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Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.4: Conscience)

October 6, 2019 Speaker: John Bell Series: Sunday School: Christian Ethics

How Should We Define the Conscience?
“Your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong.”

Some Introductory Principles About Conscience
• Conscience Is a Human Capacity
• Conscience Is a Priceless Gift from God
• Conscience Wants to Be an On-Off Switch, Not a Dimmer
• Your Conscience Is for You and You Only (MYOC!)
• No Two People Have Exactly the Same Conscience
• You Can Damage Your Conscience

The Two Great Principles of Conscience
1. God is the only Lord of conscience
2. You should always obey your conscience. (If God, the Lord of your conscience,
shows you through his word that your conscience is registering a mistaken moral
judgment, and if you believe he wants you to adjust your conscience to better
match his will, your conscience must bend to God.)

What Can the Conscience Be?

1. The conscience can be good in the sense of blameless, clear, clean, and pure
(Acts 23:1; 24;16; 1 Tim 1:5, 19, 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18; 1 Pet. 3:16, 21)

2. The conscience can be cleansed, that is, cleared, perfected, purified, washed,
purged, and sprinkled clean (Heb. 9:9, 14; 10:22)

Negatively (listed from bad to worse):
1. The conscience can be weak (1 Cor. 8:7, 10, 12)
2. The conscience can be wounded (1 Cor. 8:12)
3. The conscience can be defiled (1 Cor. 8:7; Titus 1:15)
4. The conscience can be encouraged or emboldened to sin (1 Cor. 8:10),
5. The conscience can be evil or guilty (Heb. 10:22),
6. The conscience can be seared as with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:2)


What Can the Conscience Do?

1. Bear witness or confirm (Rom. 2:15; 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12)
2. Judge or try to determine another person’s freedom (1 Cor. 10:29)
3. Lead one to act a certain way.

The New Testament gives four examples of how your conscience can lead you to act a certain way:
• The conscience can lead you either to accuse or defend yourself based on how
your conscience bears witness (Rom. 2:15)
• The conscience can lead you to submit to the authorities (Rom. 13:5)
• The conscience can lead you not to bother asking where your meat came from
because eating meat sacrificed to idols is not something your conscience should
condemn you for (1 Cor. 10:25, 27)
• The conscience can lead you not to eat meat that someone tells you was
sacrificed to idols for the sake of that person’s conscience (1 Cor. 10:28)

What Should We Do When Our Conscience Condemns Us?
God’s solution for us to have a clean conscience throughout our lives is simple and
profound: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Only the cross can fill that ever-widening gap between your consciousness of what you ought to be and your actual

How Do You Calibrate Your Conscience?
1. Calibrate your conscience by educating it with truth.
2. Calibrate your conscience with due process.

Conscience Texts in the New Testament
• Acts 23:1 “Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have
fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
• Acts 24:16 “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
• Romans 2:15 “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their
hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes
accusing them and at other times even defending them.)”
• Romans 9:1 “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms
it through the Holy Spirit.”
• Romans 13:5 “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only
because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”
• 1 Corinthians 8:7 “But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are
still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as
having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.”
• 1 Corinthians 8:10 “For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all
your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to
eat what is sacrificed to idols?”
• 1 Corinthians 8:12 “When you sin against them in this way and wound their
weak conscience, you sin against Christ.”
• 1 Corinthians 10:25, 27 “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising
questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put
before you without raising questions of conscience.”
• 1 Corinthians 10:28-29 “But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in
sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for
the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not
yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?”
• 2 Corinthians 1:12 “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have
conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with
integrity and godly sincerity.”
• 2 Corinthians 4:2 “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do
not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by
setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience
in the sight of God.”
• 2 Corinthians 5:11 “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to
persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your
• 1 Timothy 1:5 “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart
and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
• 1 Timothy 1:19 “…holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have
rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”
• 1 Timothy 3:9 “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear
• 1 Timothy 4:2 “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose
consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
• 2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear
conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.”
• Titus 1:15 “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
• Hebrews 9:9 “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts
and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the
• Hebrews 9:14 “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 10:22 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full
assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a
guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
• Hebrews 13:18 “Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and
desire to live honorably in every way.”
• 1 Peter 3:16 “Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously
against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
• 1 Peter 3:21 “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not
the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward
God.[a] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”