What is our conscience? And what does it mean to have a clear conscience?
Our conscience is a very special, built-in part of our being.
The word ‘conscience’ comes from the Latin word ‘conscientia’ which means “knowledge within oneself, sense of right, a moral sense”.
Our conscience is the sense of right and wrong that our Creator has placed within each and every person.
Our good and clear conscience is God’s divine provision planted deep inside us to urge us and prod us toward His truth and His ways. It is our conscience that consistently causes us to perceive, and make us aware of, the many internal thoughts encouraging us to do good, and to avoid evil.
The Bible tells us how our conscience works:
“The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” (Proverbs 20:27)
“…my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost…” (Romans 9:1b)
Our spirit, given to us by Yahuwah Elohim [the Hebrew name for the LORD God], searches and examines our heart.
Our spirit is Yahuwah’s intimate provision to help us search out our thoughts and motives, measuring these against what our conscience is telling us, as well as discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Written On Our Heart
Our good and clear conscience, sometimes referred to as our “little spark of celestial fire”, is ours from the very start of our life.
From our very beginning, we have a conscience that is clean and clear, not marred in any way. We start out our life with a true sense of right and wrong.
The apostle Paul confirmed this God-given provision when he said that people who do not even know God’s laws will naturally do what God’s law requires, because God’s law “is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14-15).
God has ‘programmed’ us to have His standards for good behaviour designed into and inscribed onto our heart.
“We do not have to create a conscience for ourselves. We are born with one, and no matter how much we may ignore it, we cannot silence its insistent demand that we do good, and that we avoid evil.” —Thomas Merton
Yet when we are little, immature children, we begin to express our selfish nature, and thus we begin to violate our conscience. All too soon, our conscience becomes defiled by selfish and sinful actions, and we begin to lose the sensitive awareness of what our conscience tells us.
The immature have not learned to be self-LESS, which is the essence of loving others (see 1Corthinians 13). The immature demand to satisfy their consuming SELF-interest.
Parents who are diligent to help their children recognize their selfishness, and help them learn to be self-less, do a great service for their children. Such children have the advantage of growing up with a sensitivity to their conscience, so that as adults, they will seek to maintain their good and clear conscience.
When we violate our conscience and go against God’s standards, then our conscience becomes stained and hardened. This defiling of our good conscience requires a cleansing, a restoration.
Thankfully, our heavenly Father is loving and merciful, and has made provision for the cleansing and restoration of our God-given, good conscience through the precious blood of His Son, Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] (1John 1:9, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 10:22, and Hebrews 1:3).
When we sincerely repent and receive Yahushua Messiah as our Saviour, He ascribes to us the perfect and eternal blood sacrifice He made for us on our behalf. He forgives us of our sins, and purges and cleanses our conscience, and we become Born-Again. It is then that our conscience is returned once again to its pure state. From that point forward however, it is important that whenever we fail to follow His ways, we return to Father by confessing our sins and seeking His loving forgiveness.
Our Goal in Keeping a Clear Conscience: Love
The apostle Paul teaches us that Yahuwah’s purpose, or the goal of His Word and His commandments, is so that we become enabled to love — to love God, and to love others “out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1Timothy 1:5).
In order to accomplish Yahuwah’s purpose in our life, we must maintain a clear conscience!
When we are living according to God’s Word, then we will be striving to keep our conscience clear. Our good and clear conscience helps us to BE loving — loving according to God’s definition for loving Him and others:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous (1John 5:2-3).
Following and keeping Yahuwah’s Word/His commandments is the best way to learn to BE loving, and to keep our heart pure, our conscience clear, and our faith sincere. It is a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith that equips us with an inner strength and confidence, enabling us to grow in grace and maturity.
This is one reason why the apostle Paul admonishes us:
And above all these things put on charity [love originating from Messiah who lives within us], which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:14-15)
When we let the peace of God rule in our heart, we are being sensitive to heed the whispering guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is how we learn to be obedient to Yah’s Word, and thus keep our conscience clear. These are major steps toward loving God.
So our goal and purpose for seeking to maintain our good and clear conscience is to BE loving — by first loving God, and then loving others.
Let us now begin to consider four Biblical tips that are helpful in maintaining a good and clear conscience.
Tip #1: First, there is a prerequisite for keeping our conscience clear — a commitment to Yahuwah Elohim.
Everything and anything that is worth doing requires a commitment!
Without the solid decision/commitment to bind yourself to a specific course of action, nothing will be accomplished.
This is true for every single endeavour/activity we attempt.
If we want the fruit — that is, the blessing of a clear conscience — then we must make the commitment to follow God’s Word, and heed the counsel of His Holy Spirit, who urges us to stay in harmony with God’s standards, i.e. His Word.
Such a commitment actually begins with our ‘Born-Again‘ experience.
Once we become a new creation through receiving Yahuwah’s Son, Yahushua Messiah, the Saviour, then we ought to have a deep love for Messiah. This deep love for Yahushua ought to result in a strong commitment to make any necessary changes to our lifestyle, so that we come into harmony and obedience with Father’s Word.
Thus, the prerequisite for keeping and maintaining our clear conscience is the spontaneous commitment that results from our Born-Again experience.
Coming into harmony with God’s Word requires our commitment to value and treasure the authority of Father’s Word, as it is written in the Bible. We show that we truly value His Word, when we make His Word the supreme and active authority in our life, by living in obedience to the Scriptures.
Keeping our conscience clear becomes easy when we respect Yah’s Word with the same respect and commitment that King David had: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” and “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.” (Psalms 119:11&101)
We make the commitment to treasure and obey Yah’s Word, so that we might not sin against Him — in other words, so that we might not violate our conscience.
And why do we do this? Because we LOVE Him!
Tip #2: Begin to cultivate and nurture a sensitivity to the internal whispers of the Holy Spirit.
To keep our conscience clear, we must begin to cultivate a sensitivity to the leading of His Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6 and Acts 2:37).
Sometimes we are not aware of the very small, quiet impressions from the Holy Spirit that we have within our thoughts. So it takes cultivation to learn to be sensitive to recognizing the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Cultivation is a process. It takes time, and it proceeds one-step-at-a-time.
Our focus in this cultivation is to nurture the growth of our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s whispers. How can we do this?
First of all, we can begin to downsize our activities, so that we are not clogged with too much busy-ness. We need to make an effort at slowing down, so that we can concentrate on what is important in fulfilling Father’s plans for us. We must determine to turn off the music, the videos, the TV, and the social media, so that we can focus on fulfilling God’s Word. These are examples of the many voices and worldly influences that distract us, competing for our time and attention.
It is especially important to set aside time daily, for 1) reading and studying the Scriptures, and for 2) secret prayer, asking Father to help us be more sensitive and willing to following His ways. These two things will help us know and obey the Word of God, which is essential for keeping our conscience clear, and for avoiding all kinds of misery (See Hosea 4:1-6).
In order to grow in our sensitivity to the internal whispers of the Holy Spirit, we must be diligent to notice the little thoughts and impressions we receive daily, and seriously consider them. If the impression is urging us to be in agreement with Yah’s Word, then we should be alert (sensitive) to this impression, and quickly begin to pray for insight and discernment.
One of the first things to consider is that our sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit can grow only as we learn to be honest with ourselves, as Yahuwah requires of us:
Yahuwah [LORD], who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart (Psalms 15:1-2).
Behold, thou [Yahuwah] desirest truth in the inward parts (Psalms 51:6a).
These and many other Scripture passages teach us that Father is very interested in our commitment to maintain our inner honesty. As we cultivate a growing sensitivity to our inner honesty and to small thoughts and impressions, we become more aware of any uneasiness we might have. When we sense any uneasiness or lack of peace about a particular matter, then we should not delay in examining ourselves, to make sure we are not violating God’s Word, and thus violating our conscience.
Tip #3: Begin to learn what our duties are, and be diligent to fulfill our duties.
Unless we are in the military, we do not hear the word ‘duty’ very often. But as a child of Yahuwah, each one of us has certain duties that are specific and particular to our own individual situation.
A ‘duty’ is a work that you are responsible to perform. A ‘duty’ is something that you alone are responsible for, and obligated to fulfill.
To keep our conscience clear, then we need to fulfill our duties.
Fulfilling our duties is one of the main whispering encouragements of the Holy Spirit. Often it is our conscience that urges us to perform our duties, and not neglect them, because Yahuwah desires this of us, as we can see in many verses in His Word:
- Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Romans 14:19).
- Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2Timothy 2:22).
- Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:30).
- For even hereunto were you called: because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (1Peter 2:21).
- He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahuwah require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
- Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
The above verses reveal some of the very basic principles of walking with Yahuwah. As believers and followers of Messiah, we have a duty to have heart-attitudes of humility, mercy, obedience, graciousness, and a variety of other virtues.
But most of all, we are called to follow Yahushua’s example of being a servant to those in our midst: “… but I am among you as He that serveth” (Luke 22:27b).
An important part of our servanthood calling is to fulfill our duties through obedience to our Master’s words! ‘Servanthood’ is a primary duty as a disciple of Messiah (Luke 17:10).
Some may object, saying ‘doing duties’ is a negative way of looking at our calling in Messiah. But I say that when we understand what our duties are [the activities which are our responsibility], then we are more inclined to willingly perform them.
Often, what our duties actually are, are a variety of very small tasks that, when fulfilled, help us to obey one of Yahushua’s most important commands: And He (Yahushua) said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Fulfilling our duties helps us to practice steps of self-denial, thus avoid willfulness.
Everyone has his own specific realm of duties/responsibilities. Some general examples of duties might be:
- A student must fulfill the duties of completing school assignments and being in class on time (Titus 2:6-8a).
- A husband/father must fulfill the duties of being available to teach/train his children, of being responsibly aware of the needs of his family, of leading his family in God’s ways, and of responsibly providing for his family (Titus 2:2 and James 1:19-20 and 1Timothy 5:8).
- A wife/mother must fulfill the duties of keeping and managing the home, of preparing meals and clothing, of nurturing her children, and of creating an environment for her family that is healthy and peaceful (Titus 2:3-5).
- And as believers in Messiah, we ought to naturally have a deep love for the Saviour as a result of our Born-Again experience. Therefore, as one of our duties, we endeavour to represent Messiah with honour in all that we do. This ought to be the deep, abiding desire of our heart, gladly doing this ‘duty’ as a joy (1Tmothy 1:17).
These are just a few examples of the many roles we have, along with some general duties. But each role we have has particular, specific duties, required of us each day. Every day, we are faced with specific, individual duties that we alone are responsible to fulfill.
If we fail in fulfilling our duties, we create problems and unrest for ourselves, and for those we are associated with. But when we fulfill our duties, then our conscience will be peaceful.
When we do the things that are our specific responsibilities, then we reap the benefits of keeping a clear conscience, as well as maintaining peacefulness and good relationships within our family, friends, and co-workers.
Tip #4: Be faithful in the little things.
Yahushua exhorts His disciples to be faithful in the little, seemingly ‘unimportant’ things:
He that is faithful in that which is least [the little things] is faithful also in much [the greater things]: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10)
Faithfulness in great, significant things is good.
But to keep our conscience clear, we must first learn to be faithful in small matters, the little, intimate things.
Faithfulness in little things is another way of looking at ‘fulfilling our duties’. But the important thing about faithfulness in ‘little things’ is that it reflects our character.
The way we handle little things is very revealing!
Our attitude toward little things reveals much about our character. Our attention to little things, or our neglect of little things, reveals either what is good about our character, or what is lacking in our character.
The way we attend to little, personal matters demonstrates either our faithfulness to honour and respect Yahuwah and others, or else our lack of faithfulness, thus exposing a leaning toward laziness and self-importance.
When we are faithful to attend to small matters [our small ‘duties’], we show forth an integrity of character, revealing a genuine love for Yah and for those in our midst — those we are in close relationship with.
Faithfulness in little matters begins with simply talking to Yah about all our decisions, no matter how small (Proverbs 28:6 and Proverbs 3:6).
Our faithfulness to attend to little things helps us to keep our conscience clear and tender, and helps us learn sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s nudges.
Maintaining a Clear Conscience
These tips are helpful reminders for learning how to maintain our clear conscience.
The goal for keeping a clear conscience is to BE loving, BE obedient to God’s Word, and BE genuine and authentic about our faith. Our clear conscience enables us to more quickly discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.
There are times that we may have an uneasiness in our spirit over something we did, or something we are considering doing. Whatever the case, the uneasiness is the moment to BE sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. We should pause, and consider what the uneasiness is about.
An uneasiness or a ‘check’ in our spirit is a precious moment. It is a time to humble ourselves, be honest with ourselves, examine our motives, and earnestly seek the peace of God in the matter.
It can be difficult at times, to recognize the difference between selfish ambitions and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must begin to accept the fact that we can not always trust what our heart may be telling us, because our heart is not reliable (Jeremiah 17:9).
It takes practice to heed the Holy Spirit’s guiding whispers to do the right thing. It takes practice to maintain our commitment to live our life in agreement with the authority of God’s Word.
Though we all fail, our failures should not keep us from returning to Father.
It is important that we not cover up our faults and sins, but instead, confess them, seek Father’s forgiveness by the blood of His Son, and begin to walk in repentance (Colossians 1:14 and 1John 1:9).
If we do not seek Father and His strength to remain honest and faithful, we can become insensitive. Our inner honesty with Him helps us to admit our failures and weakness. Once we repent, Yahuwah is well able to bring us through to a renewed sense of His care and tender love for us, and restore our conscience.
These four tips for keeping a clear conscience are simple, very basic tools. The very best thing to do however, is to earnestly maintain our intimate relationship with Father, seeking His guidance in all our ways. We must cry out for Father’s help — help to be humble, honest, and obedient to His Word, asking for courage and discernment to maintain our good and clear conscience, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult!
Let us remember these four tips for keeping a clear conscience:
- The prerequisite commitment to Yahuwah Elohim and His Word, by our Born-Again experience, through Messiah Yahushua, which results in cleansing and restoring of our conscience;
- Cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s whispers;
- Learn what our duties are, and fulfill them;
- Be faithful in the little things.
Keeping the wonderful treasure of a good and clear conscience belongs only to those who are committed to heeding the whispers and messages of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which will always be in harmony with Yah’s written Word [the Bible].
“Keep your conscience good and you will always enjoy happiness, for a good conscience can bear a great deal and can bring joy even in the midst of adversity. But an evil conscience is ever restless and fearful. A good, clean conscience inspires great trust in God. Happy is the man who casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience.” —Thomas à Kempis
Our clear conscience is the source of much joy, peace, and strength! Therefore, keeping a good and clear conscience is a worthy endeavour!
Genuine ‘Thirsty Souls’ are vigilant to protect and guard their clear conscience.