LIFE is full of decision-making, whether we are young in life or old.
I can look back today at my childhood and often wondered in making decisions,
“Should I do this or do that?”
My mother would say, “Always listen to your CONSCIENCE Mel.”
At the time, I had no idea what a “conscience” was, so mom would explain “It’s that little voice you hear inside of you coming from your heart.” Now that was confusing at my young age.
Dictionary.com DEFINES Conscience as “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in our conduct or motives, impelling one toward right actions.”
If my mother were alive today and heard this definition of Conscience, she would chime in…”that’s what I said!”
And now, in the twilight of my years, I still have trouble keeping my CONSCIENCE under control.
Managing your conscience is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control in the garden
My wife tells the story of her distaste for the squash growing up in Southern, California. She says that her dad loved it so much, that he grew it in their backyard against a wooden fence. The vines grew uncontrolled and the squash was so prolific, they had Chayote every night for dinner during the Summer months. Now I like squash, but every night for dinner?
Managing your CONSCIENCE is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control by continually struggling to keep the vines under management.
Our CONSCIENCES are also a struggle to manage.
THE GOOD CONSCIENCE:
Our CONSCIENCE can uphold us when we struggle spiritually.
The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the good fight; to keep a clear conscience when facing struggles.
1 Timothy 1:19 (AMP):
“Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) CONSCIENCE. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith.”
Our CONSCIENCE can also protect us from TEMPTATION.
In Genesis 39:7-12. Joseph was sexually tempted by his bosses wife. Joseph followed his CONSCIENCE and resisted the temptation. Because of his decision, he developed a stronger testimony for God.
THE BAD & THE UNCOMFORTABLE CONSCIENCE:
Our CONSCIENCE can also display a bad side which can fuel PARANOIA
Proverbs 28:1 (The Message bible):
“The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them;”
Let me give you a few more bible examples of “bad consciences”:
1 Timothy 4:1-2 says,  “But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose CONSCIENCES are seared (cauterized) (AMP).
That folks, is an example of a hardened conscience!
Another example I found in Scripture, was a CONSCIENCE of self-destruction in a disciple, a follower of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5 NIV):
 When JUDAS, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”  So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
So by EXAMPLE, our CONSCIENCES are not altogether GOOD or BAD.
Billy Graham said “Most of us follow our CONSCIENCE as we follow a wheelbarrow. We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go.” So the issue is managing our consciences properly. And how do we do that?
God has given each one of us the resources needed in managing our CONSCIENCES…which brings me to the BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG-STUDY, where God’s RESOURCES are revealed to help us manage our conscience.
God’s RESOURCES found in 1 John 3:18-23:
Whatever you do, let your ACTIONS be motivated out of LOVE (3:18)
A good illustration of this Resource can be found in 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul discusses eating food that has been offered [sacrificed] to idols. The question had been raised: ‘Is it proper–the right thing to do–to eat meat that was left after the blood was used in sacrificing to an idol?’ Paul’s instruction was that it was okay. There was nothing morally wrong with it. However, if this practice causes someone else to stumble, then avoid such practices.
LET LOVE BE THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE!
Using this RESOURCE as our guide, we should then apply this principle concerning our actions–
- Speaking rudely to another person.
- Social drinking.
- Being critical of another person.
Our words, actions and thoughts should communicate LOVE to the other person.
Paul says in Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
Another RESOURCE noticed in John’s letter was to submit to the TRUTH.
Sometimes a GUILTY CONSCIENCE is inappropriate. That said, there are times when I personally feel guilty because…I AM GUILTY!
The best guide in determining TRUE GUILT isn’t other people. They may not give you very sound advice.
The BEST GUIDE is God’s Word! It is always consistent, unlike opinions from others. It is unchanging.
BUT there is a challenge here in becoming submitted to the TRUTH, God’s Word and accepting what it teaches.
I once read somewhere, “The TRUTH will set you free but it will make you uncomfortable in the process.”
Here’s but one example to apply: Maybe you are having trouble forgiving someone.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive your [own] shortcomings and let them drop” (Mark 11:25 AMP).
As we submit to God’s Word in the Bible, we will make right decisions in following a consistent pattern that is pleasing to God.
The 3rd RESOURCE John lays before us is to Accept the GRACE of God (3:20):
 “Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation makes us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].” (Amplified Bible)
The Bible instructs us to throw your sin into the deepest ocean and leave it there. In addition, God has put up a no fishing sign:
If you have confessed your sin and asked God’s forgiveness, then REJOICE in the GRACE OF GOD!
GRACE isn’t a pacifier for those who want to continue living in their SIN. However, if you truly REPENT–change your direction–God’s GRACE will heal your wounds.
Finally, in verse 23, we find the RESOURCE of Putting Your Trust in Jesus.
“Now, what does JESUS have to do with managing our conscience?”
JESUS forgives us when JESUS FORGIVES us when we SIN, thus giving us a CLEAN HEART (clear conscience).
“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins…” (1 John 1:9).
BUT there’s more!
Besides forgiving you and I for our sins, He will also give you a fresh start!
A lady by the name of Louise Fletcher Tarkington wrote a poem entitled “The Lord of Beginning Again” [See Footnote [i] ]. This poem reflects the desires of many.
I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again.
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at
the door And never put on again.
In Jesus this is possible.
We can gain victory over our CONSCIENCE.
We must follow the internal leadings of LOVE, submit to God’s TRUTH, accept the GRACE of God and put our TRUST in Jesus.
Is God speaking to you about your CONSCIENCE right now? He wants to give you VICTORY. Will you accept it today?
CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –
Photos: Google Image Search
Bible Translations Used: Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.