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This sermon – A Clear Conscience Before God and Man – was originally preached 2013.06.02 by Leon Yoder.
Passages used: Acts 24:14-16, Romans 9, Romans 2, 1 Samuel, 1 Timothy 4:2, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8-10, Hebrews 9, John 16:13, 1 Timothy 1:9, 1 John.
The conscience is a valuable gift from God. A spiritual compass of sorts.
Even with the infection of sin from the fall, a man has within him an idea of what is good and bad, right and wrong. If a man’s conscience is working at all he knows where he is at in relation to the inner standard that God has placed within him.
The conscience points us to do what is right.
The Dulled Conscience
The conscience can change. David had several opportunities to kill Saul. David cut off a bit of Saul’s garments and “his heart smote him.” David felt as if he had disrespected the king that God had put in place for Israel.
David’s conscience was dulled and out of balance when he later was on the roof of his castle and saw a neighbor’s wife. His conscience hadn’t left him because David recognized his wickedness when Nathan came and confronted him.
When a healthy conscience is wronged there is a discomfort. A deadened conscience doesn’t feel much of anything when he does wrong.
There will be people in hell who died with an easy conscience.
The Sensitive Conscience
On the other hand there are many people who have an overly sensitive conscience. This can be seen in lack of assurance that they are saved, or being overly concerned about little things that shouldn’t be an issue.
Often someone who struggles with this has an overabundant focus on themselves and their flaws instead of focusing on the work of Christ in their lives.
This can also be a result of confusion and lack of education in the word of God.
There will be people in heaven who died struggling with doubt.
If the conscience is working correctly the people who are doing wrong, they will know they are doing wrong. Also people who are doing what they should be doing will know that they are not doing wrong.
Elements of Educating the Conscience
- The Holy Spirit – the teacher, helps to “calibrate” the conscience.
- The Bible – also teaches us, God’s law does not change. The Bible is the final authority that our conscience should be basing its convictions on.
- Responding correctly – One of the big ways that our conscience is adjusted is in how we respond to situations. Responding correctly strengthens our conscience. Disregarding our conscience causes a breakdown in how our conscience sees the things that we do.
- Christian Fellowship – Being with other Christians is a good thing for our consciences. We can be encouraged to face our struggles with a conscience that is “in tune.”
- There are also wrong teachers – People want to go to others, those who can ease their suffering of guilt.
We have a guidance system. We don’t want to be at a place where our lives are grieving the Holy Spirit and we are not being grieved. We want to grieve with the Holy Spirit about sin in our lives.
We have a part to play in the maintenance of the guidance system that God has given us. We want to live like Paul lived and tells us He did in Acts 24:16.
“So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”