No one likes to have a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience condemns us, giving us feelings of anguish, regret, shame, anxiety, disgrace and fear. The Greek word for “conscience” is used 30 times in the New Testament, most notably by the Apostle Paul. It is man’s conscience that helps to distinguish between right and wrong as Paul wrote in Romans 2:14-15, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for “conscience” is translated “heart.” Pharaoh is remembered as one who hardened his heart (conscience) against the will of God to “Let My people go,” (Exodus 5:1-2; 8:32). King Josiah’s conscience was sensitive towards the things of God when he was commended by God “because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest His Words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before Me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before Me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD,” (2 Chronicles 34:27). The Psalmist David wrote of man needing to be “upright in heart,” having a pure conscience in Psalm 7. In David’s plea for forgiveness concerning his sin with Bathsheba, he wrote of imploring God to blot out all his sins and “create in me a clean heart, O God,” cleansing both his life and his conscience (Psalm 51).
The Apostle Paul wrote of having a clear conscience (1 Timothy 3:9), warning against having a defiled conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7; Titus 1:15), a weak conscience (1 Corinthians 8:10), a wounded conscience (1 Corinthians 8:12) and a conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2). In Paul’s defense before Felix before his appeal to Caesar, Paul said, “Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men,” (Acts 24:16).
Just as pain can be a good thing alerting us something physically is wrong, a guilty conscience alerts us to sin in our lives. To keep from having a “loss of conscience-ness” found throughout the world today in so many areas of life, one must not conform to the so-called guiltless society but be ”transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” by filling one’s mind with the Word of God, which David wrote of, “How sweet are Thy Words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Romans 12:2; Psalm 119:103). A pure conscience results from the convictions of the mind, encouraged and sharpened by the Word of God.