If you hold a magnifying glass over a piece of paper in direct sunlight, you can concentrate enough light in one tiny spot to ignite the paper. Your conscience works like a lens that rests on top of your spirit. As spiritual light passes through, it searches your every thought, attitude and behavior. Passions, fears, pains, motives—yes, all of it! If, upon examination, the Spirit of God finds that any of these do not line up with his will, he concentrates the light flowing through the conscience on that impurity. This concentration of God’s light on one little area of your soul causes you to feel uncomfortable. You experience conviction.
By this function of the human spirit known as conscience, you have ability to distinguish between right and wrong, together with the sense that you ought not to do wrong. God’s searchlight flowing through your conscience gives you a look into the inmost recesses of your own heart. Its rays cast light into the darkest places of your soul, allowing you to reflect upon your findings and judge them. By your conscience, you can become known to yourself. And, you can evaluate yourself.
A Transparent, Clear Conscience
To maintain its effectiveness, it’s important to keep your conscience transparent. A transparent conscience allows light to pass freely through it. The transparency of your conscience determines the degree to which you can be convicted by the Holy Spirit’s light.
Paul said, Therefore I do my best always to have a clear conscience toward God and all people (Acts 24:16). The revealed will of God became his unquestioned standard of right and wrong. And, Paul ordered his life in accord with the will of God. That was the only way he could possibly have and maintain a clear conscience.
A Translucent, Clouded Conscience
Sin in your life—disobedience to the dictates of God’s word—clouds and darkens your conscience, making it translucent. A translucent conscience hinders the passage of light. It scatters and diffuses it. Through sin, God’s searchlight becomes weakened, giving you only a glimmer of divine rightness.
Paul did not live a sinless life. Like you and me, he knew the sting of falling into sin, but he did not allow it to cloud his conscience. He took the proper steps to make that sin right with God and others. Paul confessed his sin—with a humble and contrite heart, with sorrow. He knew that the sacrifice of Christ cleanses the conscience from guilt. And, Paul knew the freedom that forgiveness brings as it cleanses the conscience. That’s why he had such a joyful, unburdened heart and glad spirit. Abundance!
An Opaque, Seared Conscience
A seared conscience is one that has been darkened into an opaque and hardened condition by one’s refusal to heed its dictates over a period of time. An opaque conscience does not allow light to pass through. Some people choose to remain in denial of sin because the truth hurts and they want to avoid the pain. Instead of permitting conviction to lead them to repentance, they dismiss the unwelcome, inconvenient truth. The searing of one’s conscience is a process.
To break through denial, you have to be willing to expose the truth and allow it to convict you. It may be painful, but you have to feel sorrow for your sins to be in a right position to ask for forgiveness. Isn’t it better to bite the bullet? If you repeatedly reject the voice of your conscience, it simply will not effectively convict you anymore. When that happens, your conscience will no longer serve as an accurate guide of right and wrong.
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord, searching every inmost part. –Proverbs 20:27
The degree of sensitivity to your conscience serves as a good measurement of your spiritual maturity. How quickly do you acknowledge and respond to the conviction of your conscience?
This post is an excerpt from Chapter Two, Wild with Potential / A Season for Silence, of my forthcoming book, A Disciplined Walk with God / Grow in Abundance through Each of Your Spiritual Seasons.