaining there, that few are bold enough to help others out of theirs. The same is true of evangelism. The reason why so few speak up for the name of Jesus, why so few boldly tell others about Jesus, is because they are ashamed. Not necessarily of Jesus; they are ashamed to name Jesus because of their un-confessed sin. Romans 1:16 – they are ashamed to bring a message of repentance to others when they know they are not responding to the calls to repent from their own conscience. Peter tells us we are to be able to speak to others with a clear conscience: 1 Peter 3:15-16 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they
defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
Consider Paul’s testimony:
Acts 24:16 – This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men; 2 Timothy 1:3 – I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I
remember you in my prayers night and day; 2 Corinthians 1:12 – For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
What would be the difference in our individual walks with God if we had clear consciences? How would it change our prayer life, our devotions? How would it change our boldness to disciple one another, to correct our children, to call sin what it is? How would it change our witness and
1 Timothy 1:5 – Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. The whole Christian life is to be love for God from a pure and sincere heart out of a good conscience. The conscience watches and afflicts us. The conscience is informed by our sources of moral information and by our actions. A clear conscience is necessary to have boldness before God and man. So, in light of all this, how does God tell us to clear our consciences? What does the Bible tell us to do to have pure and clean consciences before Him?
– David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa