In the classic story, “Pinocchio,” Jiminy Cricket served as conscience to the little wooden boy. Jiminy prodded Pinocchio to do right and to avoid wrong. Jiminy tried to produce a sense of guilt when Pinocchio disobeyed. However, Pinocchio ignored his conscience, made an ass of himself on Pleasure Island and suffered many unforeseen consequences.
Conscience is a gift from God. Conscience urges us to do right and to avoid wrong and provides a sense of guilt when not obeyed. When one comes to Christ, his sins are washed away and his conscience is cleansed from guilt. The goal of the young Christian is to follow Christ and to live before Christ in good faith and good conscience.
The conscience is kept clear and sensitive by obedience to its dictates. To ignore or resist the voice of conscience can lead to the searing of the conscience (1 Timothy 4:2).
Conscience can prove to be a faulty guide if not educated by truth. The apostle Paul declared, “I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” In “good conscience,” Paul cheered the men on who stoned Stephen to death. In “good conscience,” Paul persecuted the church! People can and do evil things in good conscience. Paul, like many today, had zeal for God, but without the knowledge of truth.
After coming to the truth, Paul still said, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” He wrote, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
Conscience works in accordance with what one believes to be true; however, what if that which is believed is a lie? The conscience will condone the lie! So, it is imperative to educate the conscience with truth! Then, the conscience will urge us on toward what is truly good and urge us away from what is truly wrong.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,” the Scripture warns, and again it states, “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” The conscience must be educated with the word of God to function the way God intended it to. “Thy Word is truth!” Read it, take it to heart. Then, when your inner Jiminy shouts, “This is your conscience speaking...” answer!
Ken Haskins is pastor of First Christian Church in Carson City.