A strong faith is characterised by two things:
- It has learnt not to be moved by doubt and external possibilities, it is not “little faith”,” easy-peasy faith”, or “wavering” faith.
- It is an active faith, as opposed to a passive faith that waits for God. An active faith obeys God with courage and is doing what we know is right. This active faith also maintains a clear conscience. Paul speaking to Timothy tells him to recall the promises of God so that… (1 Tim 1:18-19)
A working conscience is recreated within us when we come to a new life in Jesus. While we still living in sin, our conscience is corrupted, numb or quiet and has to be regenerated by the power of the Spirit. However, as we grow in faith this new conscience needs to be maintained and this is vital to our faith. Paul felt strongly about maintaining a clear conscience within himself:
- “Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day’” (Acts 23:1).
- “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men” (Acts 24:16).
- “I serve [God] with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did” (2 Timothy 1:3).
- One of the basic qualifications for deacons, Paul told Timothy, is “holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9).
How does one hold onto a good conscience? Your treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else and do what you know is right before God.
When you ignore your conscience, you harden your heart, and it is possible to silence your conscience, or “sear your conscience.” (1 Tim 4:2) Consequently one cannot see right from wrong. Sin and especially un-confessed sin, will gradually defile what was once a good conscience. This is how it is even possible for believers to do what is wrong according to the Word and not feel any remorse. Paul rebuking those who are not sound in faith, says:
To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. Titus 1:15 NIV
With whom should we have a clear conscience? Acts 24:16 tells us:
- A clear conscience with God
- A clear conscience with other people – where we have been repentant of wrong doing and made restitution where possible.
Maintaining a clear conscience enhances our relationships in every sphere of our lives. Paul’s personal maintenance of a clear conscience allowed him to boast:
Now this is our boast: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Cor 1:12
Paul wanted Timothy and all believers, to understand that a clear conscience was vital to strong faith and ensures that one does not “shipwreck their faith.” It takes effort and humility to maintain a clear conscience, but it is worth the investment.
Search me, Father and know my heart, help me to test my thoughts and attitudes as you test my ways Lord. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me on your path for my life. Help me to clear my conscience in my relationships with those around me, so that I do what is right in your eyes.
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