How to Get and Keep a Good Conscience

I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Acts 24:16)

Conscience gives you the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and desires, to discern what is right and wrong, and to distinguish between what is good and what is best. 

To help us get a handle on conscience and how it functions, I want you to think about an alarm clock. A good alarm clock does two things: It stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up! 

That’s how your conscience is supposed to work. When you are on the right path, a good conscience will be at peace (Colossians 3:15). But when you are tempted towards the wrong path, a good conscience will sound the alarm. The problem with the conscience is that, like every other part of your soul, it has been disordered by sin. 

Like an alarm clock, conscience can malfunction and stay silent when it should go off.

My Alarm Didn’t Go Off! 

The corrupt conscience 

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. (Titus 1:15) 

Acting against your conscience will bring a change in your inner life. It will change how your conscience functions. A corrupt conscience approves the wrong things. 

An easy way to see this is to picture a teenager using drugs for the first time. He knows that drugs are addictive and destructive, and his conscience tells him that taking them is wrong. But his friends are encouraging him to try them. He wants his friends to like him. So he over-rides his conscience.

In over-ruling his conscience, he diminishes its power. His conscience is weakened. It is less sensitive, and therefore less effective. Next time, the decision to take the drug will be much easier. If the boy repeats this choice again, the boy’s conscience changes. After a while he will feel that there is nothing wrong with what he is doing.

The important point to grasp here is that the conscience is corrupted whenever a person acts against it over time. When a person’s conscience is corrupted over time, it can become seared.

The seared conscience 

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:2) 

In the ancient world, doctors would use a hot iron to cauterize a wound. It hardly bears thinking about what this must have been like before anesthetic, but if you had a wound and the bleeding could not be stopped, your best hope was the hot iron pressed on your flesh.

Once you recovered from the pain, you would discover that the bleeding had stopped, but you would also find that you had lost all feeling in the area that had been seared. The hot iron killed off the nerves so that you no longer had feeling where the iron had been applied. 

Paul says, “That’s how it is with some people’s conscience.” They have been “seared as with a hot iron” (Ephesians 4:19). Their conscience has lost all sensitivity. When that happens, a person can lie, cheat, or steal without their conscience raising any objection. They feel no guilt because their conscience is seared.

As he was on the road to Damascus, that’s exactly what Saul of Tarsus thought. Do you think he was worried about doing something wrong? The seared conscience calls evil “good” and good “evil” (Isaiah 5:20). 

How to Get and Keep a Good Conscience

I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Acts 24:16) 

If a conscience has become corrupt, so that it is no longer functioning correctly, how can it become pure? If a conscience has become seared, it has become insensitive, like thick skin. How can it be made sensitive again? 

A good conscience is powered by the Spirit: If I take the batteries out of my alarm clock, it will not work. It is also set by the Word and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

A good conscience is powered by the Holy Spirit 

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8)

Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit. When he comes, when he begins working in your life, what you can expect is that he awakens your conscience. When the Holy Spirit comes, he wakens you up to reality. Jesus describes that reality in three ways—sin, righteousness, and judgment: 

The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to sin

The first work of the Holy Spirit is deeply disturbing—he activates your conscience. He brings you to a place where you see your own sin.

The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to righteousness

You don’t know what righteousness is until you know Jesus. When you get to know him, you see that his righteousness is so far beyond what you have at your best that you haven’t a hope of getting near him.

The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to judgment

The Holy Spirit convinces of sin and righteousness and judgment. A true Christian wants more of this, not less, because that is what authentic godliness is looking for.

It wants to know more of its own sin and more of God’s righteousness, so that it might embrace God’s mercy even more. 

A good conscience is set by the Word of God 

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11) 

If the alarm clock is to function, it has to be powered, but it also has to be set. A good conscience is powered by the Spirit and set by the Word. Hiding God’s Word in your heart will train your conscience to sound the alarm and keep you from sin. 

Are you, like David, hiding God’s word in your heart? Or is it just flitting across your brain? When You hide God’s Word in your heart that Word shapes and strengthens your conscience. And a good conscience is your best defense against sin and temptation.

A good conscience is cleansed by the blood of Christ 

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:14) 

This is an amazing promise! Christ cleansing our consciences from acts that lead to death! 

How does he do it? By the blood of Christ, because on the cross he offered himself unblemished to God! He offered himself—his unblemished, perfect life—as a sacrifice to God for us on account of our sins. Therefore, he alone is able to cleanse our consciences through his blood. 

Your conscience may have been corrupted, even seared. Christ can make it good. That’s what redemption is all about. It is powered by the Spirit, set by the Word, and cleansed by the blood.

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*** By Colin Smith at Unlocking the Bible / Picture by Chandra Elancher

The Lord Doesn’t Wink At Sin

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” – Romans 6:1-2

Sin. It’s something most of us would rather not think about. For the unsaved person, sin is something that separates them from God, due to his perfect holiness. Yet for the Christian, their sin has been paid for. When God looks at them, he doesn’t see their sin, but instead righteousness.

How can that be? The answer is Jesus.

Jesus took the place of us on the cross. He paid the price of our sins with his very life and his holiness was accounted to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God made it possible for us to be with him through the blood of his holy Son. Instead of condemnation, we receive grace. Instead of rightful punishment for our sins, God sees us as his sons and daughters. Indeed, this is the miracle of the Christian faith for all who believe.

But this brings up an important question. If our sin is already paid for, why should we stop sinning? In fact, doesn’t the vastness of our sin just make his grace more beautiful? Shall we sin that grace may abound?

Shall We Continue in Sin?

Paul demolished this dangerous line of thought in Romans 6. Christ died to free us from sin, not enable us to sin. When Jesus died, he was releasing us from our bondage to sin, because that is what sin is — slavery. Sin is what separates us from God. It’s damaging, and for the unredeemed, it is damning (Romans 6:23).

 

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:6-7 

So, shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul replies with a resounding “God forbid” (Romans 6:2). To desire to continue in sin shows a misunderstanding of this abundant grace and a contempt for Jesus’ sacrifice. Either we believe what God says is true or we don’t. Either we take him at his word when he equates sin to death, or we do not believe him at all (Ephesians 2:1).

What is the point of the Christian faith if we get to pick and choose what we want to believe? Do we think God is that small, insignificant or somehow uninformed? Do we trifle with the very thing that God sent his Son to save us for? Do we misuse the grace that he gifted us with in his death and resurrection? Surely not.

Sin and Grace

Grace is a gift. Forgiveness of sins and his salvation are gifts. Grace is not, however, a license to sin. Throughout the Bible, fathers of our faith are seen distressed, tormented by their sin.

Consider David after his adultery with Bathsheba or Peter after denying Christ (Psalms 51:17 and Matthew 26:75). They did not discount their sin as simply something atoned for. Just because the Christian’s sin is paid for by Jesus, sin is still damaging to the believer and their relationship with God.

When David tried to ignore his sin, his “bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalms 32:3). He did, however, find freedom in confession.

 

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” – Psalms 32:5 

A Christian who pursues sin despite claiming Christ as their Savior is living outside the blessing and fullness of the relationship that comes with an obedient life. We cannot equate grace with freedom to sin. Instead, we should be thankful that grace provides freedom from sin and its eternal consequences.

Doesn’t that kind of grace make you want to obey the one who set you free?

What Is Sanctification?

 

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:5-17

The Christian’s spiritual journey doesn’t begin and end at a one-time prayer of confession. When we truly see our need for God, his grace and Christ’s sacrifice for us, we will want to obey him. Why? Because we will overflow with love and gratitude that the God of all creation cares enough to save us from ourselves. And if we love him, we trust him when he calls us to higher things. This pursuit toward Christ, and refining of our faith, is sanctification. Sanctification is progressing toward Christlikeness. A Christian cannot pursue both Christlikeness and sin.

So Christians, remember his abounding grace toward you. Turn from sin and embrace your new life as a vessel of light. You are dead to sin, alive in Christ.

Now go live it.

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***By Lizzie Hoover at Grand Canyon University: gcu.edu

Needing the Flow of Oil

The Church needs the power and filling of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is pictured as oil. The oil made the lampstand burn in the tabernacle. The priests needed to make sure that the oil was always there.

You know that in the parable that Jesus spoke about his second coming, it was the lack of oil in the lamp that prevented some virgins from being ready. They were virgins. They were all virgins. It’s not five virgins and five harlots. All ten had a lamp that was burning. We know that all ten had lamps that were burning because when the bridegroom came at midnight what the foolish virgins said was: Our lamps are dying out. It’s not that they were never burning. External light speaks of what Jesus said: Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works (your external works) and glorify your Father in heaven. Lamp speaks about our external testimony. Here are virgins that had a good external testimony like most people in the church. But among virgins with a good external testimony, five were not ready for the coming of Christ because they lacked something.

Five of them, in their garments, maybe in a pocket in their garments, they had a hidden flask of oil. That was the only difference. They had a hidden life which the other five didn’t have. That is what ensured that their lamps would still be burning when the bridegroom came. So what the Lord was emphasizing there was their hidden life before God.

External testimony does not necessarily make us ready for the coming of the Lord.

He answered and said to those five virgins in Matthew 25:12: “I do not know you” . What does that mean? It means “I do not have that intimate, personal relationship with you”.

Knowing is used in the Old Testament for the most intimate relationship in marriage. Adam knew his wife. It speaks of that close, intimate relationship between a husband and wife. Spiritually, it speaks of a close, intimate relationship with Jesus.

In secret and private, Adam knew his wife. Others knew their wives. It is always in private and secret. It is that secret of Jesus knowing me spiritually, very intimately. Jesus could say like: You did a lot of things for me but I didn’t know you intimately. You didn’t have an intimate walk with me in secret. So Jesus said: Be on the alert.

This light is also described in Revelation 1. He said: The lampstand is the church.

The ultimate goal of the Lord and of the Holy Spirit is to bring together a whole lot of people who are gripped by the challenge of this inner life and who want to have a vessel or flask full of oil and to bring them together and make them one in a church and not just as individuals who have an inner life. There were five wise virgins and they were meant to be one. This is a picture of a church. There were a number of people who had this inner life who were together ready for the coming of the Lord and that is God’s ultimate goal.

The ultimate goal of God in this day and age is to build a church. Not a bunch of holy individuals, even if they have an inner life, who float around but holy individuals who come together, five of them or ten of them, wise virgins with flasks of oil in their hidden life, who come together and are a corporate testimony for the Lord. The main thing that the Church needs is that flow of oil that keeps it burning all the time.

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**Transcript adaption of the message: The Church – The Pillar of Truth – Atlanta 2013 by Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/  / Photo by Burak Kebapci

A Good Thought For The Day…

Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running?

Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge, and Resentment running right now.

Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and select Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error- Program not run on external components.” What should I do?

Tech Support: Don’t worry. In non technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others. Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive Self, Realise Your Worth, and Acknowledge Your Limitations.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over my Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Yes, that means Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. This Love program is freeware.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)


*Prayer for forgiving others