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

Sovereignty of God

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
~ Isaiah 55:8-9

The total sovereignty of God over all people and circumstances, is a matter concerning which many believers remain in doubt. They may give lip-acknowledgment to it, but they don’t believe it “works” in the situations of daily life. Yet the Scriptures are full of examples of how God worked sovereignly on behalf of His people – and often in the most unlikely ways.

Many of us are familiar with the obviously miraculous ways in which God worked on behalf of His people – such as the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt etc. But we have often missed seeing the greater miracles by which God turned the tables on Satan when Satan attacked God’s people.

The case of Joseph is a classic. God had a plan for that eleventh son of Jacob to make him the second ruler in Egypt by the time he was thirty. Joseph was a God-fearing lad and therefore he was hated by Satan. And so Satan instigated his elder brothers to get rid of him. But God ensured that they didn’t take Joseph’s life. They managed, however, to sell him off to some Ishmaelite traders. But where do you think those traders took Joseph? To Egypt, of course!

That was the fulfilment of Step One in God’s plan! In Egypt, Joseph was bought by Potiphar. This too was arranged by God. Potiphar’s wife was an evil woman. Taking a fancy to Joseph, she tried to entice him again and again. Finally when she found that she could not succeed, she accused Joseph falsely and had him cast in jail. But who do you think Joseph met in the jail? Pharaoh’s cupbearer! God had arranged for Pharaoh’s cupbearer also to be jailed at the same time so that Joseph could meet him. That was Step Two in God’s plan.

God’s third step was to allow Pharaoh’s cupbearer to forget about Joseph for two years. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. It happened at the end of two full years that Pharoah had a dream…. Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh…(Genesis 40:23; 41:1,9). That was the time, according to God’s time-table, for Joseph to be released from prison. Psalm 105:19, 20 says, “Until the time that His word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent and released him and set him free.” Joseph was now 30 years old.

God’s time had come. And so God gave Pharaoh a dream. And God reminded the cupbearer also of Joseph as the interpreter of his dream. Thus Joseph came before Pharaoh and became the second ruler in Egypt. God’s timing of events in Joseph’s life couldn’t have been more perfect! We would never have thought of arranging things the way God did. If we had the power to plan Joseph’s life, we would probably have prevented people from doing him any harm. But the way God did it was better. It’s a far greater miracle when the evil that people do to us is turned to fulfill God’s purposes for us! God takes great delight in turning the tables on Satan, so that all things work together for the good of His elect.

Let us look at one more example from the Old Testament, so that our minds can be firmly established in this truth. In the book of Esther, we read of how God rescued the Jews from being slaughtered as a race. But it is amazing to see how God did it – through one small incident – that the king could not sleep one night. Haman and his wife had been plotting one night to get the king’s permission to hang Mordecai on a gallows the next morning, as a prelude to destroying all the Jews.

But while Haman and his wife were making their wicked plans, God was working on behalf of Mordecai too. “The Keeper of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalm 121:4). God prevented the king from sleeping that night, “During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1). The king listened to his nation’s history for many hours, until the day began to break. Then the reading came to the place where it was recorded that Mordecai had once saved the king from being assassinated. The king asked his servants what honour had been bestowed on Mordecai for this, and they replied that nothing had been done. God’s timing of events was again perfect. At that very moment Haman walked in, planning to ask the king for permission to hang Modecai. Before Haman could open his mouth, the king asked Haman what he thought could be done for one whom the king desired to honour. Haman, conceited man that he was, thought that the king was referring to him, and so suggested a great parade of honour for such a man. “Go and do that for Mordecai, quickly,” the king said.

How wonderfully our God can turn the tables on Satan. Haman finally hung on the very same gallows that he had made for Mordecai. As the Bible says, “He who digs a pit (for another) will fall into it (himself). And he who rolls a stone (at another) will find the stone rolling back (to crush him)” ( Proverbs 26:27). Haman, in this story, is a type of Satan who is always planning some evil against us. God won’t stop him, because God has a far better plan. He wants to turn the tables on Satan. The pit that the Devil digs for us will be the one that he himself falls into finally. Zephaniah 3:17 says (in one translation) that God is silently planning for us in love, all the time.

While Mordecai was sleeping peacefully that night, quite ignorant of all the wicked plans that Haman and his wife were making against him, God was also planning to protect Mordecai. So Mordecai could have slept just as peacefully, even if he had known of Haman’s wicked plans. Why not? If God was on his side, who could be against him?

Once we have seen the sovereignty of God, we will stop blaming people for anything. We’ll no longer be afraid of Satan, fearing that he might harm us in some way. We won’t be afraid of sickness or disease or anything else in this world.

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**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Photo by Johannes Plenio at pexels

Broken: The Heart God Revives

All of us come across others’ who say things so well that there is simply nothing left to add. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth created just such a piece in the form of a bookmark which you can download here, from her series Brokenness: The Heart God Revives

Broken: The Heart God Revives (Bookmark) By Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

The Bookmark

Proud people focus on the failures of others.
Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much  they have been forgiven. 

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people esteem all others better than themselves. 

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others. 

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right. 

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit. 

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people are self-denying. 

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people are motivated to serve others. 

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success. 

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people desire to promote others. 

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would  use them at all. 

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted  up. 

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.
Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they  know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their  broken lives. 

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn. 

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people are not concerned with self at all. 

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving  intimately. 

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a  situation. 

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit. 

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others  think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation. 

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs. 

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be  exposed because they have nothing to lose. 

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary. 

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin. 

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin. 

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they  forsake that sin. 

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or  conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no  matter how wrong the other may have been. 

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for  His mercy. 

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people walk in the light. 

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance. 

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

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**Article by Searching4Wisdom @ Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism.com / Photo by Pixabay

The Congregation, The Club and The Church

In order to help build God’s Church in your vicinity, you have to do things God’s way… the message above will help us understand the difference between a ‘church’ being a club, congregation or a church that the Lord is building. This is a prophetic message for our times.

The book that accompanies this message can be read for free, click on the book (below) for access. It can also be purchased at the CFC bookshop here. The other book that compliments this, is “God’s Work Done in God’s Way” just like Jesus and apostles. There’s a proven testimony by Apostle and Brother Zac Poonen of how this has already been done in our time!

There are many other wonderful free resources at the CFC site and here, that will truly bless you, as they have many around the world.

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Give God Room To Work

In our Friday meeting a couple of years ago, a brother shared a quote which has stuck with me, and I’ve been blessed by it since: “Give God room to work”.

Notice in John 6 what happened immediately after Jesus fed the multitude:

John 6:12-15 When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

The people wanted to make Jesus king. Is that a good thing? I hope Jesus will be King in my life! It sounds like a great thing. But it was BY FORCE – they were trying to force God to make Jesus their king in THEIR own way.

Is it God’s will for Jesus to be King of my life? Definitely. But these people were filled with all their own ideas about HOW THEY were going to accomplish God’s will, in their own power, and what type of king Jesus would be.

They weren’t submitting to God’s timing for it, or His method for it.

And I’ve seen – when I’m lacking in faith, or holding onto something tightly, then I can be temped to try to force God’s hand when it’s not there. Pushing things before the time, or not giving Him room to work in His way.

But Jesus would never push, He submitted not only to God’s will but God’s timing and method too.

I was blessed by what a brother shared in our Friday meeting some time back about how someone at his work was blaming him for some big issue that was going wrong. His coworker emailed him accusing him of causing a big problem, and with their coworkers and bosses CC’d on the email so everyone would see it. So he emailed his coworker back privately and said, “No it’s not like that, that’s not the issue…” and continued to explain the details of the issue and what the real problem was. But again the coworker kept coming back to him sending emails and blaming him for this thing going wrong, accusing him that the problem was on his side. Instead of continuing to reply to this difficult coworker, this brother felt the Lord speak a word to him: ‘GIVE ME ROOM TO WORK’.

So he stopped emailing and responding to his coworker, he just stayed quiet – not defending himself or anything. He would let God work. After some time this coworker discovered that it was indeed his own fault, and he came back and apologized saying, “Hey – I’m sorry, I was wrong. I discovered that you were right. The problem was from my side.” The problem was solved without this brother having to fight with this coworker. He simply stayed quiet, and gave God time and room to work.

And I was challenged by that thought ‘Give God room to work’. Am I giving the Lord room to work, or am I praying (with a pretense of faith) while at the same time still forcing His hand in something?

It’s easy to prevent the Lord from working in our life by keeping a very tight grip on things, having ideas about what God’s will is and how we’ll accomplish it – trying to “Help” God’s hand. But very often, the Lord wants our side of the job to be simply to “cease striving, and trust” (Psalm 46:10). Give Him room and time to work.

For a lot of situations in my life, I’ve prayed and at the same time tried to think of methods to solve my problems, and while not saying it I’ve tried to push His hand in my own way. But then after all my methods failed, I’ve found myself in a spot, where I said, “I’ve failed. Ok Lord, you have to do something. I recognize now that all my efforts are futile, I’m powerless and you want me to lean on you. I resign myself – you have to do the work.”

Imagine some difficult problem you have and you’ve been fighting and not seeing the fruit yet. One encouragement you can take is: being desperately at the end of yourself is a good place to be! It’s because now God has room to work. That’s when we can learn to pray. Not just to pray, but to REALLY pray! Where we’re not praying with a “plan B” (a backup plan we have in mind if God fails us) anymore.

It’s such a restful place to be!

Give God room to work and give Him time to work.

Isaiah 40:31 (AMP) “Those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength…”

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**By Bobby McDonald © Copyright – Bobby McDonald. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at NCCF Church