1 Timothy 1:18-19 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
What stands out to me here is the importance of maintaining a good conscience. Society today seems bent on dulling, even destroying our conscience, but that produces sociopaths. It’s pretty obvious that those are on the increase! I am reminded of the French “expert” over a hundred years ago who advised young women who wanted to “enjoy life fully” to go out walking totally in the nude, to remove all inhibitions. It took time, but that way of thinking certainly seems to have taken hold, sadly enough. When we ignore the pangs of conscience often enough we no longer feel them, and so anesthetize ourselves for our own destruction. Many people have commented on the level of filth in general entertainment today, particularly as compared to 50 or even 10 years ago. When people with functioning consciences fail to object, the trend only accelerates. Paul’s call to Timothy needs to be repeated from pulpits around the world: keep a good conscience! Those who don’t understand the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God often try to squelch their consciences because they don’t like to feel guilty. They don’t realize that those very guilt feelings are God’s mercy to them, calling them to repentance so that they may receive forgiveness and cleansing. 1 John 1:9 is of vital importance, but we have to maintain an operative conscience for it to take place. Squelching our conscience is denying that we have sinned, and John goes on to say that cuts us off from God completely. (1 John 1:10)
I have ignored my conscience more times than I like to think about, and I realize that I am not unaffected by the general level of filth around me. I need to keep watch that I don’t squelch my conscience but rather keep my repentance up-to-date. As a pastor I am an example to many. I am to assure them that forgiveness is real and complete, but there must be repentance first. I know from experience that repentance is a choice, often made over the protests of the flesh, and as such it sometimes doesn’t feel real even to us. However, if the choice is made in faith, God supplies the strength to carry through, and we receive the cleansing and healing we need.
Father, thank You for our consciences. Help me to value mine and teach others to do the same with theirs. May we listen to Your Spirit and not the lies of the devil, choosing eternal blessing and glory over momentary thrills, so that all of Your plans for us may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!