Quotes about Conscience
God has given each of us a conscience, a moral compass within our hearts, bearing witness to His Law. In sinful or self-righteous people (that is, people whose dominant characteristics are either obvious sin or obvious self-righteousness) the conscience is to some degree “hardened.” That is, it is relatively insensitive to sin or its own self-righteousness. But in a growing Christian the conscience becomes more and more sensitive to violations of God’s Law. As a result, our consciences continually indict us, accusing us of not only particular sins, but, more important, of our overall sinfulness. We recognize more and more that specific acts of sin are simply the expressions of our still-wicked hearts.
The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.
Even as he who is troubled with a burning fever is hotter than he who is parched with the sun; so is that man more troubled who hath a guilty conscience than a good man by all outward afflictions.
Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what it regards as the highest authority. If I am in the habit of steadily facing toward God, my conscience will always introduce God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offense. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God’s Son that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks.
One of the great dangers with constant guilt: we learn to ignore our consciences. If we are truly sinning, we need to repent and implore the Lord to help us change. But if we aren’t sinning, if we are perhaps not as mature as we could be, or are not as disciplined as some believers, or we are making different choices that may be acceptable but not extraordinary, then we should not be made to feel guilty. Challenged, stirred, inspired, but not guilty.
The conscience is not infallible. We can have an evil conscience that doesn’t turn away from sin (Heb. 10:22). We can have a seared conscience that no longer feels bad for evil (1 Tim. 4:2). We can have a weak conscience that feels bad for things that aren’t really bad (1 Cor. 8:7-12). And we can have a defiled conscience that loses its ability to discern right from wrong (Titus 1:15).
When we violate our sense of right and wrong, even if the action in itself is not sinful, we are guilty of sin. “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). That means, if you don’t believe what you are doing is acceptable, then it’s not acceptable for you to do it. You must not ignore your conscience… Even if the Bible gives the green light, the red light in your conscience should not be transgressed.
Conscience which should have been the sinner’s curb here on earth becomes the sinner’s whip that will lash his soul in hell. That which was the seat and center of all guilt now becomes the seat and center of all torment.
Happy is that man, that can be acquitted by himself in private, by others in public, and by God in both.
In order to discern the will of God for their lives believers cannot just depend on their conscience. Conscience is indeed very important, but it must constantly be sent back to the school of Scripture to receive instruction from the Holy Spirit. It is in this manner that believers become and remain aware of God’s will. Which will? Decretive (secret) or Preceptive (revealed)? The latter, of course… In this way the will of God will become an increasingly well-established or proven component of the consciousness and lives of God’s children. The more they live in accordance with that will and approve of it, the more also, through this experience, will they learn to know that will, and rejoice in that knowledge. They will exclaim, “Thy will is our delight.”
It is a good thing to have a heart within us smiting us for sins that seem little; it is a sign that conscience is awake and tender, and will be the means of preventing greater sins.
There is a conscience in man; therefore there is a God in heaven.
The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God or even the moral law, rather it is a human faculty which adjudicates upon human action by the light of the highest standard a person perceives.
Seeing that all of human nature has been affected by sin, both a person’s perception of the standard of action required and the function of the conscience itself (as a constituent part of human nature) are also affected by sin. For this reason conscience can never be accorded the position of ultimate judge of one’s behavior. It is possible that the conscience may excuse one for that which God will not excuse, and conversely it is equally possible that conscience may condemn a person for that which God allows. The final judgment therefore belongs only to God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:2-5). Nevertheless, to reject the voice of conscience is to court spiritual disaster (cf. 1 Tim. 1:19). We cannot reject the voice of conscience with impunity, but we can modify the highest standard to which it relates by gaining for ourselves a greater understanding of the truth.
You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the Word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.
The real and true work of Christ’s passion is to make man conformable to Christ, so that man’s conscience is tormented by his sins in like measure as Christ was pitiably tormented in body and soul by our sins.
It is neither safe nor prudent to do anything against conscience.
Today’s culture aggressively and systematically tries to silence the conscience. People have been taught to ignore any and all guilt feelings conscience produces, viewing them as harmful to their self-esteem. They believe their problems stem not from their sin but from external factors beyond their control. Sin and guilt are viewed as psychological issues, not moral and spiritual ones.
Since the conscience holds people to their highest perceived standard, believers need to set that standard to the highest level by submitting to all of God’s Word. As they continually fill their minds with the truths of Scripture, believers clarify God’s perfect law. Their consciences will then call them to live according to that law.
The conscience is a built-in warning system that signals us when something we have done is wrong. The conscience is to our souls what pain sensors are to our bodies: it inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, whenever we violate what our hearts tell us is right.
Suppressing the conscience or deliberately violating it is deadly to our spiritual well-being. To disobey the conscience is itself a sin (Romans 14:14, 23; James 4:17), even if the conscience is ignorant or is misinformed. And to suppress the conscience is tantamount to searing it with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2), leaving it insensitive and thereby dangerously removing a vital defense against temptation (1 Corinthians 8:10).
Our sensitivity to personal guilt is a fundamental trait of our humanness that distinguishes us from animals. To try to suppress the conscience is in effect to diminish one’s own humanity.
As a Christian, you have the capacity to walk before God with a clear conscience:
1. Confess and forsake known sin. Examine your guilt feelings in light of Scripture. Deal with the sin God’s Word reveals (Pr. 28:13; 1 Jn. 1:9; Jas. 5:16; Psm. 32:5).
2. Ask forgiveness and be reconciled to anyone you have wronged (Mt. 5:23-24; 6:14-15).
3. Make restitution to those you’ve wronged (Num. 5:6-7; Lk. 19:8; Phile. 19).
4. Don’t procrastinate in clearing your wounded conscience. Some people put off dealing with their guilt, thinking their conscience will clear itself in time. It won’t. Procrastination allows the guilt feelings to fester. That in turn generates depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems (Ac. 24:16).
5. Educate your conscience. A weak, easily grieved conscience results from a lack of spiritual knowledge (1 Cor. 8:7).
If your conscience is too easily wounded, don’t violate it. To violate even a weak conscience is to train yourself to override conviction, and that will lead to overriding true conviction about real sin. Moreover, violating the conscience is a sin in itself (Romans 14:23), bringing legitimate guilt for a real offense against God. So, respond to your conscience, even if it’s weak, and then continue to inform your conscience with God’s Word so it can begin to function with reliable data.
Drugs, therapy, entertainment – they’re all used to silence a guilty conscience. But for the Christian, the conscience is the key to freedom.
The conscience is generally seen by the modern world as a defect that robs people of their self-esteem. Far from being a defect or a disorder, however, your ability to sense your own guilt is a tremendous gift from God. He designed the conscience into the very framework of the human soul. It is the automatic warning system that cries, “Pull up! Pull up!” before you crash and burn.
The conscience entreats you to do what you believe is right and restrains you from doing what you believe is wrong. But don’t equate the conscience with the voice of God or the law of God. It is a human faculty that judges your actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard you perceive. When you violate your conscience, it condemns you, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace, and even fear. Conversely, when you follow your conscience, it commends you, bringing joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being, and gladness.
Both the mind and the conscience can become so defiled that they cease making distinctions between what is pure and what is impure (cf. Titus 1:15).
The conscience…is not infallible. Nor is it a source of revelation about right and wrong. Its role is not to teach you moral and ethical ideals, but to hold you accountable to the highest standards of right and wrong you know.
Both tradition and truth inform the conscience, so the standards it holds you to are not necessarily biblical ones (1 Corinthians 8:6-9). The conscience can be needlessly condemning in areas where there is no biblical issue. In fact, it can try to hold you to the very thing the Lord is trying to release you from (Romans 14:14, 20-23)!
Your conscience reacts to the convictions of your mind and therefore can be encouraged and sharpened in accordance with God’s Word. The wise Christian wants to master biblical truth so that the conscience is completely informed and judges right because it is responding to God’s Word. A regular diet of Scripture will strengthen a weak conscience or restrain an overactive one. Conversely, error, human wisdom, and wrong moral influences filling the mind will corrupt or cripple the conscience.
Your conscience is like the nerve endings in your fingertips. Its sensitivity to external stimuli can be damaged by the buildup of calluses or even wounded so badly as to be virtually impervious to any feeling. Paul also wrote of the dangers of a calloused conscience (1 Corinthians 8:10), a wounded conscience (v. 12), and a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2).
Take time each day to inform your conscience by reading God’s Word. Never train yourself to ignore your conscience, but respond quickly to its warnings. And then cleanse your conscience through consistent confession as you seek forgiveness from those you’ve sinned against – whether God or others. Those things will strengthen your conscience so that you can enjoy the freedom and blessings of a clear conscience before God.
Everybody who is created comes into the world with a sense of right and wrong. That is the law written in the hearts. In addition to that, God has put the conscience and the conscience is a warning device that sounds off when we violate that law, or affirms us when we obey it. The conscience is not that law; it is merely the warning device.
Conscience is to the soul what pain is to the body. We would like to avoid pain as much as possible, but at the same time we recognize that pain is a gift from God. If you didn’t have pain, you would destroy yourself. Pain is critical to physical preservation. And so the conscience is critical to spiritual preservation.
Our society under the prince of the power of the air has two objectives. Objective number one is destroy the moral law so that the conscience is misinformed. Train people against what is innately the law that is in their hearts when they’re born, give them a new morality, not the morality of the Bible, not God’s law. We want people not to think biblically. We want them freed from that so we’ll construct another morality that will pour that into their lives through every means possible. That’s destructive. And then the second thing that society wants to do orchestrated by the enemy of your souls is to tell you that your conscience is a liar. That what’s wrong with you isn’t sin, it’s a lack of…self-esteem. It isn’t that you’re bad; it’s that you’re good and you need to think better of yourself… The guilty conscience isn’t healthy, it shouldn’t be tolerated, switch it off.
The conscience is at the core of what it means to be human, as opposed to being an animal. What distinguishes human beings and animals is self-consciousness; that is the ability of the soul to reflect upon itself. Humans are the only creatures in the material world who can think about their thoughts, who can contemplate why they think the way they think, who can understand their motives, who can make moral self-evaluations. And that is a God-given gift, the innate ability to sense what is right and wrong,
It’s essential to understand…that the conscience doesn’t act independently. It can only act upon a belief system. It is not a belief system. The conscience is not the law of God. It is not the voice of God. It is not moral law. It is simply a mechanism.
Your conscience works off your belief system. [So] the more you know about the Word of God, the more you’re consistently in the Word of God, learning the Word of God, hearing the Word of God, meditating on the Word of God, the more informed your conscience is truly informed.
[The conscience] either indicts you, accuses you, or it exonerates you and defends you.
James 1 says, “Lust when it conceives brings forth sin”… If you don’t win the battle on the inside, it will show up on the outside. A pure conscience is more to be sought than a good reputation.
What happens when a person becomes a believer is that conscience is purified by the Holy Spirit; and, as a Christian, I believe conscience is giving pure information. I believe that the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with your conscience, is going to send pure impulses. That’s why a Christian who sins is going to suffer far more intense guilt than a non-believer who’s got a seared conscience… The Holy Spirit will operate in and through your conscience and make moral judgments on your action.
Your conscience as a Christian is that tool in connection with the Holy Spirit which makes moral value judgments on your actions. Respond to it, because your conscience will not only make the judgment, it’s not only the judge, your conscience is also the executioner. If you don’t listen to your conscience, you’ll suffer from your conscience. Your conscience will continue to accuse you, and you’ll have a guilty conscience and a guilty complex.
So how does a person shut down conscience? Two ways: misinform it. Conscience is not a law; conscience is a mechanism. You can shut down pain, right? You can shut down pain; just take drugs. Mask pain. If you mask pain, you mask the reality that you’re doing some damage. You can mask conscience by misinforming it. How do you do that? You take the true law of God, which is written in Scripture and written in the human heart, and you basically eliminate it, denounce it, diminish it, remove it, and replace it with another law; and if you do this generationally you’ll eventually raise generations of people whose conscience is now informed by lies. The other thing you can do to shut down the conscience is just think you shouldn’t feel guilty. Let psychology take you off-the-hook: “You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. You’re wonderful. You’re the best. You can be anything you want to be. You’re heroic. You’re a good person. You ought to be able to do whatever you want. You live any way you want. Don’t let anybody make you feel guilty for anything.” Just keep driving all efforts against the normal work of the conscience and misinform the conscience and you’ve turned the beast loose. This society in which we live today has been doing that damage for decades, for decades.
Who’s to Blame for the Riots. The sermon originally appeared at: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/81-80/whos-to-blame-for-the-riots at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
The guilty conscience has made man a fugitive from God.
Persistent yielding to the inordinate desires of the body against the voice of conscience is a life of misery!
Conscience is not a lawgiver. It does not teach us what is right and wrong. It functions as a judge to apply the law that has been given to it. Conscience is not an infallibly safe guide, because it can be trained to obey wrong standards. Some people can commit the most horrible deeds and feel they are doing what is right (John 16:1–3).
Conscience does not, and cannot, tell you what is, or is not, the right thing to do. That is the role of parents, society, education, and for the Christian, the Bible. All human beings have a conscience, but the law that a specific conscience uses to accuse or excuse certain actions or intentions will vary greatly according to the individual’s environment and background. Obviously, the higher the standard that trains the conscience, the more conscience will “accuse.” When the law of God trains the conscience, it is impossible for that conscience ever to approve completely, since that law demands sinless perfection.
The Lord God hath set [the conscience] as His deputy in the breast of man, which, though it be oftentime a neuter when the act is doing and while sin is a committing, yet afterwards it will prove a friend and faithful witness for the Lord, but an adversary against man.
There is a conscience in all men by nature. Let this never be forgotten. Fallen, lost, desperately wicked as we are all born into the world, God has taken care to leave Himself a witness in our bosoms. It is a poor blind guide, without the Holy Spirit. It can save no one. It leads no one to Christ. It may be seared and trampled under foot. But there is such a thing as conscience in every man, accusing or excusing him; and Scripture and experience alike declare it (Rom. 2:15).
A good conscience will save no man, wash away no sin, not lift us one hair’s breadth towards heaven. Yet a good conscience will be found a pleasant visitor at our bedside in a dying hour.
So the three options available: One, harden and sear your conscience by continually violating it. That is the making of a psychopath. Two, keep a soft heart, persist in unrepentant sin and live with the ongoing agony of a tormented conscience – the restlessness, anxiety, stress and psychosomatic disorders (ulcers, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, etc.). Or, three, simply obey God’s Word which honors the Lord and enjoy a life of peace which far surpasses any worldly perks obtained sinfully that promise us greater satisfaction but violate our conscience.
It matters not that the bones shake if the soul be firm, but when the soul itself is also sore…this is agony indeed.
The conscience of the Christian is obligated and bound only by what the Bible either commands or forbids, or by what may be legitimately deduced from an explicit biblical principle.
It was your great American wit, Mark Twain, who once said, “Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only animal that needs to.” We are ashamed, are we not, of things we’ve done in the past. Nobody is free who is unforgiven. Instead of being able to look God in the face or to look one another in the face, we want to run away and hide when our conscience troubles us.
Conscience is God’s spy and man’s overseer.
What once bothered us doesn’t bother us anymore. What once activated our conscience doesn’t seem to anymore. What we knew was outside of God’s boundaries, and therefore functionally outside of ours, lives inside our boundaries, and it doesn’t matter to us anymore. It is a scary place to be. The hard heart is a stony heart. It is not malleable anymore. It’s hard and resistant to change, no longer tender and responsive to the squeeze of the hands of the Spirit. There is evil in our hearts and in the acts of our hands, and we’re okay with it. Could there be a more dangerous place for a believer to be?
Romans 2:14-15 indicates that the conscience is your ally in teaching your children to understand their sin. The conscience within man is always either excusing or accusing. If you make your appeal there, you avoid making correction a contest between you and your child. Your child’s controversy is always with God.
Conscience tells us that we ought to do right, but it does not tell us what right is – that we are taught by God’s word.
The trouble with the advice, “Follow your conscience” is that most people follow it like someone following a wheelbarrow – they direct it wherever they want it to go, and then follow behind.
Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.
Each time our consciences “sound off” we can either muffle or unleash the volume of their impact. Prompt obedience sharpens the clarity of truth’s familiar sound, causing our spiritual senses to go on high alert. The more we obey, the greater affirmation we have that we are honest and genuine. A highly trained, truth-sensitive conscience will give us no rest when we edge toward compromise. If, instead of resolutely fleeing sin, we suppress the truth through rationalization and compromise, the clearest resonation of right and wrong will become faint. Do this enough times and no bell of truth will ring at all!
The more people engage in activities which their consciences warn them against, the more they become blinded to the truth, cannot see the dangers, and therefore perceive themselves to be “free” though they are deceived. Conversely, the evidence of a clear and maturing conscience is simply humility, submissiveness, and obedience (1 Peter 2:16-19; 3:16-17). Where these are absent it is a given that one’s conscience may “feel” free but is simply suppressed.
The conscience of one should not “rule” another in areas of liberty, but love should prevail in every consideration, even if it means eliminating the exercise of certain liberties (e.g. Paul in 1 Cor. 8:12-13).
A heart of integrity is cultivated by striving to maintain a clear conscience. Our consciences are the internal mechanism given to us by God to drive us toward sincerity. Like an internal accountability partner, the conscience acts as a witness in our hearts and minds to either “accuse or even excuse” our actions (Rom. 2:15). When we inform the conscience with biblical truth we are telling it to accurately hold us in check against the standard of Scripture. The conscience itself is not our benchmark, but if kept clear and clean it becomes a powerful instrument of integrity as it drives us toward the grand, inflexible benchmark – God’s Word.