The Bible teaches that
Chrisitans must hold their faith with a pure conscience. What does a good,
pure conscience have to do with the faith of a Christian? Doesn't faith have
to be "alone"? Doesn't adding a "good conscience" to one's faith
while already a Christian turn faith
into a work? Perhaps so according to modern false teaching, but not
so according to the Holy Scriptures.
Let's look at what the Bible
says about faith and conscience:
1Ti 1:5 Now the end of the
commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience,
and of faith unfeigned:
1Ti 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put
away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
1Ti 3:9 Holding the
mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
Hbr 10:22 Let us draw near
with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts
sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure
Before we look at the verses, let's see how Webster's 1828 Unabridged Dictionary defines conscience:
CONSCIENCE, n. [L., to know, to be privy to.]
1. Internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them. Conscience is called by some writers the moral sense, and considered as an original faculty of our nature. Others question the propriety of considering conscience as a distinct faculty or principle. They consider it rather as the general principle of moral approbation or disapprobation, applied to ones own conduct and affections; alledge that our notions of right and wrong are not to be deduced from a single principle or faculty, but from various powers of the understanding and will.
Being convicted by their own conscience, they went out one by one. John 8.
The conscience manifests itself in the feeling of obligation we experience, which precedes, attends and follows our actions.
Wow! When I read the definition of conscience, I knew why Paul spent so much time exhorting, admonishing and commanding the churches. Believers needed to have their consciences trained to discern right from wrong in the Christian life. They were learning their duty as believers from Paul's writings and then proceeded to action based upon what they were taught was right to do. Whether or not their actions were in accordance with his teachings was the way the believers held their faith in a good, pure conscience or whether their faith was held in an evil conscience, and was finally shipwrecked. Because they had a standard to go by to judge themselves, they were able to hold the faith in a good conscience, because Paul instructed them how to have faith with a good conscience.
No wonder Paul told the believers to: "Examine yourselves, whether ye
be in the faith; prove your own selves."
(2 Corinthians 13:5) This examining and proving of themselves to see whether they were in the faith was really a checking to see if they held the "mystery of the faith in a good conscience"(1 Tim. 3:9), and "holding faith and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: (1 Tim. 1:9). Paul warned the believers to EXAMINE and PROVE themselves to see whether they be in the faith because he did not want their faith to become SHIPWRECKED!
I used to wonder about the "examine yourselves" verse. Why were believers told to do this? Either you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for your soul's salvation or not, I reasoned. What is this "examine yourselves" teaching all about. But once I could see that "believing" (saving faith) must be present with a good conscience, it all tied together and made sense.
I also pondered God's reasons for inspiring Paul to write the many commands and teachings for believers to follow. If faith,
not works is the way we are justified, then what's the reason for all these commands? Aren't they rather superfluous? No! Every word of God is pure and is there for a reason: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."-2 Tim. 3:16
This verse was written to Timothy but is not just for men of God: pastors. It is for
all of us. Why do we need to be "thoroughly furnished unto all good works" if we are saved by faith and
not works of righteousness? Because believers' hearts have been "sprinkled from an evil conscience" and they must hold the "mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" which can only be done by knowing and obeying the scriptures that are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
What does a "pure conscience" concerning faith consist of? It consists of judging as right or wrong the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections according to the Holy Scriptures and instantly approving or condemning them. It is by the Scriptures that we measure our actions and thus hold faith in a good conscience or a bad conscience.
It matters greatly whether we hold the most holy faith in a
good conscience (obeying the doctrines, reproofs, corrections, and instructions in righteousness in the Holy Scriptures) or in a BAD conscience (disobeying the doctrines, reproofs, corrections, and instructions in righteousness) which leads to our faith being shipwrecked. Sadly, many
people who regard themselves as born again Christians hold their faith in a bad conscience and
commit adultery, fornication, are covetous, fierce, traitors, heady, highminded, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Tragically, many believers have a form of godliness but deny the
power thereof. What power are they denying? The power to live godly in Christ Jesus. This power is being denied in their lives because they are under censored teaching that leaves out this truth. Thank the dear Lord God this truth has not been censored from the Holy Scriptures, the King James Bible.
We can know everything God says about salvation in His Holy Word.
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