“A man…had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later changed his mind and went. Then, the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he...
I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. Acts 24:16 (NIV)
Conscience gives you the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and desires. It gives you that capacity to discern what is right and wrong, and to distinguish between what is good and what is best.
Without conscience you would be like an animal, acting only on the basis of instinct. Conscience is a wonderful gift from God. It is to be trained, respected, and protected throughout your life.
The English word conscience joins “con” (meaning with) and “science” (meaning knowledge). Conscience is the ability to act with knowledge. The way your conscience functions depends on the knowledge that you are working with.
To help us get a handle on conscience and how it functions think about an alarm clock. A good alarm clock does two things: It stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up!
That’s how your conscience is supposed to work. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). When you are on the right path a good conscience will be at peace. But when you are tempted toward the wrong path a good conscience will sound the alarm.
The problem with conscience is that, like every other part of your soul, it has been disordered by sin. Similar to an alarm clock, your conscience can malfunction in two ways: It can make noise when it should be silent, or it can be silent when it should be making noise.
Can you think of any specific instances when your conscience has malfunctioned?