by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I Corinthians 4:1-5
I. Defining your conscience
A. A part of every human is an awareness of what he should do in various situations
B. Your conscience does not determine what is right or wrong
1. That is what judgment is for.
2. Righteous judgment is done by God’s wisdom - Proverb 8:12-17
3. What I think doesn’t determine right or wrong. Right or wrong is determined by God - I Corinthians 4:4
4. God’s judgments are always right - Psalms 119:137
C. Then what is your conscience?
1. It is the satisfaction when we know we did what is right and the guilt when we realize that we did wrong
2. Our conscience, then, tell us whether our actions line up with our judgments or not
II. But sometimes we make mistakes in judgment
A. Paul once thought he should work against Christ - Acts 26:9
1. Why? Because he was raised in the Jewish religion - Philippians 3:4-6
2. Paul’s reasoning was wrong but he was unaware of it at the time
3. And so he could say he had a good conscience - Acts 23:1
4. Even though he now believed differently than what he once believed.
B. Paul’s conscience worked, but the information it worked with was flawed
1. Just because something feels right, it doesn’t mean it is right
2. True happiness is when your conscience doesn’t approve of things that are condemned by God - Romans 14:22
C. Paul learned that just because he had a good conscience it didn’t mean he was right - I Corinthians 4:4
D. When we learn the wrong standard, it impacts how we perceive everything - Titus 1:13-16
1. Our awareness of right becomes broken
III. Sometimes it is our conscience that is broken
A. When we repeatedly do wrong, over time our conscience stops bothering us. We stop feeling guilty for doing wrong - I Timothy 4:2
B. When God isn’t in a person’s life, even the basic sense of morality becomes corrupted - Ephesians 4:17-19
1. There is nothing to pull the conscience back into alignment with the truth or fix the broken conscience.
2. This is why societies have collapsed into chaos - Romans 1:28-32
IV. We should strive to live with a good conscience
A. We should desire to conduct our lives with honor - Hebrews 13:18
B. This assumes our conscience is in tune with the will of God - I Peter 3:15-17
C. We don’t want to lose both the truth and our conscience - I Timothy 1:19
V. How do I gain a good conscience?
A. The writer of Hebrews draws a parallel to the cleansing of the people on the day of Atonement - Hebrews 10:19-22
B. Under the Old Law - Leviticus 16:3-6, 11,14-16, 23-24, 29-30
C. Under the New Law, Jesus’ death on the cross is our atoning sacrifice and we are made clean by his blood - Hebrews 9:12
D. And it is through baptism that I join Jesus in his death - Romans 6:3-7
E. Leaving the past behind, I move on to reach for glory - Philippians 3:13-14
F. How about you?
1. Is your conscience bothering you?
2. Then it is time to get a fix for the problem