I EXERCISE MYSELF TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE
Acts 24:16, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”
I Timothy 1:19, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.”
The Bible speaks of a good conscience. You have heard people say, “I don’t see anything wrong with that.” You have heard people say, “I don’t have anything to be sorry for.” How about when people say, “I don’t feel guilty about it.” How about this, “I have a clear conscience” or “I don’t see where that I did anything wrong” or “I have nothing to apologize for.” I am going to explain why those statements are made!
Please follow my logic carefully. Much is said in the Bible about the conscience. In Acts 24:16 Paul said he exercised himself "...to have always a conscience void of offence…” When speaking about the Gentiles he speaks of the conscience “bearing witness” in Romans 2:15 and Romans 9:1. It means that the conscience accuses someone for what he or she has done or excuses what he has done.
There are some people who can do wrong and their conscience will accuse them of their wrong. There are others who have a conscience too and that conscience accuses someone else while excusing themselves.
To one person the conscience will say, “I accuse you because what you are doing is wrong.” To another persons’ conscience it will say, “There’s nothing wrong with that for you did nothing wrong at all!” The question obviously arises how can that be?
Hebrews 13:18, “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.”
If one can have good conscience that means conversely one can also have a bad conscience.
I Peter 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
The Bible says that baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God.
Let me introduce to you the conscience. The conscience is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in the saved! He mainly leads, convicts, and comforts them through a book he has written called the Bible. He will either ACCUSE the saved of wrong or EXCUSE the saved of wrong.
The conscience is a second you whom you exercise to harness yourself. It is the logical you whom you deliberately exercise to remind the passionate impetuous you to do right and not do wrong, or to remind you that you have done wrong. There are times you are deliberate and decisive about doing right. You are logical, deliberate, and decisive about it. You are thinking straight and that is one you!
However, there is another passionate and impetuous you. This is the you that acts instinctively or it is the impulsive you. Now the conscience is that part of you that you exercise or train to restrain you when the impulsive you is active.
I do not want to ruin my life. I want the most productive life I can have. Thus, I do not want to yield to the temptation of doing wrong. So, when I am rational and logical I exercise this conscience or I train this conscience to warn me, exhort me, set off an alarm, or to rebuke me when the time of passion and impetuous me wants to take over.
There is a deliberate, logical, and decisive you that does not want to wreck your life but there is a you that is impetuous, passionate, impulsive, unpredictable, and unsteady. When that passionate you is tempted to do that which God says you should not do if you have an exercised conscience, a strong conscience, or a conscience that will rebuke, exhort, and warn you. If this happens then one is much less likely to do the wrong that the passionate part of man wants to do.
I do not want to ruin my life. I want the most productive life possible. I do not want to yield to the temptation to do wrong when the passionate part wants to take over.
So, when I am rational, logical, decisive, and deliberate I take time to exercise this other person in me, which is my conscience. Thus, he can warn me, exhort me, and rebuke me when I am wrong.
In the Old Testament the word conscience is called “reins.” Psalm 73:21, “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.” God is not speaking here of the Holy Spirit or the new nature. This is something that God has placed in every man, woman, boy, and girl saved or unsaved!
That is why fifty years ago America was in much better shape morally than today. The unsaved people of fifty years ago had more character than the saved man does today. The unsaved people in America fifty years ago dressed more properly than the saved people do today. The unsaved people of fifty years ago had better music than the saved people of today have.
Why, because there was a day when Americans exercised their consciences, they trained their consciences, they strengthened their consciences, and built up their consciences. Even the unsaved people had this other person they had exercised, trained, strengthened, and built up to harness them when their passionate and impetuous part wanted to take over.
In America fifty years ago the unsaved had decency, character, and restraint. Fifty years ago unsaved American had that second them exercised, trained, and built up. In other words they harnessed their conscience!
An exercised conscience keeps me from passionate sinning. It is that do not do it person. It is that you should not have done it person. If I would do well and not do wrong I in my moments of strength must train that person to be strong enough to over come me in my moments of weakness!
I must exercise this other me and keep him strong enough to over come me when the passionate, impulsive, impetuous me want to do what is wrong. I must exercise my conscience so that when I go to work and temptation comes to me or the passionate me, or the impulsive me, or the impetuous me that the exercised conscience warns me!
When the temptation comes to flirt with the passionate you, the impulsive you, or the impetuous you that other you, the conscience, will rebuke you and say do not do that! You ought not to do that!
Usually when someone does wrong they will say, “I just didn’t think!” No, that is not true for you have no exercised conscience! Your conscience should have accused you but rather it excused you! Ours is a conscience problem not a “I just didn’t think problem.”
This other me must be strong enough to warm me, rebuke me, and exhort me to such a heightened volume that it forces the logical me, the deliberate me, and the decisive me to take control of my passionate me, impetuous me, and the impulsive me.
When the sensual you or the glandular you starts to take over and you have an exercised, trained, fed, built up, strengthened conscience then the conscience part of you will persuade, convince, rebuke, exhort, and warn! How, because the conscience is at such a heightened degree that it puts into action the logical, deliberate, and decisive you.