How many times have you heard the expression, “Let your conscience be your guide” or something similar? Have you ever stopped to think about what is being implied in such a statement? Throughout life there are things which are learned, and most everyone is instilled with a sense of right versus wrong, good versus evil but where do the boundaries for such ideologies come from?
First, it is necessary to define the word “conscience.” Webster’s Dictionary defines conscience as “conformity to what one considers to be correct, right, or morally good” to which most will indicate as being sufficient for daily living, yet this “moral guide” had to have a place of origin. The place of its origin is of utmost importance when an individual determines the level of influence their conscience will hold.
Use the following for an example, “One person believes that if two children engage in a fight at school both should be suspended while someone else believes that those same children should only have to serve a day or two in detention.” Which person is correct in the mode of discipline? One can be right, one can be wrong, both could be wrong, but in the end, both cannot be correct. There must be a definitive means of correction in which the children are disciplined, and such a conclusion is found with every situation in life. The need for definitive boundaries and consequences is a must.
Secondly, where do boundaries originate? An accurate answer can only come from an in-depth study of the Bible beginning in Genesis. In the first three chapters, the details of the earth’s creation are seen, as well as the creation of man. In the first five days of creation, God created everything except for mankind. It was on the sixth day that man was created and given dominion over the earth. God gave man dominion (control) over the Garden of Eden and all living things and was told that everything was available to be partaken of except for the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17). It was the woman who gave in to the temptation of the serpent, as well as her conscience, partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and then convinced Adam to do so as well (Gen. 3:1-6). In this account, man and woman found themselves in a compromising situation and allowed their conscience to guide them into what would become known as the fall of mankind and spiritual separation from God.
Through the remainder of Genesis Chapter 3, the consequences of man’s decision to follow his conscience is seen in being put out of the Garden of Eden, the man to work the ground and fight against adversity to support his family and the woman having to suffer through childbearing.
Now, fast-forward to modern society and the ability to look back through history the results of mankind’s inability to follow directions can be seen. Paul makes a beautiful statement regarding how our minds ought to be fashioned in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 when he says, “And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
May we always be examining our hearts to ensure our conscience is programmed correctly, guiding us in the truth of God’s Word.
-by Jonathan Bennett