Do you have a good conscience?
I ask because I am concerned about the senseless violence we see in our world. I have been thinking about “conscience” recently. Here’s why- as a nation, we don’t seem to have a good one anymore. From our national leaders on down to the local level we seem to expect to be lied to, deceived, defrauded or extorted. All this national, valueless behavior without a conscience or conscientious thought for right or the good, is an indicator that we can not let a seared conscience be our guide.
For example, I’ll be in Kenya soon, where killer terrorists, without conscience, shot and murdered any and all who are not of their religious tribe! I have often shopped, dined, and walked through the beautiful Westgate Mall, which is now pock marked with bullet holes, blood stains and a bomb crater! I would have been there in two weeks had not the terrorists attacked Westgate. The Bible speaks of men having a “seared” conscience, no longer able to know, feel, or discern right from wrong. Any man (you included) who can gun down the innocent simply because they are not like you, is a person who’s conscience can no longer be trusted to guide his decisions. Your conscience can be trained, muted, even destroyed by prolonged indoctrination with evil.
An example is the Apostle Paul, who as a Jewish leader, was zealous for the Law of Moses, and became a persecutor of Christians. In defending himself before the Jews (Acts 23:1) he tells them,
“I have acted in good conscience all my life until this very day.”
Now, think about that a moment. Paul is saying he acted in “good” conscience while he consented to the stoning of Stephen, and while he put Christians in Jail. Why? Because his conscience was a by-product of his upbringing, culture, and moral compass. He actually thought he was serving God by killing Christians. Does that sound familiar?
Paul, later in life, writing to his protégé’ Timothy tells him that he must train his conscience to be “good” through instruction in sound doctrine. The sound doctrine Paul was referring to is the “glorious gospel” (1st Timothy 1:11) What I take from that is the fact that we Americans are no longer instructed in the Gospel. Thus, the loss of biblical values, morality, and a good conscience. Our kids spend multiple hours playing and watching video games advocating violence, death, and rampant evil. Often these videos become their reality, and they become truly lost to any hope of living life with a “good” conscience.
So, we cannot trust our conscience, individually or nationally, without it being trained, disciplined and molded by the Gospel. For that to happen, we have to know the Gospel story, be grounded in it, and transformed by it. God help us!