Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Power of a Clear Conscience

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. (1 Timothy 1:19 NLT)

The story is told of Mark Twain, who decided to play a practical joke on twelve of his friends. He sent each of them a telegram that read, “Flee at once—all is discovered.” Twain said they all left town immediately.

Now, that is what you call having a guilty conscience.

The conscience is a bit like an alarm. We have car alarms that no one seems to listen to anymore, except when they need to find their car in a parking structure. We also have alarms in our homes. This includes the smoke detectors with batteries that always go bad in the middle of the night.

At that point the only way to stop a detector from chirping is to replace the battery. The temptation, however, is to disable the alarm because we don’t want to listen to it chirp. The same is true with a conscience. We sometimes will try to ignore it or disable it. 

However, if your conscience is working and it reminds you that something you have said or done is wrong, then that is a good thing. It is what we all want. We want a conscience that is tender, a conscience that works properly.

We don’t want to try to disable it. And we certainly don’t want to dull it. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and warned him about people who would fall away in the last days: “These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead” (1 Timothy 4:2 NLT).

God has given everyone a conscience, both believers and nonbelievers. We were born that way. Romans 2:14 points out, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it” (NLT).

However, our consciences are not infallible. In other words, there are times when our consciences might condemn us for something that actually isn’t wrong. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3:20 that “even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything” (NLT).

Therefore, what we need to do is teach our consciences how to function properly. We want to effectively educate our consciences so they will do what they’re supposed to do as designed by God.

We all have our moments when we need to make tough decisions, when we experience a crisis of conscience. Some politicians haven’t made a single decision based on principle for years. Instead, they’ve stood only for whatever will keep them in office. We need fewer politicians and more statesmen today. It has been said that a statesman sees the next generation, while a politician sees the next election.

We see the same thing happen in the business world. People process every decision through the grid of whether it will help them be more powerful and wealthy rather than whether they’re delivering something of quality for the right price. It’s a crisis of conscience.

Listen to your conscience. Don’t let your heart get hard.

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