What is the Conscience and How Does it Work?

Paul said, "I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and man." (Acts 24:16) How do you acquire a conscience without offense? Part 1 in the Conscience series deals with the theology of the conscience, as part of God's imagine in man (both pre-fall and post-fall), the conscience's legislative, executive, and judicial functions, how sin distorts all three functions, and how to recognize a good conscience vs the counterfeit. Dr. Kayser likens to conscience to a light on the dashboard that sometimes doesn't work properly, which should be neither smashed nor ignored, but fixed.

Categories: Man › Nature Of Man › Conscience

I am preparing to preach through the book of Esther in the future, but before I get there, I have a couple subjects that I wanted to address, and the first one is going to be a topical sermon. Actually, this will probably stretch into two or three sermons. Developing a healthy conscience is an important subject and there is a lot of confusion about what exactly a good conscience is. Some people think that a good conscience is a conscience that doesn't bother you. Not necessarily. That may indicate a conscience that doesn't work or is malfunctioning or is misinformed. In fact, one of the techniques that many psychologists will use for those who have a terribly painful conscience is to desensitize the conscience - something that Scripture speaks of as the hardening of the conscience; making it so that it doesn't work properly even though the person seems to function better as a result. And yet it is also true that people can feel guilty when they ought not to feel guilty. And there needs to be a remedy for that. For instance, we sometimes feel social guilt for things that are not sinful, and we sometimes fail to feel any guilt when we ought to. The conscience is a very valuable gift, and yet it is not always entirely reliable. And this is why the Scripture indicates that we ought to strive to have "good conscience." It uses the phrases evil conscience and good conscience over and over again. What does it mean to have a healthy conscience? And what can be done to acquire it? Obviously we can acquire that, because Paul says in the passage that we read earlier, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and man (Acts 24:16). That is the subject for today. How do we acquire a conscience without offense?

The Conscience Before The Fall (Gen. 3:1-3)

One man facetiously defined the conscience as the little voice inside of us that tells us not to do something after we have already done it. And that is quite often the way we experience the feelings of a conscience. It's negative. It seems like its an enemy condemning us. But according to the Bible, the conscience is not an enemy, and it is much more than the feelings of guilt that we experience after we sin. It also has the positive role of preventing us from sinning. Now it's true, too often our consciences are so insensitive that the only time we even pay attention to it or notice the conscience is after we sin, but I want to start off today by illustrating the three major elements of the conscience in pre-fall and post-fall man. Let me give you the elements first.

The first element is a sense of Law that is in man. Some people call this the obligation aspect of conscience that urges man to do right and turn away from evil. And you can think of several Scriptures which would indicate that pre-fall and post-fall man had a sense of law; the work of the law written on their hearts. So the first element is the sense of obligation or the sense of law.

The second essential element of a conscience is what is called the Judicial element. This is the ability of man to pass judgments on his own actions. If he does right he passes the judgment of not guilty; if he does wrong, or at least perceives that he has done wrong, his conscience passes the judgment of guilty. So conscience acts as Judge. So we have the legislative branch that knows the law, the judicial branch that judges actions.

The third essential element is called the executive. Some people call it the punitive because it carries out or executes a punishment of pain. So you have the law, you have the judge and you have an executioner. But executioner is only half the story because the conscience also gives the person a sense of satisfaction and peace if he does good. And so executive deals with more than punishment. It is the carrying out of whatever the sentence is and making that sentence felt. So the executive or punitive element condemns sin by giving an inner disturbance of shame, remorse, distress and conviction. This element also gives approval, satisfaction, peace for actions that are in conformity with a man's convictions. Romans 2:15 speaks of the conscience either accusing or excusing; condemning or approving of a person's action.

So there is the law, the judge, the executioner. And some people have added a fourth element, the predictive element; an anticipation of what the judgment of God or of others will be. Others have lumped that predictive aspect in with each of these three elements. So you can write down three or four as you wish.

Now because conscience is so often associated with pain, many assume that the conscience didn't come into existence until after the fall. They assume that far from being a gift to man, it is a curse. If your conscience bothers you all the time you might assume that it couldn't have been before the fall. And so I would like you to turn first of all the Genesis 1 where it describes the creation of man, and then we will move on from there.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. If you study the doctrine of the image of God in man, you will discover that it has several parts such as dominion, language, a sense of eternity, etc. But the conscience is part of man that reflects God in a finite way. Think about the three elements of the conscience. 1) A sense of the law. That's part of the image of God in man, isn't it? 2) What about the ability to approve or disapprove of actions - the judicial side? I think that dominion assumes an ability to judge appropriate and inapropriate action. There could be no dominion without that. 3) And then God not only gives man laws, restrictions from the tree of life, but also gives a penalty should there be disobedience and the promise of reward for faithfulness. So even though there is no experience of pain, there is the understanding of pain. Even though there is no reward yet, the simple tasks Adam accomplished on day six give a sense of satisfaction.

And I would like you to turn to Genesis 3:1-3 to illustrate how the conscience functioned before the fall. And really, the ideal of how it ought to function in a believer. And the reason we are belaboring this is that the only lesson I am teaching today is how to recognize a good conscience and how to recognize the counterfeit. We will look at training the conscience on another sermon. Genesis 3:1-3.

Genesis 3:1-3. Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, [her answer up to this point has illustrated the sense of obligation - the knowledge of law. She is obliged to keep God's law and knows that she is obligated even when Satan questions that fact. Secondly, Satan appeals to the second element of the conscience, the ability to make judgments, and the very fact that she is deciding whether or not to eat shows a sense of self-judgment concerning her actions. And the next phrase shows the sense of condemnation that would happen for disobedience and the sense of approval should she obey. And if you have written down four elements for the conscience, the predictive element is seen here as well. There is an anticipation of the opinion of God] lest you die. And I think it can be shown that there is the anticipation of what other creatures would think with both Adam and Eve. But the predictive element I think is essential to the other three so I won't belabor it. So all three elements of the conscience present before the fall, but they acted in a positive rather than a negative way. It was a gift. It was a good thing that would have brought blessing had not Adam and Eve violated their conscience. And it is the restoration of this kind of good conscience that Paul strove to have. He wasn't eager to have bad feelings, but he was eager to have a conscience that would prevent Him from sin and from offense.

The Conscience Of Unbelievers (Gen. 3:7-8; Ex.9:27; Prov. 16:25; 28:1; 30:20; Is. 5:20; Jer. 6:15; Amos 6:1-6; Matt. 27:3-5; Mark 6:14-16; Luke 11:33-36; John 8:9; 16:2-3,8-11; Acts 2:37; 9:5; Rom. 1:18-20,32; 2:14-15; Eph. 4:17-19; Heb. 10:22; Tit. 1:15; 1 Tim. 4:1-5)

Now Adam and Eve also illustrate well the misuse of these three elements after the fall. When Adam and Eve disobeyed, they did not have to wait for God's court trial in verse 11 to know their guilt. There was an instant court trial going on inside of them.

Already in verse 7 they show the sense of obligation to God's law. They know they had an obligation to obey God, that they have blown it, and now that sense of obligation is perverted into a man-made attempt to hide the evidence of non-comformity. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. This is the first crude example of self-righteousness. If you can't meet the obligation, you cover it over; you hide the evidence for not meeting it. But it is this sense of obligation that makes them seek to hide the evidence.

Then in verse 8 you see the second element of conscience passing judgment on their actions. They clearly know that they have done wrong, and they clearly know that their coverings are a useless substitute. They hide, and that in itself shows that their conscience has rendered a guilty verdict. Conscience has acted as Judge. Then in verse 10 we see the executioner at work. The conscience applies the penalty for sin by giving the feelings of guilt, fear and inward turmoil.

And the reason I have added these verses to your outline is because I want to make it absolutely clear that the essential elements or parts of a conscience are exactly the same before and after the fall. The change is not in what makes up the conscience, but in how the conscience reacts. We believe in total depravity which means that sin affects every aspect of man's being including the conscience. But that does not mean that man cannot progress more deeply into sin. And this is why Scripture speaks of some unbelievers as having very sensitive consciences and others having dead consciences. Sin is affecting the conscience whether it is sensitive, progressively hardened, or dead. But the person who has a dead conscience has progressed in his depravity to a far greater extent. Or another way of saying it is that he has defaced the image of God to a far greater extent.

Now let's begin to apply some of this to the contemporary scene. Applying it first to secular psychology, this means that when unbelievers seek to bring relief to a man with a guilty conscience by desensitizing it, (which is not always done, but it is one of the most common means today) they are merely seeking to deface that image of God as thoroughly as they can. The conscience is seen as the enemy that needs to be dealt with. But God didn't see Adam and Eve's conscience as an enemy. While it is true that their depraved conscience made them do some pretty bizzar things, (it seems silly to think that leaves would hide the evidence of their sin, and it seems pretty silly to try to run from and then hide from God. So though their consciences prompted them to act in psychologically sub-normal ways) God's solution to their problem was not to desensitize the conscience, but rather to deal with sin as the real source of the problem, and then to realign the conscience so that it behaves in a more reliable fashion. And we are going to spend a lot of time in the second half of the lesson (next week) showing what types of things need to be done before a conscience can be realigned, functioning properly and reliable. Too many churches do not spend any time in instructing or realigning the consciences of weaker brethren. Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 8 are turned on their head so that it becomes the weaker brethren's views that carry the day and become the norm for the churches.

But we will deal with that next week. Before we can get there we first of all need to understand the nature of a sinful conscience if we are to understand some of the dynamics that go on within us. We are going to go down a wrong road if we see the conscience as always being God's voice speaking from within man because many Scriptures speak about men being troubled in conscience over things that are not sinful, and on the other hand feeling an obligation to conscience to do things that God says are sinful. The conscience is not reliable by itself even though God uses the conscience to speak to men.

Turn to John 16 as an example of both principles. Let's look first at verses 8-11. And when He [that is the Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged. The Spirit speaks to all three elements of the conscience even in unbelievers. It is the entire world that the Spirit is convicting in this way. We speak of this as common grace or more accurately as restraining grace. God keeps nations from becoming as sinful as they could become for the sake of the church. And at times he allows nations to be given over to their lusts by withdrawing that restraining grace. John 1 words it: This was the true Light, which gives light to every man who comes into the world. God acts upon the conscience by continuing to give a sense of Himself, a sense of the law. And Romans 1 says that God gives them a moral understanding in the conscience that is enough to leave them without excuse. And Christ describes it as the convicting work of the Spirit. He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. But take a look at verses 2-3 of John 16. It shows here that consciences can still be self-deceived. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. Their sense of obligation is the opposite of what God says it should be. And many examples of this could be given. Isaiah 5:20 says, Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! It is possible for consciences to be so thoroughly turned around that they are convicted about the wrong things. And next week we are going to be seeing that that is true in believers as well. Never think that your conscience is a reliable guide. The Scriptures are the reliable guide and you have got to work and labor as Paul did to make the conscience function properly and be a "good conscience." It takes work to have a good conscience according to Paul. Without education from the Scripture, the conscience can make all kinds of faulty judgments. That's why it is so foolish for people to excuse their behavior by saying, "Hey, I haven't been convicted by God about that yet." And I respond, "But look at this Scripture. God has already spoken to the issue clearly." And people respond. "I know that's what the Bible says, but God hasn't convicted me about that yet." Their consciences aren't working properly. And we will be showing you how to correct the conscience next week.

You see, while it is sinful to violate our conscience, because whatever is not of faith is sin, it may be even more sinful for us to follow the dictates of our conscience if our conscience is not instructed properly. So never disobey your conscience. That will just make your conscience become hardened and useless. Don't, don't go against your conscience. It is too important of an instrument to destroy. But always be involved in instructing your conscience and realigning your conscience from the word of God. This is an area where many Christians have fallen down on their responsibilities.

Turn with me to 1 Timothy 4:1-5 where Paul shows how both Romanists and Seventh Day Adventists and others have persevered in legalism because of conscience. Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron [If you get a brand or a hot iron and sear your flesh with it, once it heals up, it will have scar tissue that has almost no feeling it in. These people had no convictions (no feeling in their conscience) about their denial of doctrines, their lies, their hypocrisy. Now here is the irony. These people have an insensitive conscience to the Word of God, but he will go on to say that their conscience is very, very sensitive to and bound by man's traditions. Their conscience is bothered when they go against the teachings of their peers. You see, if God's laws don't instruct the conscience, then man's laws will. And if man's laws bind our conscience, automatically we will be less and less sensitive to God's laws until finally we have no feeling or conviction. And this speaks big time to how we instruct our children. Is it just our word that guides their conscience, or when we discipline, do we always bring God's Word, God's reasons to bear? If we fail to continually discipline them in the fear and nurture of God, they will turn out like these people - fearful of violating man's norms and with no conscience on places where God's Word wants us to buck the status quo. These people weren't bothered by their lies and hypocrisy and false doctrine because the fear of man drove them to think of these things as normal. But they were very troubled by what is listed in verse 3 because the people they hung around with said those things were bad. Look at the kinds of things they said were bad:] forbidding to marry, [the Roman Catholic teaching on celibacy is a conscience issue. But it doesn't come out of the Bible. Paul says it is a doctrine of demons. He goes on] and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. There are many Christians who are troubled over food issues in their conscience. In 1 Corinthians, Paul said that the food issue was a major conscience issue in that church. And he adds the issue of alchohol and a couple of other issues. But there Paul indicated that some of the weaker brethren in the church had latched on to these doctrines of demons and their conscience was defiled. Now what's his remedy? Paul's remedy was not to force them to go against their conscience and tell them that they needed to eat pork and drink wine. That would be like smashing a warning light on the dash board of your car because it isn't working right. No, you fix the light; you don't ignore it and you don't smash it.

To Paul it was a matter of indifference whether those weaker Christians ate pork or not and the stronger brethren were not to tempt them to go against their conscience. You don't want anybody's conscience to be emboldened and hardened. But in 1 Corinthians Paul tells the weaker brethren that they are weak and he tells them that they need to instruct their conscience. He doesn't just ignore the issue of foods and drink for the sake of their conscience. No, for the sake of their conscience he indicates that they need to study the word. And that is what Paul does here as well. He says in verse 6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

Turn to Romans 2:14-15 for another area in which the unregenerate conscience has degenerated. It is called a social conscience, and unfortunately many Christians are plagued more by a social conscience than they are by a conscience before God. for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law unto themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. Here we see the presence of God's law, which in many cases is obeyed outwardly by the pagans, and we also see what is called a social conscience: between themselves [socially] their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. Since unbelievers have taken God out of the picture, the conscience tends to be affected more by what others think than by what God thinks. In fact, one man defined the conscience as being the inner anticipation of the opinion of others. That is not what a true conscience should be like, but that is what Paul describes it as here. between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. If your conscience tends to act only when your hand is in the cookie jar (so to speak) or when you see a radar trap, or flashing lights behind you, or when someone catches you in the act, or when you think that your spouse might find out, then there is a lot of realignment that needs to be done in your conscience. I have had times in the past where my conscience troubled me because of what I knew someone else thought, even though I knew that what I was doing was right before God. My conscience still was troubling me. That is the trap of a social conscience being substituted for our obligations before the Lord. And many times this can lead people into legalism in order to alleviate their social conscience. Your conscience has substituted man's obligation for God's obligation. And interestingly, people who are driven primarily by a socail conscience can eventually find themselves approving of most any evil act. And that is what has happened in America. We should not be surprised that things are tolerated today that were not tolerated 50 years ago. America's morality of 50 years ago was largely maintained by a social conscience: that inner voice that anticipates what others might think of me. And that conscience is becoming less and less strong because of the judgment of God. The social conscience is dependant upon God's restraining grace, sometimes called God's common grace. And during times of judgment God withdraws His restraining grace and people begin to do things that not too long before would not have been tolerated by their consciences. Look at Romans 1:18-21: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and God-head, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts darkened. And Paul goes on to show how their substitution of creaturely standards for God's standards eventualy means that God gives them up to uncleaness, homosexuality and the grossest of sins. That phrase that is repeated, "gave them up" means that God let them be on their own; He withdrew His restraining grace. Their consciences no longer had the influence of His conviction.

Prior to World War II, Germany was noted for its civilized morality. But it was only a social morality that failed them. And the seeds of iniquity that were sown by the intellectuals of the country were eventually tolerated by the so-called upright citizens of the country. Romans 1:32 says, who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. The law, the inner judge and the executive function totally turned around.

Let me end today by reading a few Scriptures which speak of the evil nature of the unregenerate conscience, the progressive downhill slide that happens over time, and the need for regeneration before that conscience can be effectively realigned. This by the way has profound implications for what our strategies should be in turning American around. Once a nation has degenerated to the place that the social conscience is no longer functioning as it should, there is nothing that can impact the culture except regeneration. And I believe America has reached a stage where a social conscience cannot be easily achieved without revival and mass conversions and discipleship occuring. As we read through these Scriptures, pray that God would pour out His Spirit upon our nation to bring deep conviction to the conscience and bring conversion.

Hebrews 10:22 says that the unbelieving conscience is always evil; whether it is sensitive or not, it is affected by sin. let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. That is a description of what happens at conversion. You are inwardly sprinkled from an evil conscience and outwardly baptized. Titus 1:15 describes this evil this way, To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

If you look through all of the verses under the unbelieving conscience you will find descriptions like a darkened or a blinded conscience because of the wrong directions that the conscience takes the unregenerate man. And whether the conscience is prompting the man to do good, or bad, as he disobeys the conscience over and over again, he finds himself becoming gradually more and more hardened in heart. Pharoah must have had an incredibly hardened heart because it was only in one verse after great affliction that he admits for a moment that he had sinned. But during most of the time he seems to feel no pangs of conscience.

Let me end with three Scriptures that indicate the final result for any who would ignore the promptings of conscience. Turn first to Proverbs 30:20: This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, "I have done no wickedness." Because this sin has become a lifestyle for her, she has finally come to the place where she has absolutely no sense of shame or wrong. And as I read the newspapers today I read of people coming out of the closet who now take pride in what once was an abomination in America. But don't just look at the unbeliever. Think of yourself. Next week we will see that there are believers who harden their consciences to the same extent. If you can sin without a pang of conscience you are in terrible, terrible jeopardy. It is an indication that God's hand of conviction is no longer on your life. You are suffering from a spiritual desertion and you will not find the sweetness of God's presence until you find the pain of your sin.

Jeremiah 6:15 describes a dead conscience. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the Lord. When a nation no longer knows how to blush, to mourn, to have a day of repentance and fasting, it is a nation that is on its last legs. America has lost its social conscience largely because the church has failed to be a conscience to the nation. But it has also lost a conscience because it has spurned the conscience. A Christian Indian desribed the conscience as a triangle inside of us that rolls around and hurts whenever we do wrong, but after rolling around for a long time eventually gets all of its angles worn off.

Turn next to Amos 6:1-5 (Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos) Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, [when sinners are at ease, it is a sign that their conscience is not working right. "woe to you who are at ease in Zion] and trust in Mount Samaria, notable persons in the chief nation, to whom the hosue of Israel comes! [Here is the orientation of their conscience. It flows from a trust in man, rather than a trust in God.] Go over to Calneh and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory? [They think they are, but there is a deception over them.] Woe to you who put far off the day of doom [They are smashing the executive part of their consicne. They don't like that light blinking at them. They cover it over], who cause the seat of violence to come near; who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; who chant to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

When you see the purpose and the importance of the conscience, I think you will agree that it is not only important to make sure that the lights on the dashboard are working properly, but that we pay attention to those lights. The conscience is a gift of God to the church. May none of you fall into the trap that the world has fallen into of seeking to destroy the conscience.

Charles Spurgeon said, "He was a fool who killed the watchdog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. If conscience upbraids you, feel its upbraiding and heed its rebuke. It is your best friend."

Next week we will look at how we need to train this best friend so that it doesn't bark when it is not supposed to, and so that it will bark when it is supposed to. But today we have focused exclusively on the nature of the conscience. There are several lessons that we have scattered through this sermon, but if you can take home these three, you will be well served.

Remember that the conscience has three things that have to be realigned.

First, it has a sense of law, or the legislative side. But the all important question is, "Whose laws is your conscience sensing? Is it man's laws, or God's laws?" How are you training your children's conscience? Is it with God's laws, or yours? If it's only your commandments that you have trained them to be guilty over, you are training them to be humanists. Your discipline must always be directed Godward. It's His laws we want them to obey. It's his holiness we want them to pursue. What about the training of your own conscience? Are you content with letting your conscience be governed with the legalism of man's laws? I grew up in a church that said we are not under law, but under grace, and they told us that we could ignore the law of God. But you know what, they had more man's laws than you could shake a stick at. They legalistically taught us and modeled to us, "Don't dance," "Don't drink," Don't wear lipstick. Don't wear earrings." And they never could give me a good answer when I would point out that God's Word allowed those things. But even though I knew that God's law allowed me to do things they disallowed, my conscience would blink a warning. What I should have done was to fix the light. Instruct your conscience about the freedoms of God's law. It's called the perfect law of liberty. But realize that you are built for law. You cannot avoid law. And what sadly happens is that Christians feel guilty about doing things the government says you can't but fail to have any guilt about doing things that the Bible says you can. What is your conscience governed by when it comes to finding a mate? By what other people think is weird, or what God thinks is weird? God thinks dating is weird. Our world thinks courtship is weird. So that's the first lesson. Your conscience will automatically succumb to some law, no matter how far out it may be, and you have to ask, "Is it God's or man's?"

The second thing that the conscience has is a sense that it is being judged. But judged by who? Is it men that your conscience is most in tune with, or the judgment of God? Our consciences have got to become God-centered. We must care more about what God thinks of our behavior than what the world thinks. Where do you go to get your sense of approval or disapproval?

Finally, our conscience has a sense of satisfaction or pain that comes as a result of the approval or disapproval of others. That's the executioner. If we don't have the fear of God, it is guaranteed that we will start living in terms of the fear of man. The conscience is built to have fear. It's of its very nature to fear something. Now fear of man can take many turns. When we think we are better than others it may take on an arrogance, pride and assertiveness because we know that others think we are better than them. It may take on over-confidence or loss of confience; self-esteem or loss of self-esteem; security or insecurities; seeking the limelight or fearing the limelight (depending on our perception of ourselves). And so, to align the conscience aright, we must make sure that the fear of man is cleansed away and replaced with the fear of God.

The only homework I am sending you home with today is to evaluate if the light on your dashboard is working right. It is is not, make a commitment to align it toward God - the one whom it was supposed to serve. Amen.

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