How do we define Conscience? Kevin Deyoung says, "Conscience is the moral faculty within human beings that assesses what is good and what is bad. He also says the conscience is what aids us in acquiring knowledge- and understanding in ethical and moral matters.
How the Spirit works with our consciences according to scripture.
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Everyone has a Conscience.
14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
Kevin Deyoung notes the conscience does two things..
One it is to be a prosecuting attorney to convict us of sin when we violate God’s law.
Two the conscience is also a defense attorney. It defends us as we seek to do what is right.
What did the apostle Paul think about the conscience?
2 Corinthians 1:12–24
12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you. 15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
Notice in verse 12 he talked about his conscience, but says a few things before it.
He says three things about the human conscience.
1. Simplicity, acted with pure motivations.
2. sincerity, forthright, honest, and candid.
3. Conscience testifies that he acted in a God-honoring away.
Paul speaks about the conscience about a dozen times in scripture, some examples include.
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit--
2 Timothy 1:3
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
What are some dangers of a sinful conscience.
Our conscience can be evil.
Hebrews 10:22–25 ESV
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Our conscience can be seared.
1 Timothy 4:2 ESV
2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
to be seared means you can’t feel anymore.
Our conscience can be defiled.
Titus 1:15 ESV
15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
Celebrates what is impure, and denigrates what is good.
Weak Conscience- accuses us of things that are not really wrong. One example is found in 1 Corinthians 8.
1 Corinthians 8 ESV
1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
and again in 1 Corinthians 10.
1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1 ESV
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. 1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
How to live with a clear conscience?
1 Peter 3:16 ESV
16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
we turn from our sin.
We turn to Christ.
1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Puritans said - the conscience is either the greatest friend or the greatest enemy in the world.