[Keep] a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:16
We have undoubtedly, at one time or another, thanked our Creator for our healthy bodies, sound minds, creative emotions, and memories that bless. Should we also thank God for the moral voice in us: our conscience?
Saint Paul writes that people not under the influence of God’s Word also have consciences “bearing witness” and causing their thoughts to either “accuse” or “defend” them. This says that conscience, even in the unconverted, is a moral monitor. It functions as a judge. The basis on which conscience either accuses or excuses people is God’s moral law “written on their hearts” (Romans 2:15). Also in pagan societies, where the Ten Commandments in written form were never taught, there remains a trace of moral awareness. Conscience and the moral law tell them that it is wrong to kill, wrong to steal, and the like. The ancient Inca people of Peru had three rules: 1) Don’t steal, 2) Don’t lie, and 3) Don’t be lazy. This shows that conscience and the internally inscribed moral law are imperfect and incomplete in the unconverted.
Then Bible speaks also—and especially—of the Christian’s conscience. It acts on the basis of God’s Word in the heart renewed by faith. Saint Paul speaks of it as properly related to faith and its fruits, writing to Timothy about “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Saint Peter asks his readers to give witness to their faith “with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
It is often said, “Follow your conscience!” This is good advice, provided that it is not an erring conscience but one correctly lined up with God’s Word.
Thank God for a good conscience? Indeed, for it goes with the “whole package” of being a Christian, completely redeemed by the blood of Christ and completely equipped “to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
PRAYER: Lord God, for Jesus’ sake, give me a clear conscience so I may live with a pure heart. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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