When confronted with questionable situations or opportunities, can you trust your conscience to guide you to make right choices? We often hear people say, “Let your conscience be your guide,” but this may not be the best option. It all depends on the condition of the conscience. If we have repeatedly rejected or ignored it, our conscience is no longer a reliable guide because we’ve silenced its signals.
When can we trust our conscience to be our guide?
Since the conscience can be damaged and is not always reliable, we need to understand the conditions under which we can be sure that it is working properly and sending us the right information.
We can trust it when we’ve accepted the Word of God as the basis for our conduct. If we take seriously the Ten Commandments as well as the instructions in the New Testament for proper living, we can be sure that our conscience will guide us toward the right decisions.
We can trust it if we have programmed our conscience with the teaching of Scripture. As the Holy Spirit puts God’s Word into our hearts, we come to understand how He thinks, works, and moves in our lives.
We can trust our conscience when we have a strong desire to obey the Lord. This means that no matter the cost, we are going to trust Him and do what He says.
We can trust it if we prayerfully consider the decisions we must make. When we ask the Lord for guidance, our conscience becomes more sensitive to His leading.
We can trust our conscience if it immediately sounds an alarm when we’re considering a wrong direction in our thoughts or actions. If we’re consistently abiding by God’s Word, will, and way, our conscience won’t wait until the end of the day to send us a signal. The moment a temptation or questionable situation arises, it will warn us of danger and prompt us to reject that direction.
We can trust it when we feel guilty immediately upon disobedience. A spiritually sensitive conscience is alert to everything going on inside and around us. The moment we sin, it will go into action so that we can quickly return to the Lord in confession and repentance.
Although we’ve all been given a conscience, what we do with it will either sharpen or dull it. The more we heed its signals, the more sensitive it will become and the better we’ll be able to distinguish between right and wrong. But if we repeatedly ignore the warnings, it will become calloused and then useless. At that point we can live in absolute disobedience to God and feel no conviction at all because our conscience has been damaged and is unable to judge accurately.
This article was originally published on May 7, 2017, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Is Your Conscience Your Protector?” which airs this weekend on TV.