The Habit of a Good Conscience
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“A conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.”—Acts 24:16
Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either towards God or towards what it regards as the highest, and therefore conscience records differently in different people.
If I am in the habit of steadily facing myself [toward] God, my conscience will always introduce God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offense. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God’s Son that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed, and I “make out” at once “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
God always educates us down to the scruple. Is my ear so keen to hear the tiniest whisper of the Spirit that I know what I should do? “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” He does not come with a voice like thunder; His voice is so gentle that it is easy to ignore it. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, [it’s time to] quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks. At your peril, you allow one thing to obscure your communion with God. Drop it, whatever it is, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.—Oswald Chambers
What is a good conscience?
A good conscience comes from love and faith. Ideally, for a person’s conscience to be good it needs to be based on faith and love. If you have faith in God, then His Truth and commandments (standards), the gospel of Jesus Christ, will be written in your heart. First Timothy 1:5 provides advice on love and faith being the source of a good conscience:
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.”
A good conscience must be lived. It is correct to say that someone is in good conscience if they live up to their conscience’s standards. Living a good conscience based on God’s standards is the best way to live. Acts 23:1 provides advice on how a good conscience should be acted on:
“And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”
The secret of happiness is acting on a good conscience. The secret of happiness is when our conscience lines up with God, and we act on that good conscience. Because our conscience leads us in our day-to-day activities, our conscience is key for us to have God’s eternal joy. By having a good conscience we can act Godly in an ungodly world. 2nd Corinthians 1:12 provides us advice on the joy of a good conscience.
“For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”—From Access-Jesus.com
Keeping a good conscience
Conscience is the knowledge of right and wrong, and a feeling that one should do what is right. Conscience is the guiding voice of God in man.
“The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts.”—Proverbs 20:271
“But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.”—Job 32:8
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”—Isaiah 30:21
Even those who don’t personally know Jesus have a conscience that discerns right from wrong, which the Lord has given to every man.
“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.”—Romans 2:14–15—From Word Topics
Conscience is God’s presence in man
It’s an amazing thing that the world over, in nearly every kind of culture, even in the most remote places, everyone seems to know the difference between right and wrong. They understand and know that certain things are sins, and have laws against them. God’s basic moral standards are pretty universal.
God created man as a free moral agent. He gives each of us the majesty of personal choice to choose between good and evil. The Holy Spirit is faithful and speaks to the hearts of all, telling them when they’re doing wrong. They know the difference between good and evil.
They may not know their Master, the gospel or the truth, the good news of salvation, but they know the difference between right and wrong. “For they, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness.”2
God gives everybody some light, and God is going to judge each one according to how they follow the light He’s given.—David Brandt Berg
Living today with a godly conscience
Someone has said that today is a marvel of opportunity, crucified between two thieves, yesterday and tomorrow! Today, this very day, is one of the most wonderfully precious things you will ever have.
Today you can do some of the things that you’ve been putting off for so long. You can’t do them yesterday and may not have the chance to do them tomorrow, but today is yours! Today you can be the kind of person you always dreamed you’d be “tomorrow.” This is that tomorrow!
You’ve always intended some “tomorrow” to get right with God; this is that tomorrow. Your yesterdays are left with God, and none of their disappointments should be dragged into this day. Tomorrow is still unborn and you shouldn’t borrow from it. Today is yours.
Today is filled with golden opportunities and pregnant with great possibilities! This is the golden tomorrow that you dreamed about yesterday. We bring you this little poem of our own:
Long have I dreamed of some of the things
I’d like to do tomorrow.
Dreamed them and planned them, resolved,
And then discovered to my deep sorrow,
Time would not wait, but moved swiftly on
As I heard my conscience say,
“This is the golden tomorrow
That you dreamed of yesterday.”
There are many things I want to say
To friends I love, tomorrow.
But they’ll have to wait another day
Till more leisure I can borrow.
Thus I delay, until conscience calls,
“See how time’s passing away?
For this is the golden tomorrow
That you dreamed of yesterday.”
So I paused today in my dreaming
To breathe an earnest prayer
To One who has seen all my failing,
To One that I’m sure will care:
God help me each hour to remember,
And every step of the way,
That today is the golden tomorrow
That I dreamed of yesterday.
At times you might read God’s Word and be impressed by the Holy Spirit that you should obey something which is written there, but you say in your heart, “I will, Lord, but not today!” Or God’s still, small voice might speak to you, telling you to draw nigh unto Him, and you say, “Oh, I intend to, Lord, but I’m not ready today; there are some things I’ve got to make right first, I’ve got to get myself ready.” But you can’t get yourself ready; you’re never fit to enter His presence. Only God can get you ready; only He can do that. He says, “Today. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.”—Virginia Brandt Berg
Published on Anchor April 2018. Read by Simon Peterson.
Music by Michael Dooley.