555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

410. What Is Conscience?




It is the moral sense in man, by which he judges between right and wrong, and which approves or condemns his conduct A man is bound to obey it in all his actions. He must, therefore, be careful to see that it is guided by right principles, that it is educated, and is not biased or warped by sophistry, or prejudice, or by impure motives. It has a standard in the Bible which should keep it true and firm. It is, however, quite possible for a man to do wrong conscientiously; in other words, his unenlightened conscience may mislead him. Paul gives an illustration (Acts 26 9) "I thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus." The revelation on the way to Damascus changed that judgment of conscience and gave him a new principle on which he acted. Peter was conscientious in his idea of food and of associating with Gentiles. It took a miracle to open his eyes (Acts 10:28). The inquisitors were probably conscientious in persecuting protestants; Calvin was conscientious in burning Servetus, and the Puritans were conscientious in executing witches. But we see now, in our more enlightened age, that they erred. When a man is uncertain as to the right course to take, he should pray for guidance and direction, should see what principles the Bible lays down in similar matters, and then let his conscience decide. He will be held responsible for obeying his conscience.