“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 English Standard Version
Someone commented on my “Sin Still Happens” post about how nice it would be if we had a natural red flag warning system in our heads/hearts. I thought to myself we do each have a built-in red flag system called “Conscience”.
“The Lord gave us a mind and conscience; we cannot hide from ourselves.” Proverbs 20:27 Good News Translation
Do you think our conscience can be trusted?
I believe God cleverly engineered it into our very being. But do we bear any responsibility where conscience is concerned? Read on.
Merriam-Webster defines conscience as, “the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.”
A Google definition says conscience is “An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.”
Which definition do you think is correct—Webster’s or Google? Can you explain your answer?
I’d venture to say in my opinion, they are both correct. According to www.gotquestions.com, “The conscience is the servant of our own individual value system.”
So our value systems of belief start forming from what we are exposed to as children. We’re influenced by family, church or religious training, school, community, culture and friends. Each of us decides over time to choose from these experiences and exposures what we believe to be true. This makes up our individual value system which our conscience follows. So we must choose our truths wisely. Or. . . results could be disastrous.
Some people are actively engaged in this process of forming values and some are passive, believing whatever comes across their mind’s path. We know the mind is an incredible organ more intricate than any computer man can create. So shouldn’t we be concerned about the values we choose as input for our personal filter systems?
I think so. If we want to use our natural flag system, we need to be intentional. We need to examine the input in our value systems from our past and determine what stays and what must be deleted to line up with scripture.
As Christ followers we choose the moral code set out for us first in the Ten Commandments and then the rest of the written Word to be input for our value system. But we must know what the Word of God says before that data can be entered into the grid system of our conscience.
As children we are taught on a child’s level. As we grow we need to actively read and learn what the Word says to update the information in the memory banks of our conscience. Using the gift God gave us of a healthy mind we continue to process the scripture throughout our lives, always updating and adding information as well as experience.
If something learned from the past is wrong, we need to update it or delete it altogether. A constant check on our value system input.
Again from www.gotanswers.com, “An immature or weak value system produces a weak conscience, while a fully informed value system produces a strong sense of right or wrong. In the Christian life, one’s conscience can be driven by an inadequate understanding of scriptural truths and can produce feelings of guilt and shame disproportionate to the issues at hand. Maturing in the faith strengthens the conscience.”
So if we diligently maintain the data of our value system included in our conscience it will be strong and we can use it as a yellow flag of caution or direction. However, since it can only respond to what we choose to value, can we trust it wholeheartedly?
I would say, “No.” Because the reliability factor lies in how well we program and care for our conscience. Unlike God’s revealed Word, our conscience is changeable and fallible.
Some people simply neglect their conscience, believing it works automatically which certainly doesn’t lead to a healthy, reliable conscience. Each of us is responsible for programming, updating and cleaning our own conscience.
If we do the work to maintain our conscience (proper programming, updating and cleaning) then we can use it as a guide but even then it must pass the test of lining up with the ultimate flag system of God’s Holy Spirit and Word which will never contradict each other. So ongoing maintenance and subordination to God’s Word are the keys to a trustworthy conscience.
You cannot FLURISH without a purified conscience.
“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14 English Standard Version
Shine on. . .