Psalms 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide.
A good conscience is instrumental in having an inner awareness of conforming to the will of God. A good conscience will also let us know when we have departed from God’s will. The conscience gives both a sense of approval and judgment. The term, “a good conscience” does not appear in the Old Testament, but the concept does.
In Psalm 32, David was smitten in his heart because of his lack of trust in the power of God (2 Samuel 24:10). His guilt turned to joy when he sought the Lord’s forgiveness (Psalm 32). In the New Testament, the term conscience is found most frequently in the writings of Paul. Some people argue erroneously that the conscience takes the place of the external law in the Old Testament. The conscience is not the ultimate standard of moral goodness. “I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not acquitted by this; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his life, including his motivations and could not find any problems. Paul understood the Lord would be the final judge.
Under both the Old and New Covenants, a good conscience is formed by doing the will of God. Under the Old Covenant, Israel received the Law of God and it was inscribed on the hearts. In the New Covenant, God’s will is inscribed on the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. He reveals the will of God through the Word and the conscience becomes sensitized to that will. The believer is then able to discern God’s judgment against sin. “When the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16).
The conscience of the believer has been cleansed by the work of Jesus Christ. It no longer accuses or condemns. Part of a believer’s responsibility is to live to maintain a pure conscience. Equally important is not encouraging people to act against their conscience. The reason it would be wrong to encourage actions against one’s conscience is that it would not be an act of faith. “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Father, I thank You for the inner awareness of conforming to Your will. Help me maintain a pure conscience as I walk in faith, doing Your will.