(The following is the June 6 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Acts 23 and pay close attention to verse 1.)
All humans are born with a conscience. The word “conscience” combines Latin words meaning “with” (con) and “knowledge” (science). So, with knowledge, we act in morally acceptable or unacceptable ways. Through the conscience, God places a sense of right and wrong within all human hearts regardless of whether they have specific knowledge about Jesus or any biblical teachings.
Paul wrote, “So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their conscience confirms this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret.” (Rom. 2:14-16).
In Acts 23:1, Paul tells the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience to this day.” He is not claiming he never sinned, for he confesses that elsewhere. He acknowledges his clear conscience regarding his faithful service for God.
We should care how our conscience leads us because it can be a helpful, God-given indicator of what to do. However, we may impair our conscience over time, causing it to fail as the early warning system God designed. We dull its effectiveness if we ignore our conscience over an extended period. When we neither hear nor heed its direction, we can easily harm ourselves, others, and our walk with Christ.
Do you, as Paul claimed, live your life before God in all good conscience? Remember, of course, people exposed to the specific revelation of God’s Word are also accountable for what it demands and not just for what we believe our conscience tells us.
Have you violated your conscience recently? If so, how? What does the Bible teach about what you did that violated your conscience? What can you do to correct or change that situation?