My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me (I Corinthians 4:4).
Jiminy Cricket told Pinocchio, and everyone who saw the movie, “Let your conscience be your guide! That was good advice. The conscience is the law of God built into our being. It pokes us when we are about to do something against that law. It is quiet when we are following God’s will. Even the person who has never heard of the 10 Commandments has a conscience—thus the voice of God speaks inside of him. The conscience is an important gift for the welfare of society. It gives people a sense of right and wrong. We can only speculate what life would be like on this planet if no one had a conscience.
But there’s a problem. A conscience can be wrong. It may activate when it should not. It may stay silent when it should be screaming at us. Humans can blunt a conscience. The first time a person curses the conscience pokes him. After a thousand cuss words, the conscience doesn’t even wake up from its nap as the words pour out. Humans may corrupt a conscience. If from little on, a person is told by people he trusts that it is a sin to eat a certain food, or not work on a certain day, or wear any clothing except black—that person is apt to believe that this is the law of God. His conscience will not be valid.A corrupt conscience may even convince him that it is right to kill people who do not believe as he does. Gross sins have been committed by people with a clear conscience.
So, where does that leave us? How do we know that we are not working with a blunted or corrupted conscience? The answer is: Compare it to the Word of God. Correct it where it needs correction. If I am building a house and want to know if the board I am cutting will be two feet long, I better not go according to how I feel about the length. I might guess, but my feeling needs to be backed up, or corrected, by the tape measure.
Right and wrong are not determined by our feelings. They are defined by the holy God. When the Apostle wrote, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent…” he went on to point us to the ultimate authority. “It is the Lord who judges me.” That’s not bad! That’s not frightening. The Lord has decreed: “There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” If he clears me because of Jesus, I stand innocent. No matter what my conscience may say.
We pray: Holy and righteous Judge, you have given to us a conscience to guide us in your paths of righteousness. We admit that we have often ignored our conscience, and sometimes smothered its voice. Forgive us for that. Sharpen our conscience by your written Word. Convict us of our sin so that we may see our error and turn to you for forgiveness and direction. Grant this for the sake of the One who was condemned so that we would not be condemned. Amen.