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TODAY’S BIBLE READING:
1 Chronicles 2:18–4:4
TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):
Acts 24:16 (CSB): “I always strive to have a clear conscience toward God and men.”
REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):
Disney movies are known for their songs that have catchy toons. Many years ago, Disney brought the story of Pinocchio to the big screen with a song that included the lyrics: “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
While this and other Disney songs bring the warmth of nostalgia to the middle-aged and older generations, as Christians, we must reject this particular truth claim.
Ultimately, our conscience is not our guide. If it were, it would be a sorry one indeed.
Because while our conscience has a basic awareness of what is right and wrong, it can be trained or it can be shut down. The Apostle Paul said that some folks had shut their conscience down so many times that they no longer felt the pangs of guilt – their consciences had been seared as with a hot iron (see 1 Timothy 4:2). Their consciences were like a piece of flesh that had been so horribly scorched that it was no longer capable of feeling anything.
So, our conscience is not our ultimate guide. The Bible is. We believe that the truth claims of the Bible (properly understood and interpreted) are the timeless, objective standards that inform our beliefs and actions. The Bible is our ultimate guide.
Yet, what are we to make of our conscience? After all, our Verse for Today quotes the Apostle Paul as stating that he had worked tirelessly to maintain a clear conscience.
To begin to answer that question, all we need to do is look up the word “conscience” in our Bibles. In the Bible translation that I preach from (Christian Standard Bible), the word “conscience” appears 35 times in 34 verses (7 in the OT and 28 times in the NT). From these numbers, we can see that the Bible places great importance on our conscience.
Essentially, our conscience is the light on the car dashboard. It is intended to light up when something is wrong.
The conscience can (and should) be trained by regular, daily Bible intake so that it can more accurately assess the moral quality of a thought, a motive, or an action and warn us when something is wrong.
Rather than make this blog post too much longer, let me simply give a few insights into how we are to think about our conscience and the corresponding Bible verses:
- Paul worked passionately to live with a clear conscience (Acts 23:1; 24:16; Romans 9:1).
- Non-believers have a conscience that testifies to a moral law. Even when they do not know the Bible, their conscience makes it clear to them that they are lawbreakers. (Romans 2:15).
- We should strive for a clear conscience. (Romans 13:5).
- Violating our conscience is wrong. (1 Corinthians 8:7-13; 10:23-30).
- The goal of the Gospel is a clear conscience. God wants us to happily live without guilt. (1 Timothy 1:5, 18-19; 3:9).
There are so many more verses and insights regarding the conscience but I will end here. While our conscience should not be our ultimate guide, it must be listened to.
But, it must also be trained by regular intake of God’s Word. God has given it to us and it can greatly help us on the road of righteousness if it is used properly.