What is Our Conscience and Why is it Important?
An understanding of the simple principle of what our conscience is and how it works goes a far way in helping us understand the Bible. Most importantly, it helps us to understand our faith.
Dictionary.com defines “conscience” as:
the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action:
to follow the dictates of conscience.
the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
I’d eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
We can have a pure conscience (1 Tim 3:9), a good conscience (Acts 23:1, 1 Tim 1:5, 1 Tim 1:19, Heb 13:18, 1 Peter 3:16, 1 Peter 3:21).
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We can also have an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22) or a weak conscience (1 Cor 8:12)
Conscience and Our Faith
Our faith is all about doing what is right and resisting what is wrong. This is determined by the state in which our conscience is in. Remember, our conscience gives us a sense (in the inner man) of what is right or wrong.
But before we go any further, let us see why a good conscience is critical.
The Sinful Nature of Man
Rom 7:18 – 21 For I know that in me that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to desire the good is easy for me; but to perform it, I am not able. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
The sinful nature of man as described by Sha’ul in Romans 7 is the reason why the state of our conscience is of utmost importance.
Because we have the natural tendency to do what is wrong, it is important to have a good conscience. This will impel us to do what is right. Without a good or pure conscience, we will do that which is wrong.
How to Have a Good Conscience
You see, our conscience is inhibited and corrupted by our sinful nature. This is why it is important to cleanse our bodies of sin, so our consciences come alive:
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Elohim, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living Elohim?
Heb 9:15 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 which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
1Pe_3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward Yahweh, by the resurrection of Yahshua the Messiah:
As we see above, it is the blood of Messiah that purges our conscience from sinful (dead) works so we can walk in newness of life.
Without Faith in the Messiah, Our Consciences Are Defiled
Without faith in Mashiach (Messiah), we cannot have a pure conscience to overcome sin. Sin is breaking the law (1 John 3:4) and Messiah fulfills (completes) the law (Mat 5:17). Without him, our minds and consciences are defiled:
Tit_1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
If we depart from the faith, our conscience goes back to being evil:
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1Ti 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
So this is why it is important to abide in Mashiach Yahushua:
Joh_15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
What is “Conscience” and Why is it Important?
We have given a short introduction into the conscience. Definitely not a huge volume as you will find psychologists writing. But the Bible explains it in its own simple way. I could also write a book here, but I want to keep it short.
In part 2 of this I will look at how an understanding of the conscience explains all that Sha’ul meant about law vs grace. This is highly misunderstood by most believers, which is why we find the verse below in the cepher (book) called the Bible:
2Pe 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Master is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
2Pe 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
This post was intended to lay the foundation for How Our Conscience Enables Us to Keep the Law Without Being Under the Law: Understanding Apostle Paul. I highly recommend you read it.
Stay tuned. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Related (Part 2): How Our Conscience Enables Us to Keep the Law Without Being Under the Law: Understanding Apostle Paul.
Thanks Brian, you have made it so easy to understand. All praises to the most High, YHWH. Blessings!
Barak HaShem Qodesh!