Something within the heart of every person approves when we do right and accuses when we do wrong, and that something is "conscience". This evening I want us to consider two topics concerning the conscience.
What is it, and how is "conscience" pictured in the Word of God? If we understand what it is and how it functions, it can change our lives.
We cannot escape our conscience. We can argue with it, we can defile it, we can harden it, but we can never get rid of it. We may force it to malfunction, but it will always be there.
I. What does it mean?
A. It is made up of two different words.
1. To know + with or together.
2. It is that inner knowledge that helps us to know ourselves.
B. In the N.T. days it was used by the Greek people in their everyday conversation to describe that pain that you feel when you do something wrong.
C. An American Indian who was a Christian said:
1. In my heart there is an arrowhead with three points to it.
2. If I do wrong, the arrowhead turns, and cuts me.
3. If I do wrong too much, I wear out the points and it doesn't hurt me quite so much.
4. But when the pain is gone, watch out!"
D. Conscience is not the law; it bears witness to the law...It is not the standard; it bears witness to the standard.
1. Conscience can guide us aright if we have the right standard.
2. When Adam and Eve had sinned, they hid from God...that is conscience. cf. Ge. 3:8
3. When David cut off part of Saul's skirt while Saul was in the cave, his "heart smote him"...that is conscience. cf 1Sam. 24:5
4. When Herod heard about the miracles that Jesus was doing, he thought that John the Baptist had come back to life...that is conscience. cf Mark 6:16
5. Pr. 28:1, "The wicked flee when no man pursueth:" ...that is conscience.
II. Two Descriptions of Conscience.
A. Note: Romans 2:14-15
1. The conscience is like a judge in the courtroom.
2. The judge doesn't make the law, he only applies it.
3. Conscience functions according to the law that we have.
a. If we are given a wrong standard, our conscience will still work according to that standard.
b. The important thing is that we have the right standard so that our conscience can work the way God wants it to work.
B. Note: Matthew 6:22-23
1. Jesus compared the conscience to a window.
a. The window doesn't manu- facture the light, it only allows the light to enter in.
b. We have an inner window through which God wants to shine His light.
c. When light comes into our lives, it gives us guidance. d. However, if we allow the window to become dirty it restricts the amount of light that can enter in.
2. When a person becomes a Christian, God cleanses the conscience.
a. No matter what we have done, God cleanses us.
b. He gives us a new standard to guide us.
c. As we read the Word of God we become aware of what God says is right and what He says is wrong.
d. The Holy Spirit works with our conscience to guide us and help us to grow in the Christian life and become what God wants us to be
Conclusion: Our conscience is a marvelous servant. It was designed to work with us. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some various aspects of conscience that will help us to strengthen ours and keep us from "wearing away the points".