Our Conscience and God’s Standards

Saint Paul

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did.

2 Timothy 1:3.

This is an astonishing word from the pen of the apostle Paul. As a young man he had, after all, been persecuting Christians cruelly, but regarding his conscience he was misled at the time. Our conscience cannot be an absolute yardstick. We may well be conscious of good and evil in our dealings, but our conscience is like a pointer in a scale. The scale corresponds to the values that mould us through our upbringing, our environment or public opinion, for example.

One can generally say that it is not good to act against our conscience. In this respect our conscience plays an important part in the Bible and in legislation. On the other hand, it is often not enough to have a clear conscience, as the example of Paul shows. All depends on whether our conscience is correctly “calibrated”, i.e. whether we act according to God’s principles or not.

A great problem in our day is that much that was regarded as evil in earlier generations is now accepted by society. It is even tolerated in the legislation of modern states and taught as good or “value free” in schools. Key subjects are, for example, abortion, euthanasia and free sex. Public opinion has changed so much that consciences are not affected in many cases where people act in opposition to God’s standards. We cannot simply fall back on a “clear conscience”. We must heed God’s standards, which are eternally valid and by which He will eventually judge our lives.

Image: By Rembrandt – bilddatenbank.khm.at : Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Bilddatenbank.: Pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5249706