Good Conscience

April 7, 2016


Good Conscience

Acts 24:16

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and [toward] men.

Conscience is defined as what ‘the soul is distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, the prompting being to do the good and shun the bad, commending the one and condemning the other.’  It is the discernment of what we understand and grasp as being right and wrong.  Is the conscience in each individual created the same and hold the same values of right and wrong?  The Bible would suggest that we differ on certain points of morality.  Just as in our faith toward God there should be certain fundamental tenants that are common to all of those who profess Christ, while on other points of doctrine we may differ in opinion and understanding.  An example is in Romans 14 we find that there were obvious contentions and judgments being made because some ate meat and others felt you should be a vegetarian or some worshipped on Saturday and other thought it should only be on Sunday and maybe others thought it should be every day of the week.  There were obviously different perceptions of right and wrong.  Paul lays here a couple of key principles concerning our conscience.  One is that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  If you feel guilty and condemned in what you do, then for you it is wrong and sin to do.  Now your automatic assumption might be that if I feel it is wrong then it is wrong for everybody.  If someone I respect or look up too is doing what I consider and feel is wrong I will probably react in one of two ways.  Either I will condemn and judge him for doing what I feel is wrong or sin, or I will reason that since it is okay for them it is okay for me, even if I feel guilty about it.  Both of those lines of reasoning will cause us to stumble.  Many who may be younger or less understanding of the liberty they have in Christ, still measure all things by the standards of natural laws.  Does that mean those who understand their liberty have a right to exercise their freedom at the expense of making a weaker brother stumble or fall into sin?  Paul teaches that the law of love is the highest law and regardless of our liberty, we will not take advantage of our liberties at the expense of another.   Our conscience should constrain us to do what is healthy and best for others, while at the same time not being brought again under a yoke of bondage.  

Often we use our conscience as the standard of righteousness by which we judge others, condemning or excusing them based solely on our values and interpretation of how things should be.  The Word says we are not the lawgiver or the judge and when we start becoming the judge of others we only end up condemning ourselves.  Romans 2:1-4 says, “1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”  The bottom line is that we are all sinners saved solely by the grace of God and through no goodness or moral uprightness of our own.  Like Paul our objective should be to live by the grace and Spirit of God within us, lives that are of good conscience toward God and man.  We would not desire to do anything that we know would be offensive or cause others to stumble do to our actions or words.  The responsibility we all have is to walk in good conscience, living in the light, not concealing our deeds in darkness and to build up one another and encourage each other in what is right according to the Word of God.  




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