Keep a Clear Conscience
The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart.(Proverbs 20:27 NKJV)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,(Romans 8:14-16 NKJV)
“God is present in the Spirit, who groans wordlessly on our behalf and who speaks in a soft voice to all consciences attuned to him.”Philip Yancey
When we’ve prayed for healing, believing we receive when we pray, the Bible seems to indicate we should act as if we believe. The question is, “What do acts of faith look like in this situation?” We’ve seen three simple principles for deciding what actions of faith to take:
The stumbling block for many of us is knowing what the Spirit is saying. It’s not always easy. He speaks to us in many ways, but His voice often seems faint, especially when our emotions and our circumstances are screaming. Clearly, however, God designed us to be led by His Spirit. If we are children of God, then how are we led by His Spirit? Let’s start with some basics we all need to know and remember.
First, you are a three part being. You have a body. If you’re in need of healing, then you probably are very aware of that. You have a part of you that is often referred to as your soul. It includes your mind, your emotions, and your will. But the great reality is that you are a spirit. Notice what Paul said:
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”(1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT)
The part of you that was born again is your human spirit. Jesus said it, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6 NKJV).” You were born of the Spirit; therefore you are spirit. In comparing the function of our human fathers to that of our Heavenly Father, Hebrews says, “Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? (Hebrews 12:9 NLT)” God is the Father of our spirits. Here’s a simple way to think about it:
- · The body is the seat of the physical senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. Through these methods we contact the physical world and receive information about it.
- The spirit of man is where we contact God and the realm of the spirit. This is the part of man that is born again.
- The soul of man is composed of the thought processes, the emotions, and the will. In the soul, we take information from the spirit and from the senses. We process that information through thoughts and feelings. This leads to decisions and actions.
The real “secret” to victory in the life of faith is learning to be guided by the spirit, to become aware of and responsive to the “voice” of our human spirit. This is where the Spirit of God imparts direction. I use the term “voice” advisedly, as the leading of the spirit rarely involves hearing a voice. Far more common is a sense on the inside, a knowing in the heart. Today is a good day to start paying close attention to that internal sixth sense.
One of the first and most common ways that we experience the guidance of the spirit is in following our conscience. The conscience is that sense on the inside of each person that lets him know when he is doing or saying something wrong. Even the unbeliever has a conscience, though it may not be reliable. If you’re a Christian, however, your conscience has been transformed as part of the New Birth. You have been born of the Spirit, and “old things have passed away, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5: 217).” Clearly, this is referring to things of the spirit, not the physical body. One of the things that became new, was your conscience.
Speaking about the offerings made by the Old Testament priests, Hebrews tells us, “both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience (Hebrews 9:9 NKJV).” They brought animal sacrifices year after year, but while their repentance and obedience covered their sins, they never touched the core of the problem. They still felt a sense of guilt. But after Jesus, it all changed, “how much more shall the blood of Christ…, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14 NKJV)?” The offering of blood washed away that sense of guilt and left the conscience clear.
The Apostle Paul, in his defense before Governor Felix, made a statement that we should take note of:
“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. ”(Acts 24:15-16 NKJV)
There will be a resurrection of the dead, and there will be a day or reckoning for both the just and the unjust. In light of that Paul strives, works hard, at keeping his conscience clean. What does that mean? You probably have a sense of the meaning, but let’s get specific.
The Greek work that is translated “conscience” is suneidesis. It’s a compound word meaning to know something in conjunction with someone else. The term in the New Testament is used to mean an inner awareness of what God expects. It reflects a “knowing together” with God. His Spirit on the inside of a believer imparts an awareness of God’s moral standard to the reborn human spirit. Your conscience is the place of your awareness of the activity of your human spirit. Joining Paul in working hard to keep a conscience free of offence is the first step in being led by the Spirit of God.
So, how do I work at keeping a good conscience? I am born again with a new spirit and a conscience freed from a sense of my sinfulness. How do I keep it that way? Here are a few tips:
- Be careful what you feed on. Your conscience is affected by the teaching of the Word of God. Listening consistently to teaching that is not biblical, listening to constant legalism and condemnation, will keep you in bondage. The opposite is also true. Listening to teaching that indicates there is no harm in knowingly violating the will of God also does damage to your conscience. Paul was extremely hard on those who bring Christians under law. He was also hard on Christians who use grace as an excuse to sin. (1 Timothy 1:5; Romans 14:20-23; Galatians 5:12-13; Romans 6:1-23)
- The human conscience can be seared. You can desensitize your conscience just like you form a callous on your hands: repeated friction. Consistently ignoring that “ick” or “uh- oh” on the inside, knowing the right thing but doing the wrong thing anyway, eventually callouses your sense of what your spirit is saying. It hinders your awareness of the spirit on the inside. (1 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 3:13; 1 John 2:20,27; 2 Timothy 3:7-8)
Here’s the Point: You know when your conscience is bothering you. Every one of us has those moments when our heart says, “be quiet,” but we say hurtful things anyway. Or maybe you grab that doughnut while your conscience is saying, “No!” And then there’s the icky feeling on the inside when you embellish your resume just a little bit. Learning to pay attention to that inner sense of wrongdoing will begin to soften your conscience. Ignoring it will make it harder to hear in the time of need. If you ignore it long enough, it will go away.
Next Steps: This week, continue learning to be sensitive to your reborn human spirit:
- Each morning, review one of the scripture references in this lesson. How does this passage impact the way you live your life?
- Pray in tongues at least 10 minutes every day. (More is better) 1 Corinthians 14:13-14
- Before every decision or choice, you have the ability to take an extra breath and pay attention to your heart. What’s moving you to make this choice? Fear? Pressure? Pride? What would you want to be your motivation?
- Keep a log, on your phone or on a piece of paper, of each time you do something that causes you to feel “icky,” or uneasy, or just plain guilty in your heart.
- At the end of each day, review your list from #4. If you have hurt anyone with your words or actions, make a plan to ask forgiveness and to repair or repay any damage you caused.
- At the first opportunity, do the repair work you listed in #5.
Developing and preserving a sensitive conscience is the foundation stone in becoming sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in other matters. It also re-energizes your prayer life. Boldness and joy ensue. The restoration of a good conscience restores the believer to confidence before God and men. Real joy flows from a clear conscience. People with hardened hearts are faithless, without peace, irritable, without worship, can’t hear God.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.2 Corinthians 1:12 NIV
In our next lessons we will continue to grow in our ability and willingness to follow God’s Spirit in every aspect of life. God wants you healed and so do I.
Pastor Virgil Stokes
Visit pastorvirgil.com #HealingHelp for all the installments in this series.