Conscience

Conscience has been succinctly described as the "soul distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter."

Webster defines conscience as the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.

In addition to an innate awareness of God’s law, men have a warning system that activates when they choose to ignore or disobey that law. It's that instinctive, built-in sense of right and wrong that activates guilt.

All mankind has an innate inner sense of right and wrong which Scripture refers to as conscience. And so sociologist have encountered in all cultures a sense of sin and fear of judgment which leads that culture to make some attempt to appease whatever gods are feared and this built in "moral/ethical radar detector" (so to speak) is what Paul is alludes to in Romans 2.

Conscience is like a sundial
When the truth of God shines on it,
It points in the right direction.

Where is your "sundial" pointing today dear reader?

Conscience is a trustworthy compass when God's Word is your true north.

A good conscience is one of the best friends you'll ever have.

To ignore your conscience is to invite trouble.

Conscience is a safe guide when guided by God's Word.

A clear conscience is a soft pillow.

If God’s Word guides your conscience, let your conscience be your guide.

If you can't hear God speaking, check the volume control of your conscience.

F F Bruce - Paul uses conscience (and perhaps he was the first to do so) in the sense of an independent witness within, which examines and passes judgment on one’s conduct. In Christians this examination and judgment should be specially accurate because their conscience is enlightened by the Holy Spirit (cf. Ro 9:1).

John MacArthur recounts an interesting illustration of the human conscience - It is reported that a tribe in Africa had an unusual but effective way to test the guilt of an accused person. A group of suspects would be lined up and the tongue of each would be touched with a hot knife. If saliva was on the tongue the blade would sizzle but cause little pain. But if the tongue was dry, the blade would stick and create a vicious, searing burn. The tribe knew that a sense of guilt tends to make a person’s mouth dry, and a seared tongue therefore was taken as proof of guilt. The making of such a dry mouth is, of course, the work of the conscience. (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press)

Pritchard offers a hypothetical illustration - This week I read an ancient tale about a court magician who wanted to give his king a very special gift. After much work, he designed a magic ring which had a very special property. Every time the king had an evil thought or an unworthy ambition, the ring began to shrink tightly around his finger, thus warning him of impending danger. The human conscience is like that. It is a ring around the heart, which tightens every time we begin to violate our own standards. It warns of impending danger. We disregard our conscience at our own peril. And, Paul says, every man has a conscience, a "ring around the heart." No one can say, "I've never done wrong," because every man has violated his conscience at least once, and most of us many times. That's why God can fairly judge the Gentiles. The law "written in their hearts" will be the standard by which they will be judged. Their guilty consciences will one day rise up to condemn them." (Romans 2:1-16: Mr. I.M. Okay Meets His Maker)

Conscience is like an inner judge that accuses and condemns us when we have done wrong and approves and commends us when we have done right. The conscience varies in sensitivity, depending on the degree of one’s knowledge of and feeling about right and wrong. The person who has considerable knowledge of God’s Word will have a more sensitive conscience than someone who has never had opportunity to know Scripture. Furthermore, repeated sinning hardens the conscience so that it becomes “seared” like scar tissue (1Ti 4:2). To continually reject God’s truth causes the conscience to become progressively calloused, hardened and less sensitive to sin, as if covered with layers of unspiritual scar tissue. There is an interesting parallel in tropical medicine which has discovered that the gross disfigurement so commonly seen in individuals with leprosy is not due to the leprosy bacterium per se, but is secondary to the organism's destruction of the nerve fibers that convey a sense of pain and touch. Unprotected by the body's natural warning signals the leper repeatedly injures the extremity with cuts, burns, infections, etc, all without even realizing that he is injured! This is exactly the picture of the seared conscience which becomes insensitive to sin and may eventually cease sending warning signals. Thus, though God has His work within every man resulting in conscience, man can corrupt that work, so that the "sin sensitivity" rating of the conscience varies from person to person.

Conscience (4893) (suneidesis is derived from sun/syn = with + eido = know) literally means a "knowing with", a co-knowledge with oneself or a being of one's own witness in the sense that one's own conscience "takes the stand" as the chief witness, testifying either to one's innocence or guilt. It describes the witness borne to one's conduct by that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God.

The Greek noun suneidesis is the exact counterpart of the Latin con-science, “a knowing with,” a shared or joint knowledge. It is our awareness of ourselves in all the relationships of life, especially ethical relationships. We have ideas of right and wrong; and when we perceive their truth and claims on us, and will not obey, our souls are at war with themselves and with the law of God

Suneidesis is that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting to do the former and avoid the latter.

Gilbrant on suneidesis in Classical Greek - Formally a compound made up of sun (4713), “with, together,” and eidēsis, “knowledge,” suneidēsis (cf. the parent verb sunoida [4774]) means “knowledge, communication, information.” Sometimes the term occurs in legal contexts of witnesses who share testimony. In a second, reflexive sense, suneidēsis signifies “consciousness” (in a neutral sense) and from that it means “inner consciousness,” i.e., “conscience.” “Conscience” particularly carries moral implications; it is a “knowledge” of right from wrong (Liddell-Scott; cf. Maurer, “suneidēsis,” Kittel, 7:898-902). Maurer concludes that suneidēsis as “conscience” generally has a negative nuance, because self-examination usually results in condemnation (ibid., 7:900). This is especially true among pre-Christian Greek authors, although Roman writers might speak of a “good” or “clear” conscience (Hahn, “Conscience,” Colin Brown, 1:348f.). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Suneidesis - 30x in 29v in NAS - conscience(24), conscience'(4), consciences(1), consciousness(1).

Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; Rom. 2:15; Rom. 9:1; Rom. 13:5; 1 Co. 8:7; 1 Co. 8:10; 1 Co. 8:12; 1 Co. 10:25; 1 Co. 10:27; 1 Co. 10:28; 1 Co. 10:29; 2 Co. 1:12; 2 Co. 4:2; 2 Co. 5:11; 1 Tim. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:19; 1 Tim. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:2; 2 Tim. 1:3; Tit. 1:15; Heb. 9:9; Heb. 9:14; Heb. 10:2; Heb. 10:22; Heb. 13:18; 1 Pet. 2:19; 1 Pet. 3:16; 1 Pet. 3:21

Only use in Septuagint - Eccl 10:20NET  Do not curse a king even in your thoughts (Lxx = sunedesis) - English of Septuagint = Even in thy conscience, curse not the king;

Related Resources:

To have a "clear conscience" does not mean that we have never sinned or do not commit acts of sin. Rather, it means that the underlying direction and motive of life is to obey and please God, so that acts of sin are habitually recognized as such and faced before God (1Jn 1:9, cp David's attitude Ps 139:23 24, cp Ps 19:13-note) Spurgeon commenting on these passages in Ps 139 says…

He (David) will have God Himself search him, and search him thoroughly, till every point of his being is known, and read, and understood; for he is sure that even by such an investigation there will be found in him no complicity with wicked men. He challenges the fullest investigation, the innermost search: he had need be a true man who can put himself deliberately into such a crucible. Yet we may each one desire such searching; for it would be a terrible calamity to us for sin to remain in our hearts unknown and undiscovered.

Try me, and know my thoughts. Exercise any and every test upon me. By fire and by water let me be examined. Read not alone the desires of my heart, but the fugitive thoughts of my head. Know with all penetrating knowledge all that is or has been in the chambers of my mind. What a mercy that there is one being who can know us to perfection! He is intimately at home with us. He is graciously inclined towards us, and is willing to bend His omniscience to serve the end of our sanctification. Let us pray as David did, and let us be as honest as he. We cannot hide our sin: salvation lies the other way, in a plain discovery of evil, and an effectual severance from it.

And see if there be any wicked way in me. See whether there be in my heart, or in my life, any evil habit unknown to myself (Ed: cp a "clean conscience"). If there be such an evil way, take me from it, take it from me. No matter how dear the wrong may have become, nor how deeply prejudiced I may have been in its favour, be pleased to deliver me therefrom altogether, effectually, and at once, that I may tolerate nothing which is contrary to thy mind. As I hate the wicked in their way, so would I hate every wicked way in myself.

And lead me in the way everlasting. If thou hast introduced me already to the good old way, be pleased to keep me in it, and conduct me further and further along it. It is a way which thou hast set up of old, it is based upon everlasting principles, and it is the way in which immortal spirits will gladly run for ever and ever. There will be no end to it world without end. It lasts for ever, and they who are in it last for ever. Conduct me into it, O Lord, and conduct me throughout the whole length of it. By thy providence, by thy word, by thy grace, and by thy Spirit, lead me evermore.

Think and be careful what thou art within,
For there is sin in the desire of sin:
Think and be thankful, in a different case,
For there is grace in the desire of grace.
--John Byron, 1691-1763.

Dwight Edwards explains that "A "clear conscience" consists in being able to say that there is no one (God or man) whom I have knowingly offended and not tried to make it right (either by asking forgiveness or restoration or both). ). Acts 24:16. Christ spoke of this very issue in the Sermon on the Mount where He made it clear that our priestly service must be done with a clear conscience to be acceptable before God. "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift." Mt. 5:23 24 25-note. We are being told here that a clear conscience must precede priestly service. (2 Timothy Call to Completion)

Paul wanted Timothy to have no doubt that he endured his present physical afflictions, as he had countless others, because of his unswerving faithfulness to the Lord, not as a consequence of unfaithful, ungodly living. So as Paul neared his death, he could testify that his conscience did not accuse or condemn him. His guilt was forgiven, and his devotion was undivided. To continually reject God’s truth causes the conscience to become progressively less sensitive to sin, as if covered with layers of unspiritual scar tissue. Paul’s conscience was clear, sensitive, & responsive to its convicting voice. Click on the books below to study the NT picture of conscience.

Conscience is like a window that let's in the light. When the window becomes soiled, the light gradually becomes darkness. Once conscience is defiled (Titus 1:15-note), it gradually gets worse, and eventually it may be so "seared" that it has no sensitivity at all (1Ti 4:2). Then it becomes an "evil conscience" (He 10:22-note), one that functions just the opposite of a good conscience (1Pe 3:16-note).

J C Ryle in his comments on a woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11) speaks of

The power of conscience. We read of the woman's accusers, that when they heard our Lord's appeal, "being convicted by their own conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even into the last." Wicked and hardened as they were, they felt something within which made them cowards. Fallen as human nature is, God has taken care to leave within every man a witness that will be heard.

Conscience is a most important part of our inward man, and plays a most prominent part in our spiritual history. It cannot save us. It never yet led any one to Christ. It is blind, and liable to be misled. It is lame and powerless, and cannot guide us to heaven. Yet conscience is not to be despised. It is the minister's best friend, when he stands up to rebuke sin from the pulpit. It is the mother's best friend, when she tries to restrain her children from evil and quicken them to good. It is the teacher's best friend, when he presses home on boys and girls their moral duties. Happy is he who never stifles his conscience, but strives to keep it tender! Still happier is he who prays to have it enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and sprinkled with Christ's blood. (John - chapter 8)

(Ryle in "Looking Unto Jesus") We need inward peace. So long as our conscience is asleep, deadened by indulged sin, or dulled and stupefied by incessant pursuit of the things of this world—so long can that man get on tolerably well without peace with God. But once let conscience open its eyes, and shake itself, and rise, and move—and it will make the stoutest child of Adam feel ill at ease. The irrepressible thought that this life is not all—that there is a God, and a judgment, and a something after death, an undiscovered destiny from which no traveler returns—that thought will come up at times in every man's mind, and make him long for inward peace.

It is easy to write brave words about "eternal hope," and strew the path to the grave with flowers. Such theology is naturally popular: the world loves to have it so. But after all, there is something deep down in the heart of hearts of most men, which must be satisfied. The strongest evidence of God's eternal truth, is the universal conscience of mankind. Who is there among us all, who can sit down and think over the days that are past—school days, and college days, and days of middle life, their countless things left undone that ought to have been done, and done that ought not to have been done—who, I say, can think over it all without shame, if indeed he does not turn from the review with disgust and terror, and refuse to think at all? We all need peace. (Ryle Looking Unto Jesus!)

(Ryle in "Without Christ") Moreover, to be "without Christ" is to be without peace. Every man has a conscience within him, which must be satisfied before he can be truly happy. So long as this conscience is asleep or half dead, so long, no doubt, he gets along pretty well. But as soon as a man’s conscience wakes up, and he begins to think of past sins and present failings and future judgment, at once he finds out that he needs something to give him inward rest. But what can do it? Repenting and praying and Bible reading, and church going, and sacrament receiving, and self–mortification may be tried, and tried in vain. They never yet took off the burden from anyone’s conscience. And yet peace must be had!

There is only one thing can give peace to the conscience, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled on it. A clear understanding that Christ’s death was an actual payment of our debt to God, and that the merit of that death is made over to man when he believes, is the grand secret of inward peace. It meets every craving of conscience. It answers every accusation. It calms every fear. It is written "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace." "He is our peace." "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jn 16:33; Eph 2:14; Ro 5:1). We have peace through the blood of His cross: peace like a deep mine—peace like an ever–flowing stream. But "without Christ" we are without peace. (Without Christ)

J C Philpot writes that there can be

there is a receiving of the gospel as the word of men into the natural CONSCIENCE; for there is a natural conscience as well as a spiritual conscience. This is very evident from the language of the apostle when speaking of the Gentiles–

"Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or excusing one another." (Ro 2:15.)

And do we not read of those in the case of the woman taken in adultery, who were

"convicted by their own conscience, and went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last." (Jn 8:9.)

The apostle also speaks of

"commending himself to every man's conscience, in the sight of God." (2Co 4:2.)

Now as he preached to thousands, he could not have done this unless there was a conscience in every man, as well as in every good man. Scarcely anything seems to approach the work of grace so nearly as this; and yet we see in the cases of Saul, Ahab, and Herod, that there may be the deepest convictions of conscience and yet no saving conversion to God. Thus there is a receiving the gospel into the natural conscience, producing moral convictions, and a work that seems at first sight to bear a striking similarity to the work of God upon the soul; and yet the whole may be a mere imitation of grace, a movement of nature floating upon the surface of the mind, and at times touching upon the domain of conscience, yet not springing out of the word of God as brought with a divine power into the heart. (The Word of Men and the Word of God)

Archibald Alexander - Peace of conscience is a fruit of reconciliation with God. The blood which reconciles, when sprinkled on the conscience, produces a sweet peace which can be obtained in no other way. If the atonement of Christ satisfies the law which condemned us, and we are assured that this atonement is accepted for us, conscience, which before condemned, as being the echo of the law, is now pacified. (The Peace of God)

John Calvin - The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul… There is no greater torment than an evil conscience.

See excellent message by Adrian Rogers - A Clean Conscience

Timothy Lin - In the mid 1950’s near Ashville, NC, an adult male walked into the police station and openly confessed to a murder he had committed 13 years earlier. He gave the deceased person’s name and related to the authorities how he had murdered this person by shooting him in the back of the head with an arrow. The police reviewed his story from their files and found that the local coroner had ruled the deceased man’s death to be from natural causes. However, when they dug up the dead man’s remains, they found a hole in the base of his skull made by an arrow. The murderer was brought to justice, not by the police, but by his own conscience… At the Children’s Hospital seven-year-old Jimmy was a constant troublemaker. One day a weekly visitor who knew him well said to him, “Jimmy, if you are a good boy for a week, I will give you a quarter when I come back.” A week later she again stood by Jimmy’s bed and said, “Jimmy, I am not going to ask the nurse how you have behaved. You must tell me yourself. Do you deserve to have the quarter?” There was a moment’s silence. Then from under the sheets came a small voice saying, “Gimme a penny.” This illustrates that conscience speaks very clearly even in small children, (Conscience: The Voice of God Within - {I'm not sure I fully agree with all his points - Be a Berean} - Lin has more on conscience on page 50-54 in Genesis - Biblical Theology)

Kenneth Osbeck writes that "The conscience has been described as the “rudder of the soul” or the believer’s “principle within.” One of the prime responsibilities of Christian living is to keep the conscience clear as to the things of God so that we might live worthy lives before our fellowmen. But the conscience must be continually enlightened and developed by an exposure to God’s Word if it is to serve as a reliable guide for our lives. A conscience that is allowed to become hardened and insensitive to sin will ultimately lead to spiritual and moral disaster. We must allow God to develop our consciences and then our consciences are able to develop us. (Osbeck, K. W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications)

I Want a Principle Within
by Charles Wesley (Play hymn)

I want a principle within of watchful, Godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, a pain to feel it near.
Help me the first approach to feel of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wand’ring of my will and quench the Spirit’s fire.

From Thee that I no more may stray, no more Thy goodness grieve,
Grant me the filial awe, I pray, the tender conscience give.
Quick as the apple of an eye, O God, my conscience make!
Awake my soul when sin is nigh and keep it still awake.

Almighty God of truth and love, to me Thy pow’r impart;
The burden from my soul remove, the hardness from my heart.
O may the least omission pain my reawakened soul,
And drive me to that grace again which makes the wounded whole.

Conscience is the judgment which we pronounce on our own conduct by putting ourselves in the place of a bystander. (Adam Smith)

Here are a number of truisms regarding conscience all from anonymous sources…

  • A good conscience is a soft pillow.
  • A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder.
  • Conscience warns us as a friend before it punishes us as a judge.
  • The best tranquillizer is a clear conscience.
  • When a man says he has a clear conscience it often means he has a bad memory.
  • When a man won't listen to his conscience, it may be because he doesn't want advice from a total stranger.
  • When you have only one thing on your conscience, it is probably a silencer.
  • A guilty conscience is a hell on earth, and points to one beyond.
  • A guilty conscience needs no accuser.
  • Quite often when a man thinks his mind is getting broader it is only his conscience stretching.
  • (John Blanchard - Complete Gathered Gold: A Treasury of Quotations for Christians  - One of the best resources for Christian quotes which I have ever read)

John MacArthur tells a tragic story to illustrating the grave danger of suppressing our conscience:

In 1984 an Avianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The "black box" cockpit recorders revealed that several minutes before impact a shrill, computer-synthesized voice from the plane's automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly in English, "Pull up! Pull up!"

The pilot, evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped, "Shut up, Gringo!" and switched the system off. Minutes later the plane plowed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board died.

When I saw that tragic story on the news shortly after it happened, it struck me as a perfect parable of the way modern people treat guilt--the warning messages of their consciences.

The wisdom of our age says guilt feelings are nearly always erroneous or hurtful; therefore we should switch them off. But is that good advice? What, after all, is the conscience--this sense of guilt we all seem to feel?

The conscience is generally seen by the modern world as a defect that robs people of their self-esteem. Far from being a defect or a disorder, however, your ability to sense your own guilt is a tremendous gift from God. He designed the conscience into the very framework of the human soul. It is the automatic warning system that cries, "Pull up! Pull up!" before you crash and burn.

The conscience, Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote in the seventeenth century, is the soul reflecting upon itself. Conscience is at the heart of what distinguishes the human creature. People, unlike animals, can contemplate their own actions and make moral self-evaluations. That is the very function of conscience.

The conscience is an innate ability to sense right and wrong. Everyone, even the most unspiritual heathen, has a conscience: “When Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Rom. 2:14–15, emphasis added).

The conscience entreats us to do what we believe is right and restrains us from doing what we believe is wrong. The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God or the law of God. It is a human faculty that judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive. When we violate our conscience, it condemns us, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace, and even fear. When we follow our conscience, it commends us, bringing joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being, and gladness.

The word conscience is a combination of the Latin words scire (“to know”) and con (“together”). The Greek word for “conscience” is found more than thirty times in the New Testament—suneidēsis, which also literally means “co-knowledge.” Conscience is knowledge together with oneself; that is, conscience knows our inner motives and true thoughts. Conscience is above reason and beyond intellect. We may rationalize, trying to justify ourselves in our own minds, but a violated conscience will not be easily convinced.

 Multitudes today respond to their conscience by attempting to suppress it, overrule it, or silence it.

The Hebrew word for conscience is leb, (see also lebab) usually translated “heart” in the Old Testament. The conscience is so much at the core of the human soul that the Hebrew mind did not draw a distinction between conscience and the rest of the inner person. Thus when Moses recorded that Pharaoh “hardened his heart” (Exod. 8:15), he was saying that Pharaoh had steeled his conscience against God’s will. When Scripture speaks of a tender heart (cf. 2 Chr. 34:27), it refers to a sensitive conscience. The “upright in heart” (Ps. 7:10) are those with pure consciences. And when David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10), he was seeking to have his life and his conscience cleansed.....
Multitudes today respond to their conscience by attempting to suppress it, overrule it, or silence it. They conclude that the real blame for their wrong behavior lies in some childhood trauma, the way their parents raised them, societal pressures, or other causes beyond their control. Or they convince themselves that their sin is a clinical problem, not a moral one—and therefore define their alcoholism, sexual perversion, immorality, or other vices as “diseases.” To respond to the conscience with such arguments is tantamount to telling the conscience, “Shut up, Gringo!”
It is possible virtually to nullify the conscience through repeated abuse. Paul spoke of people whose consciences were so convoluted that their “glory is in their shame” (Phil. 3:19; cf. Rom. 1:32). Both the mind and the conscience can become so defiled that they cease making distinctions between what is pure and what is impure (cf. Tit. 1:15). After so much violation, the conscience finally falls silent. Morally, those with defiled consciences are left flying blind. The annoying warning signals may be gone, but the danger certainly is not; in fact, the danger is greater than ever.
Furthermore, even the most defiled conscience will not remain silent forever. When we stand in judgment, every person’s conscience will side with God, the righteous judge. The worst sin-hardened evildoer will discover before the throne of God that he has a conscience which testifies against him.
The conscience, however, is not infallible. Nor is it a source of revelation about right and wrong. Its role is not to teach us moral and ethical ideals, but to hold us accountable to the highest standards of right and wrong we know. The conscience is informed by tradition as well as by truth, so the standards it holds us to are not necessarily biblical ones (1 Cor. 8:6–9). The conscience can be needlessly condemning in areas where there is no biblical issue. In fact, it can try to hold us to the very thing the Lord is trying to release us from (Rom. 14:14, 20–23). The conscience, to operate fully and in accord with true holiness, must be informed by the Word of God. So even when guilt feelings don’t have a biblical basis, they are an important spiritual distress sign. If they’re only signaling a weak conscience, that should spur us to seek the spiritual growth that would bring our conscience more in harmony with God’s Word.
The conscience reacts to the convictions of the mind and therefore can be encouraged and sharpened in accordance with God’s Word. The wise Christian wants to master biblical truth so that the conscience is completely informed and judges right because it is responding to God’s Word. A regular diet of Scripture will strengthen a weak conscience or restrain an overactive one. Conversely, error, human wisdom, and wrong moral influences filling the mind will corrupt or cripple the conscience.
In other words, the conscience functions like a skylight, not a light bulb. It lets light into the soul; it does not produce its own. Its effectiveness is determined by the amount of pure light we expose it to, and by how clean we keep it. Cover it or put it in total darkness and it ceases to function. That’s why the apostle Paul spoke of the importance of a clear conscience (1 Tim. 3:9) and warned against anything that would defile or muddy the conscience (1 Cor. 8:7; Tit. 1:15).
Or, to switch metaphors, our conscience is like the nerve endings in our fingertips. Its sensitivity to external stimuli can be damaged by the buildup of callouses or even wounded so badly as to be virtually impervious to any feeling. Paul also wrote of the dangers of a calloused conscience (1 Cor. 8:10), a wounded conscience (v. 12), and a seared conscience (1 Tim. 4:2). (from his book which is recommended - The Vanishing Conscience - 2005 - one wonders what he would title it in 2016 - perhaps "Gone Conscience!")(See John MacArthur's full article "The Conscience Revisited")

Conscience is a dainty, delicate creature, a rare piece of workmanship of the Maker. Keep it whole without a crack, for if there be but one hole so that it break, it will with difficulty mend again. (S. Rutherford)

The Christian can never find a “more faithful adviser, a more active accuser, a severer witness, a more impartial judge, a sweeter comforter, or a more inexorable enemy.” (Bp. Sanderson.)

A gnawing conscience keeps the memory terribly alert. (W. E. Sangster)

Conscience in everything: — Trust that man in nothing who has not a conscience in everything. (Sterne)

Conscience is the still small voice that makes you feel still smaller. (James A. Sanaker)

Conscience makes cowards of us; but conscience makes saints and heroes too. (J. Lightfoot)

Conscience is a marvelous gift from God, the window that lets in the light of His truth. If we sin against Him deliberately, that window becomes dirty, and not as much truth can filter through. Eventually, the window becomes so dirty that it no longer lets in the light. The Bible calls this a defiled, seared conscience… Do you keep a clean conscience? It is a part of your inner being that responds to God's truth. When you sin, the window of your conscience becomes dirty and filters out truth. Avoid sin in your life and live with a clean conscience. Every day feed yourself truth from the Word of God. (Wiersbe, W: Prayer, Praise and Promises: Ps 51:3-6)

  • Hurt not your conscience with any known sin. - S. Rutherford
  • Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do.
  • When there is any debate, quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks.
  • Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a “necessary evil,” it begins to look more and more necessary and less and less evil. - Sidney J. Harris
  • Conscience is God’s spy and man’s overseer. -John Trapp
  • A good conscience and a good confidence go together. -- Thomas Brooks
  • Conscience is a small, still voice that makes minority reports. -- Franklin P. Jones
  • Conscience is also what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does.
  • Pop used to say about the Presbyterians, 'It don't prevent them committing all the sins there are, but it keeps them from getting any fun but of it.' - Christopher Morley
  • A good conscience is able to bear very much and is very cheerful in adversities.  An evil conscience is always fearful  and unquiet.  Never rejoice except when you have done well. You  shall rest sweetly if your heart does not accuse you.
  • Sinners never have true joy or feel inward peace, because ‘there is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord (Isaiah 57:21). 
  • The glory of the good is in their consciences, and not in the tongues of others,  The gladness of the just is of God, and in God; and their joy is of the truth.
  • A person will easily be content and pacified whose conscience is pure.  If you consider what you are within, you will not care what others say concerning you. People consider the deeds, but  God weighs the intentions.
  • “Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do.
  • (Conscience) is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what it regards as the highest authority.
  • If I am in the habit of steadily facing 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.
  • “The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside.
  • When there is any debate, quit.  There is no debate possible when conscience speaks.
  • As someone else has said, “She won’t listen to her conscience. She doesn’t want to take advice from a total stranger.”  Bob Goddard, 
  • The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed in two ways: by a change of life or by a change of conscience. Leo Tolstoy
  • Conscience tells us that we ought to do right, but it does not tell us what right is—that we are taught by God’s word. H.C. Trumbull
  • What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after. - Ernest Hemingway (WRONG!!!)

The late General Omar Bradley was more serious in commenting on conscience "The world has achieved brilliance without conscience," he conceded. "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants."

Troubled Conscience -  A man consulted a doctor, “I’ve been misbehaving, Doc, and my conscience is troubling me,” he complained. “And you want something that will strengthen your willpower?” asked the doctor.  “Well, no,” said the fellow. “I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience.” Bits & Pieces, May 27, 1993, Page 21

The Highest - Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that 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 toward God or toward what it regards as the highest authority. If I am in the habit of steadily facing 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.  The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks. - Oswald Chambers -  Source unknown

Bruce Weinstein is known as “The Ethics Guy.” His books and seminars challenge people to make choices based on principle rather than convenience or self-interest. In his business workshops, he often asks the participants, “Why should we be ethical?” He says that most responses center on the benefits of honesty and morality—avoiding punishment and having a clear conscience. While acknowledging that there are long-term benefits, Weinstein emphasizes doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Your heart and conscience cannot safely guide,
For they are darkened by the sin inside;
But if you want to have a picture true,
The Word of God will mirror what is you. —Hess

The Bible will tell you what is wrong before you have done it! —D.L. Moody

Morally Handicapped -  The haunting story of fourteen-year-old Rod Matthews serves as a warning to a culture gone adrift. Rod was not interested in the things that normally interest teenagers. Neither sports nor books were enough to quench his insatiable boredom. Only one thing excited him: death. He spent hours watching the video Faces of Death, a collection of film clips of people dying violently. Rod’s curiosity about death led him to want to see death personally, not just on the television or movie screen. Eventually, he found a way to satisfy his curiosity. One winter afternoon he lured a friend out into the woods and proceeded to beat him to death with a baseball bat. During his trial for murder, the most telling remark was made by a child psychiatrist who was asked to give a clinical evaluation of Rod’s condition. The doctor’s assessment was that Rod was not insane in the conventional sense but that he simply didn’t “know right from wrong. … He [was] morally handicapped” (emphasis mine)” -  Mark DeVries, Family-Based Youth Ministry, (Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1994, p. 53

Only God has the right to define what’s wrong.

Recently I read about a private investigator in the US who would knock on a door, show his badge to whoever answered, and say, “I guess we don’t have to tell you why we’re here.” Many times, the person would look stunned and say, “How did you find out?” then go on to describe an undiscovered criminal act committed long ago. Writing in Smithsonian magazine, Ron Rosenbaum described the reaction as “an opening for the primal force of conscience, the telltale heart’s internal monologue.” - David C. McCasland

C S Lewis - God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Few things instill more courage han a good conscience toward God.

Thomas Brooks - Conscience is God's deputy, God's spy, God's notary, God's viceroy...Conscience is God's preacher in the bosom.

On the subject of conscience Martin Luther declared before the court of the Roman Empire at Worms in 1521 = "My conscience is captive to the Word of God… I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self."

When a person comes to faith in Christ, his conscience becomes acutely sensitive to sin. No longer as a Christian can he sin with impunity. The story is told about an old Indian chief who was converted. Later a missionary asked him:

"Chief, how are you doing spiritually? Are you experiencing victory over the devil?"

"It's like this," the chief replied. "I have two dogs inside me: a good dog and a bad dog. They are constantly fighting with each other."

"Which dog wins?" asked the puzzled missionary.

"Whichever one I feed the most," retorted the wise old man. His conscience was being shaped by the Scriptures.

Billy Graham set out the importance of a clear conscience - "To have a guilty conscience is a feeling. Psychologists may define it as a guilt complex, and may seek to rationalize away the sense of guilt, but once it has been awakened through the application of the law of God, no explanation will quiet the insistent voice of conscience."

The Friend Inside - Throughout his administration, Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire, especially during the scarring years of the Civil War. And though he knew he would make errors of office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. So strong was this resolve that he once said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.” -  Today In The Word, August, 1989, p. 21

A Necessary Evil -  Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a “necessary evil,” it begins to look more and more necessary and less and less evil. - Sidney J. Harris
 

  Myself
I have to live with myself, and so 
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;

I don’t want to stand, with the setting sun,
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.
I don’t want to keep on the closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself, as I come and go, 
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of a man I really am;
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.

I don’t want to look at myself and know
That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.
I can never hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;

I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.
-Anonymous

A W Tozer - Conscience singles you out as though nobody else existed. God has given us a faithful witness inside of our own being...It is able to single a man out and reveal his loneliness, the loneliness of a single soul in the universe going on to meet an angry God. That’s the terror of the conscience. Conscience never deals with theories. Conscience always deals with right and wrong and the relation of the individual to that which is right or wrong. Remember the conscience is always on God’s side! It judges conduct in the light of the moral law, and as the Scripture says, excuses or accuses."

C H Spurgeon spoke frequently about conscience as seen in the following quite pithy quotations… beloved if you are contemplating sinning as you read this or are caught in the web of some sin, may the Holy Spirit of the Living God convict you of sin, righteousness and the judgment to come, not only for your sake of your Christian life but even more so for the sake of His name…

Conscience may tell me that something is wrong, but how wrong it is conscience itself does not know. Did any man's conscience, unenlightened by the Spirit, ever tell him that his sins deserved damnation? Did it ever lead any man to feel an abhorrence of sin as sin? Did conscience ever bring a man to such self-renunciation that he totally abhorred himself and all his works and came to Christ?

A man sees his enemy before him. By the light of his candle, he marks the insidious approach. His enemy is seeking his life. The man puts out the candle and then exclaims, "I am now quite at peace." That is what you do. Conscience is the candle of the Lord. It shows you your enemy. You try to put it out by saying, "Peace, peace! Put the enemy out!" God give you grace to thrust sin out!

Conscience is like a magnetic needle, which, if once turned aside from its pole, will never cease trembling. You can never make it still until it is permitted to return to its proper place.

I recollect the time when I thought that if I had to live on bread and water all my life and be chained in a dungeon, I would cheerfully submit to that if I might but get rid of my sins. When sin haunted and burdened my spirit, I am sure I would have counted the martyr's death preferable to a life under the lash of a guilty conscience

O believe me, guilt upon the conscience is worse than the body on the rack. Even the flames of the stake may be cheerfully endured, but the burnings of a conscience tormented by God are beyond all measure unendurable.

This side of hell, what can be worse than the tortures of an awakened conscience?

He was a fool who killed the watchdog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. If conscience upbraids you, feel its upbraiding and heed its rebuke. It is your best friend.

Give me into the power of a roaring lion, but never let me come under the power of an awakened, guilty conscience. Shut me up in a dark dungeon, among all manner of loathsome creatures—snakes and reptiles of all kinds—but, oh, give me not over to my own thoughts when I am consciously guilty before God!

Fire such as martyrs felt at the stake were but a plaything compared with the flames of a burning conscience. Thunderbolts and tornadoes are nothing in force compared with the charges of a guilty conscience.

When a swarm of bees gets about a man, they are above, beneath, around, everywhere stinging, every one stinging, until he seems to be stung in every part of his body. So, when conscience wakes up the whole hive of our sins, we find ourselves compassed about with innumerable evils: sins at the board and sins on the bed, sins at the task and sins in the pew, sins in the street and sins in the shop, sins on the land and sins at sea, sins of body, soul, and spirit, sins of eye, of lip, of hand, of foot, sins everywhere. It is a horrible discovery when it seems to a man as if sin had become as omnipresent with him as God is.

The conscience of man, when he is really quickened and awakened by the Holy Spirit, speaks the truth. It rings the great alarm bell. And if he turns over in his bed, that great alarm bell rings out again and again, "The wrath to come! The wrath to come! The wrath to come! "

Nothing can be more horrible, out of hell, than to have an awakened conscience but not a reconciled God—to see sin, yet not see the Savior—to behold the deadly disease in all its loathsomeness, but not trust the good Physician, and so to have no hope of ever being healed of our malady.

I would bear any affliction rather than be burdened with a guilty conscience.

It is a blessed thing to have a conscience that will shiver when the very ghost of a sin goes by—a conscience that is not like our great steamships at sea that do not yield to every wave, but, like a cork on the water, goes up and down with every ripple, sensitive in a moment to the very approach of sin. May God the Holy Spirit make us so! This sensitiveness the Christian endeavors to have, for he knows that if he has it not, he will never be purified from his sin.

There are thousands of people in this country who would be greatly troubled in their minds if they did not go to church twice on Sundays. And they get comfort in this because their conscience is dead. If their conscience were really awakened, they would understand that there is no connection between conscience and outward forms.

I sometimes get this question put to me, concerning certain worldly amusements, “May I do so-and-so?” I am very sorry whenever anyone asks me that question, because it shows that there is something wrong, or it would not be raised at all. If a person’s conscience lets him say, “Well, I can go to A,” he will very soon go on to B, C, D, E, and through all the letters of the alphabet…  When Satan cannot catch us with a big sin, he will try a little one. It does not matter to him as long as he catches his fish, what bait he uses. Beware of the beginning of evil, for many, who bade fair to go right, have turned aside and perished amongst the dark mountains in the wide field of sin.

Ray Stedman has some interesting thoughts on conscience writing that...

We each have a conscience. We may not be able to analyze it, and we certainly cannot control it, but we know we all possess one. Conscience has been defined as "that still, small voice that makes you feel smaller still," or, as one little boy put it, "It is that which feels bad when everything else feels good." Conscience is that internal voice that sits in judgment over our will. There is a very common myth abroad that says that conscience is the means by which we tell what is right and what is wrong. But conscience is never that. It is training that tells us what is right or wrong. But when we know what is right or wrong, it is our conscience that insists that we do what we think is right and avoid what we think is wrong. That distinction is very important and needs to be made clear. Conscience can be very mistaken; it is not a safe guide by itself. It accuses us when we violate whatever moral standard we may have, but that moral standard may be quite wrong when viewed in the light of God's revelation. But conscience also gives approval whenever we fulfill whatever standard we have, though that standard is right or wrong. And conscience, we have all discovered, acts both before and after the fact -- it can either prod or punish. (A Clear Conscience)

Barclay gives an interesting historical perspective on "conscience" referring to it as...

the instinctive knowledge of right and wrong. The Stoics said that in the universe there were certain laws operative which a man broke at his peril—the laws of health, the moral laws which govern life and living. The Stoics called these laws phusis, which means nature, and urged men to live kata phusin, "according to nature". It is Paul’s argument that in the very nature of man there is an instinctive knowledge of what he ought to do. The Greeks would have agreed with that. Aristotle said: “The cultivated and free-minded man will so behave as being a law to himself.” Plutarch asks: “Who shall govern the governor?” And he answers: “Law, the king of all mortals and immortals...which is not written on papyrus rolls or wooden tablets, but is his own reason within the soul, which perpetually dwells with him and guards him and never leaves his soul bereft of leadership." (The Daily Study Bible - Romans 2)

Unless of course it becomes seared as did the "inner moral compass" of the Roman Emperor Nero, whose evil exploits are too despicable to even be reviewed in these notes.


Expired License When Sgt. Ray Baarz of the Midvale, Utah, police department opened his wallet the other day, he noticed his driver’s license had expired. Embarrassed at having caught himself red-handed, he had no alternative. He calmly and deliberately pulled out his ticket book and wrote himself a citation. Then Baarz took the ticket to the city judge who fined him five dollars. “How could I give a ticket to anyone else for an expired license in the future if I didn’t cite myself?” Baarz asked.


The trouble with the advice, “Follow your conscience” is that most people follow it like someone following a wheelbarrow—they direct it wherever they want it to go, and then follow behind. - Source unknown


This was how Susannah Wesley defined “sin” to her young son, John Wesley: “If you would judge of the lawfulness or the unlawfulness of pleasure, then take this simple rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, and takes off the relish of spiritual things—that to you is sin.” 


Barclay quotes William Temple, the renowned archbishop of Canterbury, as defining worship as quickening the conscience by the holiness of God, feeding the mind with the truth of God, purging the imagination by the beauty of God, opening the heart to the love of God, and devoting the will to the purpose of God


Conscience Fund -  Did you know that ever since 1811 (when someone who had defrauded the government anonymously sent $5 to Washington D.C.) the U.S. Treasury has operated a Conscience Fund? Since that time almost $3.5 million has been received from guilt-ridden citizens. Swindoll, The Quest For Character


Don’t Cross that Line
      There is a time, we know not when,
A place, we know not where;
Which marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.

There is a line, by us unseen,
Which crosses every path,
Which marks the boundary between
God’s mercy and his wrath.

To pass that limit is to die,
To die as if by stealth;
It does not dim the beaming eye,
Nor pale the glow of health.

The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirit light and gay;
And that which pleases still may please,
And care be thrust away.

But on that forehead God hath set
Indelibly a mark;
Unseen by man, for man as yet,
Is blind and in the dark.

He feels perchance that all is well
And every fear is calmed;
He lives, he dies, he walks in hell,
Not only doomed, but damned!

O, where is that mysterious line 
That may by men be crossed,
Beyond which God himself hath sworn,
That he who goes is lost?

An answer from the skies repeats,
“Ye who from God depart,”
Today, O hear His voice,
Today repent and harden not your heart.
- Joseph Addison Alexander


Hudson Taylor - Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of  Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light.  They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel.  As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior.  Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others.


Once there was a man who was such a golf addict that he was neglecting his job.  Frequently he would call in sick as an excuse to play.
  One morning, after making his usual call to the office, an angel up above spotted him on the way to the golf course and decided to teach him a lesson.  “If you play golf today, you will be punished,” the angel whispered in his ear.
  Thinking it was only his conscience, which he had successfully whipped in the past, the fellow just smiled.  “No,” he said, “I’ve been doing this for years.  No one will ever know.  I won’t be punished.”
  The angel said no more and the fellow stepped up to the first tee where he promptly whacked the ball 300 yards straight down the middle of the fairway.  Since he had never driven the ball more than 200 yards, he couldn’t believe it.  Yet, there it was. And his luck continued.  Long drives on every hole, perfect putting.  By the ninth hole he was six under par and was playing near-perfect golf.  The fellow was walking on air.
  He wound up with an amazing 61, about 30 strokes under his usual game.  Wait until he got back to the office and told them about this!  But, suddenly, his face fell.  He couldn’t tell them.  He could never tell anyone.
  The angel smiled.  


Upright Character
  In China’s later Han era, there lived a politician called Yang Zhen, a man known for his upright character.  After Yang Zhen was made a provincial governor, one of his earlier patrons, Wang Mi, paid him an unexpected visit.  As they talked over old times, Wang Mi brought out a large gold cup and presented it to Yang Zhen.  Yang Zhen refused to accept it, but Wang Mi persisted, saying, “There’s no one here tonight but you and me, so no one will know.”
  “You say that no one will know,” Yang Zhen replied, “but that is not true.  Heaven will know, and you and I will know too.”
  Wang Mi was ashamed, and backed down.  Subsequently Yang Zhen’s integrity won increasing recognition, and he rose to a high post in the central government.
  Human nature is weak, and we tend to yield to temptation when we think nobody can see us.  In fact, if there was no police   force, many people would not hesitate to steal.  This is not to say that when we do something bad, we feel no compunction at all, just that man is weak and prone to yield to temptation.
  But even if nobody witnesses our sins, and not a soul knows of them, we cannot hide the truth from the eyes of our conscience.  In the end, what is important is not that other people know, but that we ourselves know.  When Yang Zhen told Wang Mi that “Heaven will know,” he meant that the gods would know what he had done:  in other words, his own conscience.
  A person who sins neither in thought nor deed, and is fair and just, gains enormous courage and strength.  As a leader, you need courage born of integrity in order to be capable of powerful leadership.  To achieve this courage, you must search your heart, and make sure that your conscience is clear and your behavior is beyond reproach. Konosuke Matsushita,


Things that will destroy us
Politics without principle, 
pleasure without conscience, 
wealth without work, 
knowledge without character, 
business without morality, 
science without humanity, 
worship without sacrifice.
 Mohandas K. Gandhi,


Stirring the Conscience
  The great 19th century British statesman and prime minister, William Gladstone, once said, “One thing I have against the clergy both of the country and in the towns. I think they are not severe enough on congregations. They do not sufficiently lay upon the souls and consciences of their hearers their moral obligations, and probe their hearts and bring up their whole lives and actions to the bar of conscience.
      “The class of sermons which I think are most needed, are of the class which once offended Lord Melbourne. He was seen coming from church in the country in a great fume. Finding a friend, he exclaimed, ‘It is too bad I have always been a supporter of the church, and I have always upheld the clergy, but it is really too bad to have to listen to a sermon like that we have heard this morning. Why, the preacher actually insisted upon applying religion to a man’s personal life!”
  Gladstone concluded,
      “That is the kind of preaching I like best, the kind of preaching which men need most, but it is, also, the kind of which they get the least.”  Morning Glory


Ps. 51:3 Dirty Windows
Read Psalm 51:3-6
 
Sin is much more than a word in the dictionary. It is a powerful evil that damages our lives and our world. David describes a guilty conscience: "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51:3). Conscience is a marvelous gift from God, the window that lets in the light of His truth. If we sin against Him deliberately, that window becomes dirty, and not as much truth can filter through. Eventually, the window becomes so dirty that it no longer lets in the light. The Bible calls this a defiled, seared conscience.
 
David covered his sin for about a year. He refused to be broken. He refused to humble himself before God. And what was his life like? "He who covers his sins will not prosper" (Prov. 28:13). Did David prosper? No. Wherever he looked he saw his sin.
 
Before he sinned, David saw God wherever he looked. His heart was pure. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8). Your heart affects your eyes; what you love in your heart, your eyes will seek.
 
God wants truth in our inner being. "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6). David confessed because he wanted to see God again--in nature, in His Word and in the temple.
 
Do you keep a clean conscience? It is a part of your inner being that responds to God's truth. When you sin, the window of your conscience becomes dirty and filters out truth. Avoid sin in your life and live with a clean conscience. Every day feed yourself truth from the Word of God. - Warren Wiersbe - Prayer, Praises, and Promises


Restitution
  I once heard the late Dr. F.E. Marsh tell that on one occasion he was preaching on this question and urging upon his hearers the importance of confession of sin and wherever possible of restitution for wrong done to others.
  At the close a young man, a member of the church, came up to him with a troubled countenance. “Pastor,” he explained, “you have put me in a sad fix. I have wronged another and I am ashamed to confess it or to try to put it right. You see, I am a boat builder and the man I work for is an infidel. I have talked to him often about his need of Christ and urged him to come and hear you preach, but he scoffs and ridicules it all. Now, I have been guilty of something that, if I should acknowledge it to him, will ruin my testimony forever.”
  He then went on to say that sometime ago he started to build a boat for himself in his own yard. In this work copper nails are used because they do not rust in the water. These nails are quite expensive and the young man had been carrying home quantities of them to use on the job. He knew it was stealing, but he tried to salve his conscience be telling himself that the master had so many he would never miss them and besides he was not being paid all that he thought he deserved. But this sermon had brought him to face the fact that he was just a common thief, for whose dishonest actions there was no excuse.
  “But,” said he, “I cannot go to my boss and tell him what I have done or offer to pay for those I have used and return the rest. If I do he will think I am just a hypocrite. And yet those copper mails are digging into my conscience and I know I shall never have peace until I put this matter right.”
  For weeks the struggle went on. Then one night he came to Dr. Marsh and exclaimed, “Pastor, I’ve settled for the copper nails and my conscience is relieved at last.”
  “What happened when you confessed to your employer what you had done?” asked the pastor.
  “Oh,” he answered, “he looked queerly at me, then exclaimed, ‘George, I always did think you were just a hypocrite, but now I begin to feel there’s something in this Christianity after all. Any religion that would make a dishonest workman come back and confess that he had been stealing copper nails and offer to settle for them, must be worth having.’”
  Dr. Marsh asked if he might use the story, and was granted permission.
  Sometime afterwards, he told it in another city. The next day a lady came up and said, “Doctor, I have had ‘copper nails’ on my conscience too.” “Why, surely, you are not a boat builder!” “No, but I am a book-lover and I have stolen a number of books from a friend of mine who gets far more that I could ever afford. I decided last night I must get rid of the ‘copper nails,’ so I took them all back to her today and confessed my sin. I can’t tell you how relieved I am. She forgave me, and God has forgiven me. I am so thankful the ‘copper mails’ are not digging into my conscience any more.”
  I have told this story many times and almost invariably people have come to me afterwards telling of “copper nails” in one form or another that they had to get rid of. On one occasion, I told it at a High School chapel service. The next day the principal saw me and said, “As a result of that ‘copper nails’ story, ever so many stolen fountain pens and other things have been returned to their rightful owners.”
  Reformation and restitution do not save. But where one is truly repentant and has come to God in sincere confession, he will want to the best of his ability to put things right with others.  Illustrations of Bible Truth by H.A. Ironside


False Testimony -  The great attorney, orator, and statesman Daniel Webster was such an imposing figure in court that he once stared a witness out of  the courtroom. Apparently Webster knew the man was there to deliver false testimony, so he fixed his “dark, beetle-browed” eyes on the man and searched him. According to the story, later in the trial “Webster looked around again to see if [the witness] was ready for the inquisition. The witness felt for his hat and edged toward the door. A third time Webster looked on him, and the witness could sit no longer. He seized his chance and fled from the court and was nowhere to be found.” -  Today in the Word,


In a number of languages it would be entirely misleading to speak of `a guilty conscience,' for this would seem to imply that there is something sinful about the conscience itself. In reality, it is the conscience that says that a person is guilty, and therefore it may be necessary to translate Heb10:22 as `with hearts that have been purified from a condition in which their conscience has said that they are guilty.

There is a treasure you can own
That's greater than a crown or throne;
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. --Isenhour

See 1Pe 3:19 where Peter is encouraging the believers who are suffering (or will soon go thru a fiery trial) with the doctrinal truth that "baptism now saves you" and he equates this "baptism" not with water baptism of Christianity or ritual Jewish baptismal washing for "purification" but with the obtaining of a "good conscience". And in these verses in Hebrews we see the only way one can obtain a clean conscience is by having one's heart sprinkled (with the blood of Jesus) (1Pe1:2) representing the blood of the New Covenant in which the unregenerate person is born from above and receives a new heart (with a new conscience).


Our Daily Bread - A Clear Conscience

In 1971 he killed a man. Even though he was the prime suspect in the murder, no one could prove it and the case was abandoned. So, he got away with it. Or did he? Nearly three decades later, in failing health and living in a nursing home, he confessed to the crime. A detective who headed the original investigation said, "He was looking over his shoulder for the last 26 years, not only for the law, but for his Maker. I think he wants to clear his conscience before he meets his Maker--or try to at least."

How's your conscience today? Clear or clouded? What would it take to be ready to meet your Maker? How can you be made clean? It may seem strange to speak of blood as a cleansing agent, but that's how the Bible connects the death of Jesus on the cross to our standing before God (Heb. 10:19). Christ shed His blood so that we might be forgiven and made clean inside. Because of what He has done, we can have a clear conscience and "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (v.22). No matter who you are or what you've done, Jesus Christ can give you a clear conscience. Why not confess your sin and make things right with your Maker today. --D C M

Now in His mercy He waits to impart
Peace to the conscience and joy to the heart,
Waits to be gracious, to pardon and heal
All who their guilt and their sinfulness feel. --Anon.

A clear conscience is a soft pillow.

(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


The 50-Year Desire -- Years ago I was standing by the deathbed of an old minister down in Alabama. The old man had been a preacher for fifty years. I saw his son, who also was a minister, kneel by his father’s bed. “Father, you have preached for fifty years, and have done more good than any man I know.” The old man, with feeble but distinct voice, said: “Don’t tell me about that, son. Tell me about the blood of Jesus. Nothing but the blood of Jesus will do for a dying man.” If a man who had preached for fifty years and who had lived a pure, straight life, in his dying hour had to rely upon the blood of Jesus Christ, don’t you ever think there is any hope for you aside from this atoning blood?


Board Room Policy - Few executives can afford the luxury of a conscience. A business that defined right and wrong in terms that would satisfy a well-developed contemporary conscience could not survive. When the directors and managers enter the board room to debate policy, they park their private consciences outside. If they didn’t they would fail in their responsibility to the company that pays them. The crucial question in board rooms today is not, “Are we morally obligated to do it?” but rather “What will happen if we don’t do it?” or “How will this affect the rate of return on our investment?” No company employs a vice president in charge of ethical standards, and sooner or later the conscientious executive is likely to come up against a stone wall of corporate indifference to private moral values. In the real world of today’s business, he is almost surely a troubled man. -  Dan Miller, Chicago


I recently saw the story of a high school values clarification class conducted by a teacher in Teneck, New Jersey. A girl in the class had found a purse containing $1,000 and returned it to its owner. The teacher asked for the class’s reaction. Every single one of her fellow students concluded the girl had been “foolish.” Most of the students contended that if someone is careless, they should be punished. When the teacher was asked what he said to the students, he responded, “Well, of course, I didn’t say anything. If I come from the position of what is right and what is wrong, then I’m not their counselor. I can’t impose my views.” It’s no wonder that J. Allen Smith, considered a father of many modern education reforms, concluded in the end, “The trouble with us reformers is that we’ve made reform a crusade against all standards. Well, we’ve smashed them all, and now neither we nor anybody else have anything left.”  Senator Dan Coats


Our conscience is like a moral monitor. An important way we discern whether a spiritual communication has God as its source is to ask: Does the message agree with the Bible, God's written Word? If it does not align with God’s previously revealed truth, then we cannot put our stamp of approval on it. - Amy Boucher Pye


For life’s adventure, Lord, I ask
Courage and faith for every task;
A heart kept clean by high desire,
A conscience purged by holy fire.
—McDermand


Losing To Win - While James E. Rogan was a US Representative from a district in California, he was faced with a crucial decision. He had been elected by the slimmest of margins in an area that usually voted for the other party. An extremely important public issue with immense moral implications was being considered. If he followed his conscience, it would cost him re-election. If he followed political expediency, he could be certain of another term. The congressman went with his convictions and voted for what he knew in his heart to be right. He was not re-elected. Afterward, he said, “It hurt to lose. But I’ll never regret my vote . . . . It is easy for elected officials to succumb to the illusion that the greater good is served by their self-perpetuation in office. But something larger gets lost. . . . the ability to lead.”


Thieves stole nearly $5,000 in sound and office equipment from a church in West Virginia, only to break in the following night to return the items they had taken. Apparently, the guilt of stealing from a church weighed so heavily on their conscience that they felt the need to correct their criminal behavior of breaking the commandment: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). Their actions make me think about the differences between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. - Marvin Williams 


Your heart and conscience cannot safely guide,
For they are darkened by the sin inside;
But if you want to have a picture true,
The Word of God will mirror what is you.
—Hess


Jesse Jacobs has created an apology hotline that makes it possible to apologize without actually talking to the person you’ve wronged. People who are unable or unwilling to unburden their conscience in person call the hotline and leave a message on an answering machine. Each week, 30 to 50 calls are logged, as people apologize for things from adultery to embezzlement. “The hotline offers participants a chance to alleviate their guilt and, to some degree, to own up to their misdeeds,” said Jacobs. Are any of your relationships broken or estranged because of something you said or did? Take the initiative. Go now and do all you can to be reconciled.


A prisoner waiting on death row had a deep sense of guilt. He had killed a man in the presence of the victim’s two children during a robbery attempt. The convict was bothered so much that he refused to allow his lawyer to appeal for a stay of execution. For him, departing this life was an escape from his nagging conscience and the reproach of an angry society. He said, “It’s my way out of this living hell.” How mistaken he was! 


After bearing the burden of a guilty conscience for more than four decades, an elderly man decided he couldn’t go on any longer without confessing his crime. When he was brought to trial, he told the judge, “After living with this thing hanging over my head for 40 some years, it got heavier and heavier until I just couldn’t stand it any longer.” What a clear illustration that guilt is inescapable! And the power of conscience!


If you can't hear God speaking, check the volume control of your conscience.


Researchers at the University of Toronto reported in 2006 that people who are suffering from a guilty conscience experience “a powerful urge to wash themselves.” To study this effect, the researchers asked volunteers to recall past sins. They were then given an opportunity to wash their hands as a symbol of cleansing their conscience. Those who had recalled their sins washed their hands at “twice the rate of study subjects who had not imagined past transgressions.” The Bible proposes the only effective way of dealing with sin—confession


A Clear Conscience

Read: 1 John 1 

I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16

After Ffyona Campbell became famous as the first woman to walk around the world, her joy was short-lived. Despite the adulation she received, something troubled her. Guilt overtook her and pushed her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.

What was bothering her? “I shouldn’t be remembered as the first woman to walk around the world,” she finally admitted. “I cheated.” During her worldwide trek, she broke the guidelines of the Guinness Book of World Records by riding in a truck part of the way. To clear her conscience, she called her sponsor and confessed her deception.

God has given each of us a conscience that brings guilt when we do wrong. In Romans, Paul describes our conscience as “accusing or else excusing [us]” (2:15). For the obedient follower of Christ, care of the conscience is an important way of maintaining a moral compass despite moral imperfection. Confessing sin, turning from it, and making restitution should be a way of life (1 John 1:9; Lev. 6:2-5).

Paul modeled a well-maintained conscience, saying, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16 NIV). Through confession and repentance, he kept short accounts with God. Is sin bothering you? Follow Paul’s example. Strive for a clear conscience.

There is a treasure you can own That’s greater than a crown or throne: This treasure is a conscience clear That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. —Isenhour

If God’s Word guides your conscience, let your conscience be your guide.

By Dennis Fisher (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


The Pain Machine

Read: Acts 24:16; Ephesians 4:31-32 

I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16

Dr. Paul Brand, who served as a medical missionary in India, told about lepers who had terrible deformities because their nerve endings could not feel pain. It didn’t hurt when they stepped in a fire or cut their finger with a knife, so they left their wounds untended. This led to infection and deformity.

Dr. Brand constructed a machine that would beep when it came in contact with fire or sharp objects. It signaled the warnings of injury in the absence of pain. Soon machines were attached to the patients’ fingers and feet. That worked well until they wanted to play basketball. They took the machines off, and often became injured again without knowing it.

Like physical pain to our bodies, our conscience alerts us to spiritual harm. But habitual and unrepentant sin can numb the conscience (1 Tim. 4:1-3). To keep a clear conscience, we need to respond to the pain of appropriate guilt by confession (1 John 1:9), repentance (Acts 26:20), and restitution to others (Luke 19:8). Paul could say with confidence, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16). Like him, we should not grow numb to God’s painful reminder of sin but allow it to produce in us godly character.

My conscience must be well-informed
From God’s own sacred Word,
For conscience may be much deformed
When standards pure are spurned.  —Fraser

A clear conscience is a soft pillow.

By Dennis Fisher  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


If Doubtful, Don't!

Read: Romans 14:14-23

He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. —Romans 14:23

In his book Illustrations of Bible Truth, H. A. Ironside tells about a man who was getting ready to attend a banquet. He wanted to put on a white shirt he had worn on a previous occasion, so he was inspecting it carefully to see if it was too dirty. His wife noticed what he was doing and called out, “Remember, dear, if it’s doubtful, don’t.” The issue was settled. The man threw the shirt into the laundry hamper.

That wife’s advice reminds me of the principle in today’s text. It’s a principle that can be applied to questionable matters of conscience. If doubtful, don’t.

The doubtful things the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 14 had to do with meat and wine considered to be “unclean” by some but not by others (vv.14,21). He indicated that if we have doubts about whether an action is right or wrong and we do it anyway, our action is not from faith and is therefore a sin (v.23). He also pointed out that it is wrong to do anything by which a brother in Christ “stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (v.21). We must never give another Christian a reason to violate his or her conscience.

When faced with questionable practices and a troubled conscience, we would do well to make this our guideline: If it’s doubtful, don’t!

There is a treasure you can own
That's greater than a crown or throne;
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. —Isenhour

One little word can spare us a lot of trouble. It's NO.

By Richard DeHaan   (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


A Winning Combination

Read: 1 Timothy 1:18-20

. . . having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck. —1 Timothy 1:19

A new believer slipped into his old ways by attending a party and getting drunk. When he arrived home, his wife would not let him in. Instead, she called their pastor, who found the man sleeping in his car.

The pastor took him to a motel to sleep off his drunkenness. He knew him well and was confident that a strong rebuke would not be needed. Instead, he asked God to convict the man and bring him to repentance. In this case the pastor chose the right course. The young man later said that he had learned a valuable lesson through this experience and that the Lord had “taken all the fun out of sin.”

A “good conscience” will disturb us when we do something we know is wrong. We keep it “good” by heeding it and turning away from sin. Paul said the faith of Hymenaeus and Alexander “suffered shipwreck” because they rejected the voice of their good conscience (1 Timothy 1:19-20). By doing so, they had deadened their conscience and then apparently twisted the truth to justify their conduct.

True faith and a sensitive conscience will take all the fun out of sinning and remove the desire to twist the truth to justify what is wrong. Faith and a good conscience are a winning combination. Let’s keep them strong.

Our conscience is a gift from God,
It is a guiding light;
And when aligned with faith and truth,
It tells us wrong from right. —Sper

Conscience is a safe guide when guided by God's Word.

By Herbert Vander Lugt   (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Be Safe—Not Sorry!

Read: Acts 5:1-11

Do not quench the Spirit. —1 Thessalonians 5:19

Two young women lost their lives in a fire that swept through their apartment as they slept. Their home was equipped with a smoke detector that was in good working order, but it hadn’t gone off. Why? Fire inspectors concluded that the device had been deactivated for a party the night before. The unit had been disconnected to keep it from sounding off because of the smoke from cooking and candles.

In Acts 5 we have another example of two people who apparently deactivated an alarm system that could have saved their lives. Ananias and Sapphira must have quenched the Holy Spirit by turning a deaf ear to their consciences, believing they had plenty of good reasons for doing what they did. But their action cost them their lives.

We need to realize that the Holy Spirit was not given to annoy us like a sensitive smoke detector. He doesn’t sound false alarms. When He activates our conscience by bringing to mind a principle or warning from God’s Word, it is really His love and wisdom in action.

By weighing the warnings of His love against the cost of our foolishness, we’ll soon realize that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. —MRD II

Our conscience is a gift from God,
It is a guiding light;
And when aligned with God's true Word,
It shows us what is right. —Sper

To ignore your conscience is to invite trouble.

By Mart DeHaan 


A Good Conscience

Read: 1 Peter 3:8-17 

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, . . . having a good conscience. —1 Peter 3:15-16

What does it take to have a good conscience? Well, if we could go through life without ever breaking any of God’s laws, we would have nothing to feel guilty about. But I don’t know anyone with that kind of record. Only Jesus Christ could confidently ask, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” and have no fear of being accused (Jn. 8:46).

Yet the apostle Peter told his readers to commit their hearts to the Lord God, “having a good conscience” (1 Pet. 3:15-16). And Paul encouraged Timothy to wage a good warfare, “having faith and a good conscience” (1 Tim. 1:19). On one occasion, when brought before some religious leaders who didn’t like what he was saying, Paul even asserted, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1).

How is it possible for you to have a good conscience? The New Testament book of Hebrews presents Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death as your only hope of achieving it. Through faith in Him your heart can be “sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb. 10:22). And His blood can “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (9:14).

Do you know the joy of a good conscience?

There is a treasure you can own
That's greater than a crown or throne;
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. —Isenhour

A good conscience is one of the best friends you'll ever have.

By Dennis J. DeHaan   (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Adjust Your Conscience

Read: Acts 24:10-16

I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16

Built into our nature is an internal judicial system, the conscience, that commends us when we do right and condemns us when we do wrong. But this vital monitor of morality does not say the same thing to everyone. In some cultures vengeful killing is seen as honorable. In others, a person is still considered good even when he betrays a friend.

A story from The Philadelphia Inquirer illustrates this problem. A 12-year-old boy was caught stealing a watch. He told police that previously he had shoplifted a gift for his mother, and he felt he had to do the same for his dad. Although troubled about slighting his father, he had no qualms about stealing.

Because of sin, conscience is unreliable and needs a continual adjustment. This begins with a right relationship to God through faith in Jesus Christ. He paid sin’s penalty, and now our hearts are “sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb. 10:22). But this does not make conscience obsolete. As we study the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit puts our inner monitor on a frequency that brings us in tune with the words, deeds, and attitudes of the Lord Jesus.

“Let your conscience be your guide” is valid only if God’s Word is guiding your conscience.

There is a treasure you can own
That's greater than a crown or throne:
A conscience good with which to live,
That only God Himself can give.  —Isenhour

Conscience is like a sundial: when the truth of God shines on it, it points in the right direction.

By Dennis J. DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


A Cleansed Conscience

Read: Romans 2:12-16 

I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16

The much-loved children’s story Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet whose nose grows long when he tells a lie. His friend Jiminy Cricket chirps, “Let your conscience be your guide.” Pinocchio follows his advice, repents, and returns to Geppetto his creator, where he is given a heart of flesh and is freed from his strings.

There’s a principle in this story for God’s children. If we don’t listen to that voice deep down inside that tells us what we should and should not do, we live in bondage. But a cleansed conscience brings freedom.

Some people have no strong basis for making godly decisions. Their conscience is weak, and they can be easily swayed by the behavior of others. Then there are those whose conscience is defiled. The standard by which they measure good and evil is corrupted, polluted, and impure (Titus 1:15). But saddest of all are those who have a “seared” conscience (1 Timothy 4:2). They have resisted that inner voice for so long that they no longer hear what it has to say.

But you ask, “How can we have a cleansed conscience?” We must repent of our sin and return to our Creator. We must ask Him to conform our desires and behavior to His Word and then be careful to obey it.

There is a treasure you can own
That's greater than a crown or throne;
This treasure is a conscience clear
That brings the sweetest peace and cheer. —Isenhour

Conscience is a trustworthy compass when God's Word is your true north.

By David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


A Clear Conscience

Read: Hebrews 3:7-15

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. —Psalm 51:2

In 1971 he killed a man. Even though he was the prime suspect in the murder, no one could prove it and the case was abandoned. So, he got away with it. Or did he?

Nearly three decades later, in failing health and living in a nursing home, he confessed to the crime. A detective who headed the original investigation said, “He was looking over his shoulder for the last 26 years, not only for the law, but for his Maker. I think he wants to clear his conscience before he meets his Maker—or try to at least.”

How’s your conscience today? Clear or clouded? What would it take to be ready to meet your Maker? How can you be made clean?

It may seem strange to speak of blood as a cleansing agent, but that’s how the Bible connects the death of Jesus on the cross to our standing before God (Heb. 10:19). Christ shed His blood so that we might be forgiven and made clean inside. Because of what He has done, we can have a clear conscience and “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (v.22).

No matter who you are or what you’ve done, Jesus Christ can give you a clear conscience. Why not confess your sin and make things right with your Maker today.

Now in His mercy He waits to impart
Peace to the conscience and joy to the heart,
Waits to be gracious, to pardon and heal
All who their guilt and their sinfulness feel.—Anon.

A clear conscience is a soft pillow.

By David C. McCasland  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Know Your Limits

Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.  —1 Timothy 4:1-2

Dogs are intelligent, but Charles Medley of Rockford, Illinois, had some doubts about his dog Bullet. Whenever Bullet heard a squirrel, a rabbit, or a person, he would take off like a shot in the direction of that sound. It didn’t matter that he was tied up. By the time he reached the end of his rope, he’d be traveling at maximum velocity, heading straight for his target. But in an instant, his strong rope would pull taut and jerk Bullet to a jarring, sprawling halt. That beagle never learned his limits.

God has built into us a moral tug on the soul whenever we go beyond what is good for us. It’s called conscience. Unlike Bullet’s rope, however, it doesn’t stop us from going too far. Furthermore, conscience can be deadened when we violate it repeatedly, and it can be programmed with wrong information so that we may feel guilty when no real guilt exists, or we may be guilty and not feel it.

We must learn the moral limits God places on us for our own good and then choose to live within them. By reading God’s Word and trusting His Spirit to teach us, our conscience becomes attuned to God’s standard of right and wrong. This helps us to know our limits and to experience the freedom and joy that living within them brings.

My conscience must be well-informed From God's own sacred Word; For conscience may be much deformed When standards pure are spurned.  —Fraser

Conscience can be our compass if the Word of God is our chart.

By Dennis J. DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Conscience & Consequence

Read: Daniel 3:1-18

He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, . . . we do not serve your gods. —Daniel 3:17-18

Nearly every day we face questions of conscience. We must choose between doing what pleases God and what appeals to our own selfish desires.

Government officials may be tempted to accept bribes and to make unethical decisions. Employees are sometimes asked to rearrange numbers or file false reports. Students often face temptations such as cheating and plagiarism.

As Christians, we face situations in our daily lives that are conscience-testers. They help us to see whether we are serious about the integrity God expects of us. We know our choices will have good or bad consequences, but the real test comes when we must decide what to do.

What is the greatest protection against making the wrong decision? It is trusting God to take care of us as we choose to do what’s right, regardless of the outcome.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach and his friends made a decision not to bow down to the gold image. They dared to disobey the king because they trusted God. They said that even if the Lord did not deliver them, they would still trust Him (vv.17-18).

When we face matters of conscience, we too can do the right thing—and leave the consequences with God.

Let the road be rough and dreary,
And its end far out of sight;
Foot it bravely, strong or weary—
Trust in God and do the right. —Macleod

If God's Word guides your conscience, let your conscience be your guide.

By Dave Branon  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Do You Hear A Whistle?

Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-20 

Wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience. —1 Timothy 1:18-19

My car has a wonderful feature. Whenever I forget to turn off the headlights, a shrill warning goes off the minute I open the door. I don’t like its jarring sound, but I like what it saves me from—a dead battery.

Our conscience can work like that. When we sin or are tempted to, our conscience blows a whistle. It’s a sign that the Holy Spirit is either convicting us of sin or warning us before we do. If we do wrong, the jarring feelings from our conscience are meant to lead us to repentance. When we confess and repent, God forgives and clears our conscience.

The apostle Paul knew what it was to have a bad conscience. In 1 Timothy 1:13, he wrote, “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy.” He received the mercy of Christ’s forgiveness, faith, and a good conscience. He charged young Timothy to fight the good fight and maintain his faith and good conscience. Paul said that some had rejected these, and spiritual shipwreck was the result (vv.18-19).

Be thankful if you have a good conscience. When it gives you a warning whistle, pay attention! Then fight to preserve your faith and keep your conscience clear. That jarring sound is there to help you stay in fellowship with Christ.

Our conscience is a gift from God,
It is a guiding light;
And when aligned with His sure Word,
It tells us wrong from right. —Sper

A Good conscience is one of the best friends you'll ever have.

By Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

A burdened conscience is a heavy weight to carry.


What Happened to Conscience?
  The early morning crash of a Brink’s armored truck on a Miami highway in January held up a mirror to our nation’s cultural decline. While the driver and a fellow Brink’s officer lay bruised and bleeding, a festive atmosphere broke loose outside the truck as thousands of dollars blew n the breeze.
  Motorists stopped in rush hour traffic, then scooped up cash before resuming their commutes to the office. Thousands of crisp bills and shiny coins rained down an overpass onto a Miami neighborhood. Below, mothers with babies grabbed coins and piled them into strollers. An elderly woman filled a box. A young school girl dumped her book bag and loaded it with coins and bills.
  Onlookers and participants had plenty of justifications and rationalizations.
   “Which is more moral,” asked one resident of the impoverished neighborhood, “to return the money and leave your children improvised-or maybe send them to college and enrich the family for generations?”
   “We deserve a little something,” said another.
   “The Lord was willing for it to happen here,” one man commented. “There’s a lot of poverty. It was a miracle.”
  Police estimated that more than 100 people helped themselves to money during the melee. Middle class on their way to work made off with thousands.
  Was this a shocking event? It shouldn’t have been. What happened in Miami was born out of a cultural drift that has left us unsure of absolute right and wrong or at least unwilling to live by such a code. We reward rule-breakers and ridicule those who extol morality. Life’s ultimate reward is money and having it is the end to our worries.
  Ralph Reed said that the 1996 presidential election was about the character of the American people. Maybe the Miami incident says more about that character than we care to consider.
  There were some heroes on that day in Miami. Several people came forward and turned money over to authorities.
   “I have children, and I needed to set a good example,” said Faye McFadden, a mother who earns $5.00 an hour at a department store. “It was important for me to do what I felt was right.”
  Herbert Tarvin, 11, came forward after his teacher at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School lectured students about making the right decision. He went to police with 85 cents.
   “I knew it was wrong for me to keep anything,” Herbert told a television reporter, “and I knew if I kept it I would have been stealing.”
  Manny Rodriguez, a firefighter who recovered a bag containing $330,000 in cash, summed things up pretty well.
   “People were almost killed in that truck and people are calling it a blessing from God. That wasn’t a blessing; it was a test. The rich, the poor, the middle class-everybody should have a conscience.”


Example of conscience that cannot be cleansed: Albert Speer was once interviewed about his last book on ABC’s “Good Morning, America.” Speer was the Hitler confidant whose technological genius was credited with keeping Nazi factories humming throughout World War II. In another era he might have been one of the world’s industrial giants. He was the only one of twenty-four war criminals tried in Nuremburg who admitted his guilt. Speer spent twenty years in Spandau prison. The interviewer referred to a passage in one of Speer’s earlier writings: “You have said the guilt can never be forgiven, or shouldn’t be. Do you still feel that way?” The look of pathos on Speer’s face was wrenching as he responded, “I served a sentence of twenty years, and I could say, ‘I’m a free man, my conscience has been cleared by serving the whole time as punishment.’ But I can’t do that. I still carry the burden of what happened to millions of people during Hitler’s lifetime, and I can’t get rid of it. This new book is part of my atoning, of clearing my conscience.” The interviewer pressed the point. “You really don’t think you’ll be able to clear it totally?” Speer shook his head. “I don’t think it will be possible.” For thirty-five years Speer had accepted complete responsibility for his crime. His writings were filled with contrition and warnings to others to avoid his moral sin. He desperately sought expiation. All to no avail.


Charles Simeon, one of the greatest preachers of the Church of England, explained his coming to Christ like this: As I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s supper, I met with an expression to this effect—“That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.” The thought came into my mind, “What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer.” Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus.

Girdlestone's "Conscience"

We look in vain for the word conscience in the O.T., except in the margin of Ecclesiastes 10:20, where it represents part of the word Yada', to know (Assyrian, idû) in the Apocryphal Books we meet with συνείδησις twice, viz in Sirach 10:20, where it is rendered 'wittingly;' and in Sap. 17:11, where it seems to point to the constraining power of a sense of right. The verb συνείδω is used of knowledge in Leviticus 5:1; also in Job 27:6, where the LXX reads οὐ γάρ σύνοιδα ἑμαυτῳ̂̂ ἄτοπα πράξας, 'I am not conscious of having acted foolishly,' words which have no Hebrew text answering to them, but which find an echo in St. Paul's phrase, 'I know nothing against myself' (οὐδὲν ἑμαυτῳ̂ σύνοιδα), 1 Corinthians 4:4.

The verb συνείδω is also used to represent ordinary perception, without reference to the moral aspect of the thing perceived, in five passages in the Books of the Maccabees.

Conscience, then, so far as the O.T. throws any light on it, is to be taken not as a separate faculty which enables a man to distinguish right and wrong, but as the exercise of consciousness; and it will be seen, by noting the passages in the N.T in which the word occurs, that this meaning is generally adhered to. Omitting John 8:9, the reading of which is doubtful, we do not meet with the word συνείδησις until we arrive at the end of the Acts. St. Paul, standing before the council, says, ' in all good conscience have I lived under the government of God unto this day' (Acts 23:1). These words are elucidated by the statement made before Felix, ' in this I exercise myself, having (or to have) a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man' (Acts 24:16). He evidently signified that he was not conscious of living or aiming to live in any course which was wrong in the sight of God or really offensive to man in exact accordance with these expressions, he writes to the Corinthians, 'I am not conscious of anything against myself, yet am I not here by justified, but he that judgeth me is the Lord' (1 Corinthians 4:4).

The same Apostle refers to his consciousness that what he said was spoken in sincerity, in Romans 9:1, 'My conscience also bearing witness.' Compare Romans 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:11 in 1 Corinthians 8:7, we read of those who are eating 'with conscience of the idol' - that is, with a conscious feeling that they are eating what is offered to idols; and their conscience, i.e. their moral sense, being weak and susceptible, is defiled. See also the tenth verse.

The moral sensibility or conscience is referred to in 1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 10:27-29, 'Asking no questions because of consciousness; not your own consciousness, but that of the weak brother who has not yet attained to that liberty and knowledge which enables you to disregard heathen superstitions.'

When St. Paul is describing the end or sum and substance of the charge which Christ lays up on men, he characterises it as 'love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and unfeigned faith' (1 Timothy 1:5); by these words he means that there should be nothing selfish or sensual in love, that there should be a conscious aim at that which is good in God's sight, and a faithfulness untainted by a particle of hypocrisy. Compare 1 Timothy 1:19, where faith and a good conscience are again joined together.

The passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews in which the word occurs are very interesting and important. From Hebrews 9:9, we gather that the offerings under the O.T. could not make men 'perfect as pertaining to the conscience,' i.e. could not take away the sense of sin which hinders man from oneness with God. They did not take away sin, as a matter of fact, and they could not, from the nature of things; for if the effect of the Levitical dispensation had been to make men perfect, i.e. at one with God (see chap. viii. § 2), the offerings would not have needed repetition. If the worshippers had been purged once for all, they would have had no more consciousness of sins (Hebrews 10:2). But 'the blood of Christ' cleanses a man's consciousness from dead works, and enables him to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14); and the heart is thus 'sprinkled from an evil conscience' (10:22) in other words, the faithful acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ takes away that sense of sin which had been a bar between man and God, and enables a man to live no longer as a servant, but as a son.

St. Peter says, 'This is grace (A. V. thankworthy) if from conscience towards God (i.e. through consciousness of his duty and of his relationship to God in Christ) a man endure pains, suffering unjustly' (1 Peter 2:19). He urges that men should keep 'a good conscience' (3:16), and he reminds them that it is not the external cleansing, the putting away of the filth of the flesh, that now saves us, hut the answer of a good conscience toward God, or, as we might render it, the seeking [Επερώτημα εἰς θεύν. this passage has awakened much discussion. I am inclined to be guided by the fact that επερωτάω sometimes answers to the meaning of darash (דרשׁ ), to seek, in the O. T. The Vulgate confirms this view by reading interrogatio conscientiae bonae in Deum. Luther renders 'the contract (Bund) of a good conscience (Gewissen) with God.' De Sacy takes it as 'the engagement of the conscience to keep pure for God.'] unto God with a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21).

The verb συνιδει̂ν, to be conscious, is used in only three passages in the N.T., exclusive of that already mentioned in 1 Corinthians 4:4, viz in Acts 5:2; Acts 12:12; Acts 14:6.

Conscience was thus originally identical with consciousness, but while the latter word may be used by us with reference to external facts or to internal feelings, the former is now confined to the knowledge that a man has of the moral aspect of things. A good conscience, according to Scripture, is not only a sense of freedom from past guilt, but also a consciousness of purposing and doing that which is good in God's sight; it implies purity of motive and action; it is inconsistent with a deliberate course of sin, or with departure from the living God, and it is closely connected with faith in Christ.

Words Marking Intelligence

Coming to the words which designate man's intellectual capacities, we may beg in with the word wisdom. this word generally answers in the A. V. to the Hebrew Chacam (חכם ). this is an important word in Scripture, and is used to represent the discernment of good and evil, prudence in secular matters, skill in arts, experience in Divine things, and even dexterity in magic in the reflexive form it signifies to be wise in one's own eyes, and hence to outwit another. The general rendering of the LXX is σοφία, which is used in the same largeness of sense in the N.T. See especially James 3:17. It is moral rather than intellectual; it is the adaptation of what we know to what we have to do in this sense the Lord Jesus grew in wisdom, i.e in its exercise.

The understanding is most generally represented by the word b in (בין ), to perceive, to be intelligent. this word, again, is used with many shades of meaning, suc has to consider, discern, feel, know, look, mark, perceive, view. The LXX usually represents this word by σύνεσις, but occasionally by ἐπιστήμη and φρόνησις.

Sacal (שׁכל ), to look, to be knowing, and hence to prosper, is used to represent a certain kind of wisdom in Genesis 3:6, and a good many other passages. The LXX renderings are generally the same as those last mentioned.

One word remains to be noticed, namely, tushiah (תושׁיה ). The LXX renderings for this word are very variable. Some critics understand it as signifying essentia, or existent being. Hence it is rendered 'that which is' in Job 11:13; Job 26:3, and substance in Job 30:22. Compare the cognate yesh (ישׁ ) in Proverbs 8:21 in Isaiah 28:29, it is translated working, 'wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.' in Job 5:12, we find the word enterprise adopted. The most general rendering, however, is wisdom, or sound wisdom. Thus we read in Job 6:13, ' is wisdom quite driven from me?' Proverbs 2:7, 'He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous;' 8:14, 'Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;' Micah 6:9, 'The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and (the man of) wisdom shall see thy name;' the margin has here, 'Thy name shall see that which is.'

A Clean Conscience
Adrian Rogers

Or listen to related audio - A Clean Conscience

Main Scripture Text: Hebrews 9:11–15

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” HEBREWS 9:14

Introduction
I.      The Causes of an Unclean Conscience
      A.      The Deliberate Acts of Sin
      B.      The Defiling Associations of Sin
      C.      The Deceiving Accidents of Sin
II.      The Consequences of an Unclean Conscience
      A.      The Loss of Fellowship with Man
      B.      The Loss of Freedom with God
      C.      The Loss of Fruitfulness in Service
III.      The Cleansing of an Unclean Conscience
      A.      The Cleansing Agent Must Be Acceptable to God
      B.      The Cleansing Agent Must Be Accessible to Man
      C.      The Cleansing Agent Must Be Applicable by Faith
Conclusion

Introduction - Hebrews chapter 9 and beginning in verse 11: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle”—you might want to underscore that—“by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once [unto] the holy place”—now, you know what the holy place is. That’s the … that’s the Holy of Holies. Jesus took His blood and went into the Holy of Holies, that Holy of Holies in heaven—“having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer”—and I especially want you to notice that phrase, “the ashes of an heifer”—“and [an] ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they [who] are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:11–15)

I want to speak to you tonight on a clean conscience. Now, we mentioned something about that Sunday morning when we talked about how you’re going to face the trials of life, and we said that you could place … face the trials of life if you had a good conscience, if you had a great hope and a gracious companion—and that’s the way you’re to face the trials of life. But, I want to think a little bit more, as we’re studying about the tabernacle, of a good conscience, a clean conscience. Notice in verse 14: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)—a clean conscience as over against dead works.

Now, having read that, let’s go back in the Old Testament to Numbers chapter 19 for one of the most blessed studies I’ve ever done in my life. And so, I just want you to get your fingers licked so you can go through the Bible. And, get your pens out to jot down some very wonderful truths, because you’re going to learn a real lesson tonight about a clean conscience—about a clean conscience. You know, the worst pollution of all is the pollution of the soul. Now, pollution is bad, but the worst pollution is not the kind we breathe. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If cigarettes don’t get you, pollution must.” And, it seems like we’re just being polluted to death. But, may I tell you that the real ecology problem is that of Satan and of sin and the real pollution problem is that of sin?

Now, there is a wonderful object lesson found here in Numbers chapter 19, and it relates to Hebrews chapter 9. Now, Numbers 19 is a long chapter, and I don’t want to just start out and read it, but I want to make some things clear to you. Before I read it, if I can, I want to spot out or point out the word unclean. I want you to notice in this chapter that the word unclean is used, if my count is correct, at least fifteen times. For example, in chapter 19, verse 7—the last part: “unclean until the even.” (Numbers 19:7) Verse 8—the last part: “unclean until the even.” (Numbers 19:8) Verse 10—the middle of that verse: “unclean until the even.” (Numbers 19:10) Verse 11—the last part of that verse: “unclean seven days.” (Numbers 19:11) Verse 13—the last part of that verse: “his uncleanness”—“uncleanness”—“is yet upon him.” (Numbers 19:13) Verse 14—the last part: “unclean seven days.” (Numbers 19:14) The last part of verse 15: “it, is unclean.” (Numbers 19:15) The last part of verse 16: “shall be unclean seven days.” (Numbers 19:16) The first part of verse 19: “And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day.” (Numbers 19:19) The first part of verse 20: “But the man [who] shall be unclean.” (Numbers 19:20) The last part of verse 20: “he is unclean.” (Numbers 19:20) The last part of verse 21: “shall be unclean until [the] even.” (Numbers 19:21) Verses 20 … verse 22: “the unclean person”—“the unclean … and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.” (Numbers 19:22) Now, this is, I suppose … Well, I … I can’t say a dirty chapter; it’s not that. All the Word of God is clean. But, it deals with dirt: unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean. This whole chapter is dealing with being unclean. But, He’s not talking about microbes; He’s not talking about dirt. He’s talking about ceremonial uncleanliness.

And then, the other word that is used over and over again in this chapter—and I won’t take the trouble to point that out; you do that when you get home—is the word dead or death: dead, dead, death, death, dead, death, death, death. And, God is linking uncleanness with death. Now, uncleanliness, or uncleanness, stands for a state of mind, and a state of soul, and a state of spirit that is not right with God, and it stands for sin. Sin makes us unclean. What is God saying in Numbers chapter 19? Now, it’ll … it’ll clear up in a minute, so just hang with me. What is God saying in Numbers chapter 19? He’s saying that death and sin, or death and uncleanness, are inseparably linked together—death and sin. You see, sin causes death, and death, therefore, is the visible sign of sin.

Now, we talked about some people tonight. We prayed for some people—the families of some people who died. And, sometimes we talk about people who die of sickness and then we talk about other people who die a natural death. May I tell you there is no such thing as a natural death? All death is unnatural. It’s not what God planned for us. All death is the result of sin—not necessarily your personal sin. But, had there been no sin, there’d have been no death. There was no sin in the garden there. There was no death in the Garden of Eden until sin came. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) “The soul that sinneth, it shall [surely] die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) And, death and sin are inseparably linked together, and, therefore, death is the visible sign and the object lesson of sin. And, God uses death ceremonially in the Old Testament as an object lesson and a symbol of sin.

And, keeping that in mind, I want you to notice what God was saying here in Numbers chapter 19, when God is giving injunctions over and over again about not touching a dead body. When God is saying not to touch a dead body to these primitive people, He was trying to keep them from getting germs, trying to keep them from catching contagious diseases that might have caused the death, but He was doing more than that: He was teaching a theological and a ceremonial lesson. He was teaching that just as a person, for hygiene’s sake, would stay away from that which is dead and that which corrupts, He’s saying for moral and spiritual hygiene, we need to stay away from sin. And so, when God was saying, “Don’t touch a dead body,” He was doing more than giving a lesson in hygiene; He was saying by that object lesson, “Don’t pollute your soul with sin.”

And so … I know I’m still not clear. I know you’re not with me yet, but you will. In just a moment, you’ll understand. And, there’s a great lesson if you’ll just watch it. Remember that death symbolizes sin. Death and sin are inseparably linked together. And, if a person touched a dead body, he was unclean—not just physically unclean; he was morally, spiritually unclean, because God was trying to teach these people an object lesson. And so, as we think about soul pollution tonight, I want you to think with me along three lines. First of all, I want you to think with me about the causes of soul pollution, and then the consequences of soul pollution, and then I want you to think about the cleansing of soul pollution. Or, we might put it this way: the causes of an unclean conscience, and the consequences of an unclean conscience, and the purging, or the cleansing, of an unclean conscience.
    I.      The Causes of an Unclean Conscience

Now, what would cause a person back in this ancient time to become polluted?


    A.      The Deliberate Acts of Sin

Well, look in verse 11—verse 11: “He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.” (Numbers 19:11) Now, if a … if a man walked into a sick room where someone had just died and reached out and touched that dead body—now, it’s back in the Old Testament times, back under the Levitical system, back when the tabernacle was set up and operating—if he just walked in and touched that body, that dead body, he would be unclean for seven days. Now, remember that the death represents sin. Sin and death are inseparably linked together in the Bible. And so, this pictures a man who deliberately sins, a person who just walks in and touches a dead body.

You see, there are those of us who are Christians and we handle the dead things of this world deliberately. We touch them. We touch the unclean thing. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, beginning in verse 14—don’t turn to it, but the Bible says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) Now, to those people who had a background in the Old Testament, they understood what God was talking about. He was talking about this chapter right here and chapters like it. A Christian is not to touch the unclean thing, represented by that dead body. Any time we willfully, deliberately sin, at that moment our soul, our conscience, becomes unclean. We’re unclean. We’re dirty. We’re defiled. We’re polluted. And so, there is the deliberate act of sin. A Christian can knowingly, deliberately sin. And, that’s the worst kind of sin, for the Bible calls that “presumptuous sin,” and it carries with it the most severe penalty for the child of God. That’s the reason the psalmist prayed, “Keep back thy servant … from presumptuous sin.” (Psalms 19:13) That’s sin with your eyes wide open. A man just walks in—there’s a dead body, and he touches it when God said, “Don’t touch it.” He’ll be unclean seven days.


    B.      The Defiling Associations of Sin

All right. Now, the next thing I want you to notice is not only the deliberate acts of sin described in verse 11, but the defiling associations of sin. Notice in verses 14 and 15 of this same chapter: “This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all [who] come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean.” (Numbers 19:14–15) Now, you medical doctors who are here tonight, you have to give Moses credit. He didn’t have any microscope, and he didn’t have … he didn’t have all of the technology that you have to know about hygiene and all that. Of course, God taught him this by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And, here’s a … here’s a sanitary code that God has given to these to keep them from contagion. But, I want to remind you again that God is doing more than teaching hygiene. There’s a great moral lesson. You see, there are the deliberate acts of sin, where you just walk in and touch the unclean thing, but then there are the defiling associations of sin.

Here’s a man who just simply might walk into the tent. He doesn’t touch the dead body, but he just … he’s just in there. He just walks around. He breathes the air. He’s in the atmosphere, and God also says, “He shall be unclean.” (Numbers 19:14) You see, there can still be defilement without actual contact. Did you know that you and I don’t have to deliberately sin to get defiled by this world? Did you know that as you just watch television and suggestive things come on, or you walk through the newsstand and there’s suggestive things, or people say things or they take the name of God in vain, and problems come and temptations and anxieties … These are not deliberate sins that you practice, but I’ll tell you, this is a pretty dirty old world that we live in, isn’t it? I mean, it’s … it’s hard. It’s hard to live without just … just things just kind of in the air, just in the tent, as it were, where we are. And, we just find ourselves, just by our very associations—newspapers, books, advertisements, humor; all of this—they leave their mark upon us. And, that’s the reason that we need to get away and get with our Lord and say, “Lord, give me a bath. Lord, make me clean, for I’m unclean.” You see, there are the deliberate acts. Then, there are defiling associations.


    C.      The Deceiving Accidents of Sin

And then, I want you to notice there are the deceiving accidents of sin. Notice in verse 16: “And whosoever toucheth one [who] is slain [by] a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.” (Numbers 19:16) Now, this represents to me sins that we more or less stumble into, not presumptuous sin. Here’s a man walking through a field after a battle, and he stumbles over a dead body. Or, maybe there’s just a small bone there, and he touches that bone. Or maybe, almost unknown to him, or perhaps unknown to him, he walks over a grass-covered grave. And, he’s unclean, too. The Bible calls him unclean. (Numbers 19:16)

Now, what’s God speaking about here? He’s speaking not about the acts or the associations, but the accidents, where we just … we don’t intend to sin. It’s not sin with our eyes wide open, but it’s just … the first thing you know, we’re … we’re lusting, or we’re filled with pride, or we are using harsh language, or there’s some sort of a covetous thought that comes into our mind—concealed sins that dull our spiritual perception. And, this is the reason when we pray, you know, we ought not to … we ought not only to pray, “[Lord,] keep back thy servant … from presumptuous sins,” (Psalms 19:13) but we also ought to pray, “Search me, O God … And see if there be [some] wicked way in me.” (Psalms 139:23–24) I think it would surprise us to know how many times we’ve touched an unclean thing and not known it. I think it would surprise us to know how many graves we’ve walked over. I think it would surprise us to know how many bones we’ve fondled without knowing it. You see, just a person who happened to walk across a grave, and God says he’s unclean—unclean.

Now, God here is talking about sin. He’s not really talking about hygiene. He’s talking about ceremonial uncleanness. He’s talking about moral uncleanness. And, He’s saying that we need to be very careful, lest this vile world pollute us. God wants us to be clean.


    II.      The Consequences of an Unclean Conscience

Now, I want you to notice not only the causes of soul pollution—remember, the deliberate acts, defiling associations, and the deceiving accidents of sin—but the second thing I want you to notice: the consequences. What happens—what happens—when we become unclean in the sight of God?


    A.      The Loss of Fellowship with Man

Well, first of all, there is the loss of fellowship with man. Look in verse 20: “But the man [who] shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation.” (Numbers 19:20) Now, what was one of the consequences of being unclean in this day? When a man became unclean and he didn’t purify himself, he was cut off from the congregation; that is, there was a loss of fellowship with his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, we need to understand this: that it’s only sin that separates the people of God. The sweetest thing that any church can ever have is its fellowship, amen? Don’t you love the fellowship here at Bellevue? You know, one man was telling me a while back—he said, “I don’t understand it.” He said, “My wife and I have been a member of Bellevue Church for nine months, and we haven’t heard anybody say anything negative about any thing. We’ve never been in a church like this.” Well, he said, “We … it’s just amazing. We just haven’t heard anybody just complain about anything. Everybody is so happy.” He said, “We’ve been going to church all our life. It’s the biggest blessing of our life.” Now, we don’t want to take that blessing for granted, friend. And, I believe where the Spirit of the Lord is there is this fellowship. It is sin that divides people. It is sin that cuts people off. And, when two people cannot get along, you mark it down: somebody has sinned. May I say that again? When any two people can’t get along together, somebody has sinned. What are the consequences of an unclean conscience? Number one: There is the loss of fellowship with man.


    B.      The Loss of Freedom with God

But, number two: There is the loss of freedom with God—there’s the loss of freedom with God. Look again in verse 20: “But the man [who] shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.” (Numbers 19:20) He defiles the sanctuary when he prays. When a man like this comes into the house of God, the sanctuary of God, which in this particular day was that Old Testament tabernacle, and he were to try to come and worship with sin in his heart, it would be an abomination to God. He had no freedom to worship. Not only was he cut off from man; he was separated from God. “The Lord’s [arm] is not shortened, that [He] cannot save; neither [is] his ear heavy, that [He] cannot hear: But your [sins] have separated between you and your God, and your [iniquities] have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1–2)


    C.      The Loss of Fruitfulness in Service

All right, the third consequence: There’s the loss of fruitfulness in his service. Look in verse 22: “And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean.” (Numbers 19:22) Not only is he unclean, but he pollutes everything else he touches. “Whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean”—he contaminates what he touches. Notice—“and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean unto even.” (Numbers 19:22) You see, if a man’s not right with God, rather than ministering life when he ministers, he’ll minister death. Did you know I’d pay one hundred dollars to have a soloist not sing who’s not right with God. I’d pay more than that to have a preacher not preach who’s not right with God. I’d rather have no preaching than preaching that comes from unclean lips. I’d rather have no teaching than teaching that comes from unclean lips. The Bible says over and over again, talking about the sanctuary service, talking, in the Old Testament, about the temple service and the tabernacle service, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.” (Isaiah 52:11)

I’m not the smartest man in the world, and I don’t even rank among those who are smarter. But, I’ve got enough sense never to come to this platform with sin in my heart, and I hope to God I never do. I’d be afraid. I mean, I would be mortally afraid—afraid before God—to ever come up here, and open this book, and stand up here, and try and preach and know that I’d been handling unclean things, touching unclean things, had a defiled conscience, not a clean conscience, not a pure conscience. Boy, I tell you, you can … you can … you can bet it down, before I step out that door, friend—you mark it down—I’ve been saying, “O God, O God, I want to be right. I want to be clean. I want to be pure. Is there anything wrong, anything not right, between me and you?” because, you see, if I’m not right, I’ll minister death, not life. Everything I touch will be unclean because I’m unclean. And oh, how many people take holy things in unholy hands, and rather than ministering life, they minister death. They may preach theologically correct; they may sing perfectly, but there’s no blessing. Oh, the people may say, “Bravo! That’s good,” but God doesn’t work. Nobody’s blessed. Nobody’s saved. It is wood, hay, and stubble rather than gold, and silver, and precious stones. (1 Corinthians 3:12) You see, not only is there the loss of fellowship with man and not only is there the loss of freedom with God; there is the loss of fruitfulness in service. Everything the unclean man touches, he pollutes it—he pollutes it. Your preaching, your teaching, your singing are lifeless and cold, and this is what the Bible calls “dead works.”

Go back to Number chapter 9 for a—I mean Hebrews chapter 9—for just a moment, and I just … I want to point this out. I was not intending to go back this soon for that verse, but let’s just go back again, because I want you to see it right now at this moment. You see, the Bible says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ”—verse 14—“who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14) Do you know why some churches never progress? Do you know why some Sunday School classes never grow and they’re not blessed? Do you know why some people never win souls? Do you know why some people’s prayers never get any higher than the light bulbs? They work, they work, they work, but it’s dead works because they’ve got a dirty conscience. They’re polluted. They don’t have a clean conscience with God. Paul told Timothy, “Two things you need in your warfare: unfeigned faith and a pure conscience—unfeigned faith and a pure conscience. Those are the two things you need to fight your warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:5) All right, there’s the loss of fruitfulness in work. Everything you touch—it has a deadening effect.


    III.      The Cleansing of an Unclean Conscience

All right. Now, thirdly and finally, go back and look in Numbers chapter 19, as we think about the cleansing—the cleansing—of an unclean conscience, the purging of a conscience.


    A.      The Cleansing Agent Must Be Acceptable to God

Notice in Number chapter 19, verses 1 through 5: “And the LORD [spoke] unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer”—now, remember I said to you over there in Hebrews 9 to underscore that word “the ashes of a heifer.” All right. Now look, a heifer, kids, boys and girls, is a female cow. Isn’t that right, those of you …? Sometimes I get my animals mixed up. That’s right. Okay, I don’t want any of you farmers making fun of me—“Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: And ye shall give [it] unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring [it] forth [outside] the camp, and one shall slay [it] before his face. And Eleazar the priest shall take of [its] blood with his finger, and sprinkle of [its] blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times. And [he] shall burn the heifer in his sight; [its] skin, and [its] flesh, and [its] blood, with [its] dung, shall he burn.” (Numbers 19:1–5)

Now, the cleansing agent was this heifer that was sacrificed. Now, this heifer represents the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a picture of Christ. Verse 2 tells us that the heifer was to be without blemish; it was to be without spot. Verse 2 tells us that it could not be scarred by the yoke of sin. Verse 3 tells us that it would die outside the gate, outside the camp, as Jesus died. Verse 5 that tells how this heifer was to be burned speaks of Jesus Christ, who endured the fires of the wrath of God for us, for you, for me. And, verse 4 speaks of how this perfect sacrifice was offered. Notice: “Eleazar the priest shall take of [its] blood with his finger, and sprinkle of [its] blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times.” (Numbers 19:4) That speaks of the blood of Jesus Christ. This heifer—this red heifer in perfection, an animal without spot or blemish—was a picture of the perfect Savior and our sacrifice for sin. So, the first thing I want to say about the cleansing agent: the cleansing agent must be acceptable to God. That’s verses 1 through 5.


    B.      The Cleansing Agent Must Be Accessible to Man

But, the second thing I want to say about it: it must be accessible to man. Notice in verse 9: “And a man [who] is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up [outside] the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.” (Numbers 19:9) Now, God said, “You can be unclean, but you need to be purified.” And so, God says, “You take the ashes of this red heifer that’s been burned, put them in a pot, have a man carry them out to a clean spot, and set them there in that very clean spot. And then, there’ll be a time when those ashes can be mixed with water and brought back and be used to make the unclean clean.”

Now, what does that represent? That represents the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ forever deposited in heaven, a clean place, for you and for me. And, those ashes were an evidence of the finished sacrifice, and they were perpetually preserved for removal of daily sin and its pollution. These ashes were not used for a person who had never been a Jew and never been a part of the congregation to get into the congregation. This is not talking about a person having his sins forgiven so he can be saved, but this is talking about a saved person who, by deliberate acts of sin or by defiling associations with sin or by deceiving accidents of sin, needs to be cleansed. God said, “I’ll make a provision.” And, this heifer represented the Lord Jesus Christ. Those ashes represented the finished work of Calvary and a perpetual monument to the work of Calvary, because the Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)


    C.      The Cleansing Agent Must Be Applicable by Faith

Now, the third and final thing I want you to see about the cleansing of an unclean conscience: not only must a cleansing agent be acceptable to God (verses 1 through 5), not only must it be accessible to man (verse 9), but it is apply-able, or applicable, by faith. Notice verses 17 and 18 of this chapter; look at it: “And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons [who] were there, and upon him that [toucheth] a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave.” (Numbers 19:17–18)

Now, they took the ashes. Then, they took running water. They mixed them together. Then, they took the hyssop, which was a plant—just a little shrub. I’ve seen plenty of them in Israel. Those of us who are going to Israel soon will see some just growing out of the walls, the hyssop plant. They just take a handful of hyssop, and they put that hyssop down in this water of ashes and take it and sprinkle it upon that person—that person who had touched a dead thing, that person who was unclean. And, the Bible says, “And then he be clean.” (Numbers 19:19)

Now, what does the running water symbolize? Remember, the ashes symbolized the finished work of Calvary. That heifer is a picture of Christ. The running water symbolizes the Word of God. The Word of God is likened over and over again in the Bible to water—“the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:26) All right. And, the hyssop—that’s the most common shrub, or one of the most common—represents faith. It is the applying agent. You see, hyssop is a symbol of faith that applies the water and the blood. You just simply … you just simply take faith, hyssop, and with that you take and apply the water and the blood—the ashes representing the blood—to any sin and you’ll be clean.

Conclusion Now, I don’t know whether I’ve blessed you or not, but friend, when I see such a book and I see such beautiful truths that are, in a sense, are there waiting to be dug out, it blesses my heart. Now, now, now, some person will say, “Now, Brother Rogers, people can read the Bible, and they see all kinds of strange things in it. Are you sure that’s what that means?” Yeah, I’m really sure. You say, “Well, why are you so sure?” Well, now, just go right back now to Hebrews, and look again. You know, the Bible is a wonderful book, isn’t it? I mean, it really is. And, the more I study it, I don’t find hidden flaws; I find hidden beauties. I find little gems of truth that are just written all over.

I can’t even find Hebrews. All right, let’s see. I think … There it is. Okay, look again now in Hebrews chapter 9, beginning in verse 11, and see if it doesn’t … see if this passage in Hebrews doesn’t just burst aflame in your hand right now. And, you never would have known it, you never would have gotten the full import, you never would have gotten all of the truth—this tabernacle truth—unless you had gone back and studied in the book of Numbers. But now, read it again: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place”—you see, His blood is a picture of the blood of that heifer that was sprinkled. The holy place is the clean place where those ashes were put—“having obtained [for] eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer”—there it is—“sprinkling the unclean”—there it is—“sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ”—do you see how those ashes represent the blood of Christ?—“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God”—remember, that heifer was without spot or blemish—“offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11–14)

You see, you can’t serve God if you don’t have a clean conscience, but it’s the blood of Jesus that makes your conscience clean. And, I thank God out yonder in the glory there is that perpetual sacrifice. I don’t have to go around with sin on my soul. I sin every day. I’m … I just have to confess it to you. Man, I have to ask God over and over to forgive me. And sometimes—and oh, how my heart makes me ashamed—I have to ask God to forgive me for the same things over and over again. But, I thank God there’s a pot full of ashes. I thank God there’s a perpetual sacrifice. I thank God there’s the running water, and I thank God there is the hyssop, the faith—so common, so available. “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) I don’t have to go around with a load of guilt on me. I don’t have to go around saying, “Unclean, unclean, unclean, unclean.” I know every day I deliberately stumble into sin, and perhaps, sometimes … I mean, I deliberately sin, and sometimes I get defiled by sin that I’m not aware of. I know sometimes I walk on some graves that I don’t even know are there. Sometimes I touch some bones I have no business touching. But, I’m glad the Bible says, “If we confess our sins, [he’s] faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Now, I’m just glad for a book like this that has such truth in it to bless our hearts.

CONSCIENCE
C H SPURGEON

CONSCIENCE—Hardening. 
It is a very terrible thing to let conscience begin to grow hard, for it soon chills into northern iron and steel. It is like the freezing of a pond. The first film of ice is scarcely perceptible; keep the water stirring and you will prevent the frost from hardening it; but once let it film over and remain quiet, the glaze thickens over the surface, and it thickens still, and at last it is so firm that a waggon might be drawn over the solid ice. So with conscience, it films over gradually, until at last it becomes hard and unfeeling, and is not crushed even with ponderous loads of iniquity.


THE PRICK OF A PIN AND A HEAVY BLOW

“The prick of a pin maketh a man start, but a heavy blow stunneth him. David, when he cut off the lap of Saul’s garment, his heart smote him; but when he fell into adultery and blood, he was like one in a swoon.”

Thus it is that a slight departure from right will startle the unsophisticated conscience, while a gross sin may stun it into a horrible insensibility. Much serious thought is suggested by this most striking simile. Among other things it teaches us to dread a benumbed or swooning conscience, for it may have been brought into that condition by a terrible sin. Better far to be morbidly sensitive, and condemn one’s self needlessly, than to be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. A quick and tender conscience is among the best gifts of grace; let those who have it guard its delicacy with jealous care.
Lord, let my conscience be as tender as the apple of my eye. As well-balanced scales are tremulous at the fall of a single grain of dust, so let the minutest sin set me on the move. Never, I beseech thee, permit me to become heavy with the intoxication caused by a deep draught of evil: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”


Conscience may tell me that something is wrong, but how wrong it is conscience itself does not know. Did any man’s conscience, unenlightened by the Spirit, ever tell him that his sins deserved damnation? Did it ever lead any man to feel an abhorrence of sin as sin? Did conscience ever bring a man to such self-renunciation that he totally abhorred himself and all his works and came to Christ?

A man sees his enemy before him. By the light of his candle, he marks the insidious approach. His enemy is seeking his life. The man puts out the candle and then exclaims, “I am now quite at peace.”
That is what you do. Conscience is the candle of the Lord. It shows you your enemy. You try to put it out by saying, “Peace, peace! Put the enemy out!”
God give you grace to thrust sin out!

Conscience is like a magnetic needle, which, if once turned aside from its pole, will never cease trembling. You can never make it still until it is permitted to return to its proper place.

I recollect the time when I thought that if I had to live on bread and water all my life and be chained in a dungeon, I would cheerfully submit to that if I might but get rid of my sins. When sin haunted and burdened my spirit, I am sure I would have counted the martyr’s death preferable to a life under the lash of a guilty conscience.

O believe me, guilt upon the conscience is worse than the body on the rack. Even the flames of the stake may be cheerfully endured, but the burnings of a conscience tormented by God are beyond all measure unendurable.

This side of hell, what can be worse than the tortures of an awakened conscience?

He was a fool who killed the watchdog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. If conscience upbraids you, feel its upbraiding and heed its rebuke. It is your best friend.

Give me into the power of a roaring lion, but never let me come under the power of an awakened, guilty conscience. Shut me up in a dark dungeon, among all manner of loathsome creatures—snakes and reptiles of all kinds—but, oh, give me not over to my own thoughts when I am consciously guilty before God!

Fire such as martyrs felt at the stake were but a plaything compared with the flames of a burning conscience. Thunderbolts and tornadoes are nothing in force compared with the charges of a guilty conscience.

When a swarm of bees gets about a man, they are above, beneath, around, everywhere stinging, every one stinging, until he seems to be stung in every part of his body. So, when conscience wakes up the whole hive of our sins, we find ourselves compassed about with innumerable evils: sins at the board and sins on the bed, sins at the task and sins in the pew, sins in the street and sins in the shop, sins on the land and sins at sea, sins of body, soul, and spirit, sins of eye, of lip, of hand, of foot, sins everywhere. It is a horrible discovery when it seems to a man as if sin had become as omnipresent with him as God is.

The conscience of man, when he is really quickened and awakened by the Holy Spirit, speaks the truth. It rings the great alarm bell. And if he turns over in his bed, that great alarm bell rings out again and again, “The wrath to come! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!”

Nothing can be more horrible, out of hell, than to have an awakened conscience but not a reconciled God—to see sin, yet not see the Savior—to behold the deadly disease in all its loathsomeness, but not trust the good Physician, and so to have no hope of ever being healed of our malady.

I would bear any affliction rather than be burdened with a guilty conscience.

It is a blessed thing to have a conscience that will shiver when the very ghost of a sin goes by—a conscience that is not like our great steamships at sea that do not yield to every wave, but, like a cork on the water, goes up and down with every ripple, sensitive in a moment to the very approach of sin. May God the Holy Spirit make us so! This sensitiveness the Christian endeavors to have, for he knows that if he has it not, he will never be purified from his sin.

There are thousands of people in this country who would be greatly troubled in their minds if they did not go to church twice on Sundays. And they get comfort in this because their conscience is dead. If their conscience were really awakened, they would understand that there is no connection between conscience and outward forms


Conscientious Separation

       "A conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."—Acts 24:16.
       "If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him."—1 Kings 18:21.

The "Daily News" of May 8th, in an article on Lord Carnarvon's resignation, says:—"Mr. CARLYLE, wearied with much eighteenth century talk about virtue, somewhere requests the talker, with a strong adjuration, to 'be virtuous and have done with it.' Too much praise of what is after all but the carrying into statesmanship of the laudable but not marvellous practice of common honesty might lead the hearer to express a similarly petulant prayer. It is not at all desirable that a politician should be perpetually interrogating his conscience to see what its opinion may be as to this tax on tobacco and that alteration in the bankruptcy laws. Such a practice could only lead to very considerable public inconvenience, and in the case of the individual practising it, to something not very different from hypocrisy. But occasions may and do arise when a policy or an individual measure commends itself to the majority of a Ministry which seems morally wrong or politically unadvisable to some member thereof. When this is the case, ought he to put his convictions in his pocket, and salve his conscience with the theory of party allegiance, or ought he to go out from those respecting whom he feels that he is not of them? No one will in words profess the former doctrine, but many will act upon it. Lord Carnarvon has acted upon the latter doctrine, which everybody professes, but many set aside in practice. Of course it is important that the conscience appealed to should be a healthy conscience, not given to unnecessary questioning and quibbling."
Not only do we admire the consistency of Lord Carnarvon, but we wish we saw a little more of it among professing Christians. We know some ministers who do not believe the doctrines of the church to which they belong, and yet for reasons best known to themselves they remain in that community, and undermine the very foundations of the faith which they profess to preach. How this can be made to be in accordance with morality we know not. Surely it would be more like common honesty if they would at once show their colours, and no longer pretend to be what they are not. Some Christians, too, who never enter a pulpit, are equally guilty, for they are recognised as members of churches against whose teaching they frequently protest. They support evil systems and know them to be evil. They dissent in their hearts, but yet consent by their actions: for fear of giving offence to men, they are constantly offending God and their own consciences. Whatever their excuses may be, are they not resolvable into doing evil that good may come? Of course it is not to be desired that men should be perpetually vexed with scruples upon minor points, and ready to quarrel about anything or nothing, because their conscience is morbidly sensitive; but surely it cannot be right for a truthful man to be a member of a church from whose confession he widely disagrees; his position is a protest against his own convictions, and his convictions make his profession a falsehood. We ought to be intensely anxious to be so clear in the whole of our religious standing that under the light of the day of judgment no glaring contradictions shall be discovered in our lives; otherwise we may not only be guilty of "something not very different from hypocrisy," but we may fall into hypocrisy itself. A little tampering with conscience is a very dangerous thing, it is very like the dropping of a stitch which may lead to the unravelling of all the work. We used to say in our childhood—

    "He who steals a pin,
   Will live to steal a bigger thing."

The rhyme was bad, but the doctrine was true. If we violate conscience, even upon the smallest matter, we may come at last to have no conscience at all.
Mr. Carlyle's advice is thoroughly sound, and his adjuration is none too strong, "Be virtuous and have done with it:" speak the truth and stand to it, profess the faith which is revealed in the Scriptures, and neither by word of mouth, nor by act, nor by association, nor even in thought, contradict the eternal verities of God. We have had too much of concession in order to win a hollow peace from philosophic nationalists on the one hand, and superstitious Rominizers on the other. The thing will not work, and if it would, it is wrong, and ought not to be attempted. Who gave us the right to yield an atom of truth? Are the doctrines of (God's word yours or mine to do as we like with, to give up this and modify that? Nay, verily: we are put in trust with the gospel, and it is at our peril that we dream of compromising the least of its teachings. A straightforward, decided line of testimony is the best, is most consistent with true charity, and in the end will most promote peace.
The trimming, hesitating policy of many reminds us of Luther's words to Erasmus:" You desire to walk upon eggs without crushing them, and among glasses without breaking them!" This is a difficult game to play at, and one which is more suitable for a clown at a theatre than a servant of Christ. "When you are attempting a compromise, you have to look around you and move as cautiously as a tight-rope dancer, for fear of offending on one side or the other. A little too much this way or that and over you go. A cat on hot cinders is in an enviable position. No true-hearted man will ever bear such wretched constraint for any length of time, or indeed at all. Think of being able to go no further than the aforementioned timorous, time-serving Erasmus, who said," I will not be unfaithful to the cause of Christ; at least, so far as the age will permit me." Out upon such cowardice: life is too dear when bought at such a price.

   "I cannot tell what you and other men
   Think of this life; but for my single self,
   I had as lief not be, as live to be
   In awe of such a thing as I myself."


Conscience, Awakened, Terror of
Seeing that there had been no wars in Cain's day, and that the human heart had not been brutalised as it now is, so as to speak of war as we now do in such gentle terms, surely if he had had any conscience at all, it must have been a horrible thought to him that he had killed his brother. "I have killed a man, I have shed his blood." Surely it made him start in his sleep. How could he be quiet upon his lonely couch? That red-handed man! Guilt, a grim chamberlain, with fingers bloody red, would surely draw the curtains of his bed. Would not the spectacle all come up before his mind? The talk in the field, the sudden impulse, the blow, the blood, the look of his victim as he cried for pity as one cruel stroke succeeded another; and then the sight of the ghastly body and the streaming blood, and the crimson marks on the soddened earth. Oh, it must have been a remembrance clinging like a viper around the murderer whenever he might be! He might well build a city, as we are told he did, in order to quench these fiery remembrances. Then would the thought come upon him, "You slew him though he was your brother."
"Am I my brother's keeper?" said he, but men can talk more braggingly than their heart talks in secret. The horror of brother-killing must have haunted Cain: "I slew my brother, I, the first that was born of woman slew the second born." And then it would be suggested, "And wherefore did I slay him? What evil had he done me? What if he did offer a different sacrifice from mine, and what if God did accept him and not me, yet what hurt had he done me?" The innocence of his victim, if Cain had any conscience, must have increased his uneasiness, for he would recollect how inoffensively he had kept those sheep of his, and had been like one among them, so lamblike, that shepherd man, himself a true sheep of God's pasture. "Yet," would Cain say, "I slew him because I hated God, the God before whose bar I am soon to stand, the God who set this mark on me." Can you picture the man who had thus to be daily schooled and upbraided by a brother's blood? It needs a poet's mind to teach him. Think how you would feel if you had killed your own brother, how the guilt would hang over you like a black cloud, and drop horror into your very soul.


A quiet conscience is a little heaven.

Should it happen that, in the providence of God, you are a loser by conscience, you shall find that if the Lord pays you not back in the silver of earthly prosperity, He will discharge His promise in the gold of spiritual joy. 

He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. 

We ought never to do anything that we judge to be wrong, but we ought also to be willing to abstain from things which might not be wrong in themselves, but which might be an occasion of stumbling in others. 

If a preacher never touches the conscience, what is the good of him?

One fool in a house is enough in all conscience.

Uneven conduct makes uneasy conscience.

When the Saviour shall witness against us, and our own conscience shall condemn us, how shall we escape?

See how certain people lash out when you touch on a point about which their conscience is tender. Touch me not on my sore heel. Do not remind me of an unpleasant fact.

When they rise in the conscience, or when they are talked of in the world, they bring the blush to the cheek.

It is all very fine to be pleading "conscience," but we are responsible for conscience, as well as responsible to it. If we keep conscience in the dark, or render it morbid, it will not excuse us in wrong-doing. If a captain falsifies his compass, and then steers by it, his shipwreck will be his own fault.

It is so on homoeopathic principles. That grace which burns us with conviction of sin taking the fire out of the burns of sin. We are judged in conscience that we may not be judged.

The wise man keeps on good terms with his wife, his conscience, and his stomach.

No whip cuts so sharply as the lash of conscience.

In the Word of God you have a search-warrant for the whole Bible: "Search the Scriptures." From the Court of Conscience let us issue a warrant for the sacred Scripture to search our inmost souls.

Shall he? He ought to do so, but possibly he may not. But prosperity is not the greatest thing to desire. The plain-dealer will, at least, have a quiet conscience, and that is a pearl of great price. Diogenes would still need his lantern to find a plain-dealer.

Persons think that they are being alluded to, and even insulted in a discourse, when they are not even thought of. They have a sore place, and so they are always being touched upon it. Conscience makes cowards of men.

If they die in their senses, conscience usually drives out their foolish indifference.

Money answers everything, Save a guilty conscience sting.

My kingdom is what I do, not what I have. A clear conscience is better than a golden crown.

Vain is it to administer religious consolation where the conscience never smarted under a sense of sin.

A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds. They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. 

Custom in sin kills conscience of sin.

It is better to wear a shabby coat than lose a good conscience.

Regard the smallest action as being either right or wrong, and make a conscience of little things.

Guilt on the conscience puts grief on the countenance.

They have a sting in them, because conscience condemns.

Allow other people to be as free as you are. In the name of liberty of conscience much illiberality is displayed. We have quite enough to do if we use our own liberty well.

Whenever a rebuke comes home to the conscience, profit by it.

The reverse of the old advice—"Get money: get it honestly, if you can; but if not, get it—anyhow." Some money ought to smell badly. If the conscience had a nose, and the man had a conscience, he would not be able to live within ten miles of his money.

Plain truth suits not the man whose conscience it annoys. Those who live upon abuses are very savage against reformers.

He had better watch that fellow well, or he will be stabbing at his heart, or tampering with his conscience.

Comfort of the promises comes to those who make conscience of the precepts.

It was a saying of Napoleon's, "My dominion ends where that of conscience begins."

Conscience cannot speak peace till God speaks pardon.

Your conscience is not the rule of your duty, but God’s Word is; and if God’s Word commands it, whatever your conscience may say about it, you are sinning if you refuse to obey. 

Thou hast quarrelled with thy conscience, and thy conscience with thee. It persists in speaking, and thou desirest it to be quiet. After dissipation, in the lull which comes after a storm of evil pleasure, a voice is heard saying, “Is this right? Is this safe? Will this last? What will the end of this be? Would it not be better to seek some better and nobler thing than this?” God speaks often to men through the still small voice of conscience. Open thine ear, then, and listen. Thy conscience can do thee no hurt; it may disturb thee, but it is well to be disturbed when peace leads on to death. He was a fool who killed the watch dog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. 

We want, in this century, a class of men who are endowed with a double portion of conscience to what is generally exhibited by professors; for there are many of them who have got enough conscience to make them miserable and disagreeable, but not enough to make them honestly quit their positions. They have enough conscience to make them feel uncomfortable, but not enough to force them to act bravely for what they believe. Who wants to have a conscience that will only be quiet by being drugged? 

The conscience of men bids them distrust the word which tells them that there will be no difference between the righteous and the wicked. God has somehow written on the heart of man this judgment: “Sin must be punished. It cannot be the same with the godly and the ungodly at the last.” 2235.641 

Thank God for a tender conscience, and if you have one, never tamper with it.

A sincere Christian must maintain his conscience, even if he can scarcely maintain himself. 

Some men cannot help preferring coin to conscience. 

Worldlings may well be afraid, for they have an angry God above them, a guilty conscience within them, and a yawning hell beneath them; but we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these through rich mercy.

Lose all rather than lose your integrity, and when all else is gone, still hold fast a clear conscience as the rarest jewel which can adorn the bosom of a mortal. 

Serve God with integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will lie upon your conscience. 

The sins of others leave some kind of stain upon the conscience. I question whether you can read a newspaper and scan the story of a murder or a robbery, or survey with more distant glance in any book of history the sin of your fellow men, without being in a degree injured therewith.

A clear conscience gives sound sleep.

A clear conscience is a coat of mail. A clear conscience is a good pillow.

One said that he had a conscience which was as good as new, for he had never used it; and he is the representative of many. It would be a great blessing if some men were a little more troubled by conscience At the same time, a conscience void of offence is a quietus for fear: we are afraid of meeting neither God nor man when conscience is cleansed.

Better a bridle on the tongue than a lash upon the conscience.
If we are not careful what we say, we may have to smart in Conscience over evils which we cannot undo, which were wrought by our unbridled tongues.

Better suffer without cause than cause suffering. Better than star on the breast is a conscience at rest.

"Bless my stars and garters!" is a common exclamation but a quiet conscience is blest already.

Conscience troubled for sin may lead to repentance and salvation; but the results of sin are terrible.

Happy is the man who has a tender conscience, — whose heart is like the waves of the sea, which are easily moved by the breath of heaven; — so that, when God breathes upon him by his Holy Spirit, his soul is moved and controlled by that Spirit.

No man knows the blessedness of pardoned sin but the man who has felt the weight of guilt upon his conscience. If you have ever been burdened and crushed under a load of sin, it will be a joy worth more than ten thousand worlds for you to get the burden lifted from your shoulders: “Blessed” — blessed beyond description — “is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”


Ps 51:16-17. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:

Bring these sacrifices, dearly beloved, bring them to God now. Bring your broken spirit, bring your troubled conscience, bring your bleeding heart, bring all your trembling on account of sin; bring it all to God’s altar now.


Psa 16:7. My reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

“God makes my heart, my conscience, my inmost being, to give me instruction. What a blessing that must have been to David! A man who has no inward monitor, because he has stifled his conscience, so that it no longer holds him by the ear, and speaks with him, is poor indeed; but blessed is he who has his God and his conscience to counsel and instruct him.


TERROR—of Convicted Consciences. 
In certain places on Alpine summits the way is peculiarly dangerous on account of the frequent falling of avalanches, and the traveller walks in dread of instant destruction. Samuel Rogers puts it thus:—
"Then my guide
Lowering his voice addressed me: 'Through this gap On and say nothing; lest a word, a breath, Bring down the winter's snow, enough to whelm An army."
Thus when alarmed by an awakened conscience men walk in fear from hour to hour, trembling lest a thought or word of sin should faring down upon them the impending wrath of God. Thrice happy is he who has traversed that awful gap of terror and now breathes freely because sin is pardoned, and therefore every apprehension is removed.