Conscience is that inner faculty that indicates to us whether our actions are right or wrong, according to the standards within our hearts. Oswald Chambers gave a good definition of conscience: “The conscience is that innate faculty in a man’s spirit that attaches itself to the highest that the man knows.” Conscience is not the law; conscience bears witness to the law.
By R.L. Wyser
TEXT: ROMANS 2:15
- CONSCIENCE DEFINED
Someone has said that one definition of a friend is one who never gets in your way until you are on your way down. In other words a friend is one who approves when we do right and accuses when we do wrong, God has placed a friend in our hearts.
Something within the heart of every person approves when we do right and accuses when we do wrong, and that something is conscience.
The word “conscience” is found 32 times in the New Testament (King James Version) and was used 21 times by the Apostle Paul. If we are going to be successful in our Christian lives, we must understand what conscience is and how it functions.
I want to discuss two topics related to conscience. First, the definition: What is conscience? Second, the description: How is conscience pictured in the Word of God? If we understand what conscience is and how it functions, it can change our lives.
You cannot escape conscience. You have to live with your conscience. You can argue with your conscience. You can defile your conscience. You can harden your conscience. But you will never get rid of your conscience. It may malfunction because you force it to malfunction, but it will always he there. Sad is the life where conscience does not work the way God wants it to work!
All knowledge begins with definition.
What is conscience? The word “conscience” in our English language comes from two Latin words. Com means “with” or “together,” and scio means “I know.” From the Latin, our English word “conscience” means “to know with” or “to know together.” To know with what? To know with ourselves and to know within ourselves. Conscience is that inner knowledge that helps me to know myself.
The Greek word used in the New Testament, suneidesis, means exactly the same thing. It comes from two Greek words, sun and oida, that mean “to know with.”
In New Testament days the word “conscience” was not a strange word. It was used by the Greek people in their everyday conversation. It meant “the pain that you feel when you do wrong.” That’s a good definition, isn’t it?
An American Indian who was a Christian said, “In my heart there is an arrowhead with three points to it. If I do wrong, the arrowhead turns, and it cuts me. If I do wrong too much, I wear out the points and it doesn’t hurt me quite so much.” But when the pain is gone, watch out!