I had a conversation with my aunt this evening whilst shamefully consuming fast food for dinner (nothing but wholesome nutrition for my family, ha ha) and somehow we ended up on the subject of conscience. Oh yes, I was saying that its not easy for me to just share with anybody that I believe God communicates with me. I feel comfortable saying that here, but telling someone like say my mother, "oh yeah-God and I-we talk." ...well, that's a different story.
But anyway, that led me to a tangent about the conscience.
I said to my aunt, "I suppose everyone hears from God really. In the form of our conscience."
Bare with me. Here was my logic. Most of us, if not all of us, at somepoint have gone to do the wrong thing or have just plain avoided doing the right thing.
Briefly I will provide an example to illustrate the difference there in case some of you reading are wondering, "aren't they the same thing?"
A personal example for me of Avoiding the right thing is when I was leaving wall-mart the other week and saw a man standing in the parking lot holding a cardboard sign and I purposely drove a different direction as to avoid him. I personally feel that the right thing would have been to pass him and see what his sign said and if I could offer help. But I didn't. I don't have much to give. So I avoided the situation. I avoided the right thing. And as I drove off I nearly cried.
Actually doing the wrong thing, well, that's pretty self explanatory. In my wall-mart story the wrong thing, (really wrong thing) would have been to speed past the man yelling something crude or mean...or to honk my horn at him or something. All of which would have been the absolute wrong thing to do. And all acts I would never perform.
Sometimes, I realize, "the wrong thing" isn't so clear cut. We are faced with choices everyday and despite our best intentions we occasionally make ones that aren't so great, and may even be considered wrong.
I reckon what I'm really referring to here when we go to do something we know is wrong or when we choose to avoid something we know is right. I believe we all have little voice in our heads that speaks up in these moments that says "hey, you know you shouldn't do that"(in the case of choosing to do something wrong) or "hey, you know you need to do that." ( in the case of avoiding the right thing).
My argument earlier this evening was that this little voice, known commonly as our conscience, was really God speaking to us.
Stick with me.
Have you ever went to do something you knew was wrong but a voice inside says, "no this is wrong?"
Its that classic scenario of having a devil on,one shoulder and an angel on the other and they're both whispering to you.
I saw a cartoon of a dog with an angel on one side saying "scratch at the door" and a devil on the other side saying "pee on the rug". Lol.
So back to my agrguement...or perhaps "theory" would be a better term. How can a person want to do the wrong thing but at the same time tell themselves "no, do what's right". Isn't that a contradiction? Either we are all double minded or our "conscience" is really God trying to help us make good decisions.
This Was my way of thinking earlier.
I decided to do some studying on the matter. I did a little digging (sadly not a full fledged in depth analysis, but a light study). Here's what I found on "gotquestions.org" regarding the conscience.
"Question: 'what is the conscience?'
Answer: the conscience is defined as that part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in Conformity to our value systems. The Greek word translated ' conscience' in all new testament references is suneidesis, meaning ' moral awareness' or moral consciousness. The conscience reacts when one's actions, thoughts, and words confirm to, or are contrary to, a standard of right and wrong."
What I take away from this is that the performance of our conscience is based on our value system, the standard we hold for right and wrong. When we are young our parents teach us right from wrong. (Ok, in healthy parent-child relationships that is what they do. My mother has tried to convince me to lie before. Shaking my head) As Christians we have a whole lovely book provided to us as the ultimate standard of right and wrong. Well, perhaps I shouldn't say "as Christians..." as really the Bible is provided for everybody. "As Christians" its important we utilize it. Unfortunately the path is narrow and few follow it. (That's were decipleship comes in right? Get as many people as we can to walk that narrow path with us and expand the kingdom).
Where was I? Ah- I looked up some bible verses dealing with the word "conscience" as well. (You didn't think I forgot to include scripture did you? Oh "ye of little faith" <---also scripture)
There are more than three of course but, well...I do need sleep. Lol
" Paul, looking intently at the council, said, ' Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.' "
So...Ill put this in my own words, correct me y'all if Im wrong- Paul is basically saying here that he had lived with a clean conscience or had no guilt before God up to that day.
Another verse baring the word " conscience" is Hebrews 10:22 " let us draw near with a sincere heart in full Assurance of Faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
I read a commentary on this which basically states that this verse is referring to the blood of Jesus making us righteous. Of course he died for our sins, which, I reckon is what "an evil conscience" refers to. I mean if "conscience" means "moral awareness"... What then does "evil conscience" or evil "moral awareness" mean? Well, I have seen several foot notes when reading my Bible, for the word "evil" that will say "or unclean". If you google " synonyms for the word unclean, as I just did, it will tell you a synonym, in regards to biblical use, is " ritually impure". So an evil conscience is one that is ritually impure, unclean. A word I find fitting is "corrupt". An "evil conscience" is one that has been corrupted, its ritually impure, its morally unaware, or morally defiant. This is again, putting things in my own words. ( ha the speaker thought I said putting things in my Android)
1 Timothy 1:19
" keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith."
Oh my. This one really caught my attention.
To begin we have the phrase " good conscience" or good moral awareness. " which some have rejected". Oh man. "REJECTED". Now, earlier I said we have the Bible or God's word as our moral standard. If we uphold its precepts (or you know, try our best to uphold them. Nobody is perfect.) then we will have a good conscience or good moral awareness. Im hoping Im making sense. If we use the Bible as our guide for right and wrong we will strengthen our moral awareness, or our conscience. This verse says that some have rejected a good conscience. They turned their backs on it. In effect they rejected God's word. Lets just be honest for a minute. Having a good conscience means being very morally aware. It means following what's right. If a person rejects a good conscience they must then also be rejecting God's word. How can you say you accept the Bible, His word, the standard for right and wrong while at the same time rejecting a good conscience?
Im not sure if I'm making sense but I don't know how to say it any clearer or any differently.
The end of that verse is "and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith."
Reject a good conscience, reject the Word, reject what's right, and "suffer shipwreck". Ouch.
My its late. I've been at this a While.
So before I did my research my theory was that our "conscience" was really God speaking, keeping us on track. After my research I see that our conscience is our "moral compass", our 'moral awareness". Having a good conscience means we are aware of what's right and try to uphold it. With a good conscience, when you make a mistake, or do something that violates your conscience, you feel guilty.(remember "guilt says 'I did bad' shame says 'I am bad' ") I guess when you look at it that way guilt is not a bad thing. Its a sign at least, that you're bothered that you did something wrong, as apposed to not caring at all which can just be dangerous. Which leads me to the second kind of conscience. An evil conscience. *Manical laugh* An evil conscience is one that's corrupt, unclean, " ritually impure". If you have an evil conscience youre not very morally aware.
So what about the small voice? Well, I still believe that to be God. Unfortunately, there are two forces at work here. Back to that classic "devil on one shoulder, angel on the other" When we are confronted with a choice to either do the right or the wrong thing, there are two forces working to influence us. In my joke earlier with the dog, the side with the devil tells him "pee on the rug". I think most of us can agree that the enemy is pretty persistent. He wouldn't stop at "pee on the rug." itd go something like, "its late anyway. Your owner doesn't want to get up right now, look, he's comfortable over there on the couch. Why bother him? Just pee on the rug and save both of you some trouble. He'll clean it up eventually".
The enemy works by trying to entice us ino the wrong thing, trying to convince us it's really the right thing. He tries to twist, to corrupt our thinking. Overtime, if we're not villigent, he can fool us enough to where he corrupts our conscience.
On the other side, the dog had the angel, or more accurately God, (hmmm... perhaps even more accurately- the Holy Spirit?) telling him, " scratch at the door". In my experience, when God speaks, He is concise. Once He told me, "turn around and go home." Short, sweet, to the point. I didn't get an explanation. "You see Christina, if you don't heed my warning you will spend the rest of you're day in an awful mood. You'll regret it if you keep going." (and I did.) " turn around and go home" was all He said. When I kept driving He didn't come back with, "Hey! Didn't you hear Me?". Nope. He left it to me to listen or not. (Ah...free will.)He must have an "I'm only gonna tell you once!" rule. He also didn't hit me with an "I told you so" when I didn't listen.
Back to the dog. He has two choices, "scratch at the door" or "pee on the rug". Two forces are working to influence him. But ultimately its his choice.
Two forces are working to influence us too whenever we're faced with a decision between right and wrong. So how do we safeguard ourselves so we don't fall pray to the enemy's influence rather than heeding to the influence of God or the Holy Spirit (which dwells inside us)? We study the Word, the standard for right and wrong. The more knowledge we arm ourselves with the easier it is to fight the enemy and resist his influence. I believe that the stronger we build our conscience, our moral awareness, the more we will hear that small voice, the Holy spirit, trying to guide us.
Briefly I want to quote again part of that answer on " what is the conscience?" from gotquestions.org.
"Induces... feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in Conformity to our value systems."
We need to let the Word of God be our value system and conform our actions thoughts and words to it. Is there any better feeling of pleasure or well-being than when we follow God? (Nod your head no.)
Keep in mind, we are not perfect. You reading- yeah YOU- you're not perfect. Im not saying that to be negative or rub it in. Its important to accept that you're going to fall sometimes. If we all did everything right 100 percent of the time we wouldn't need God and how sad would that be? It takes humility to go before God and say, "I need You." When you fall, fall before Him. He'll forgive you. Don't let yourself become defeated when you violate your conscience and go through feelings of mental anguish and guilt. Consider it a blessing. You get to learn and grow from that mistake, you get to build you're relationship with God. He's not looking for perfect, He's looking for willing.
And with that dear friends, I think I will say goodnight. And I believe I do so in good conscience.
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