CONSCIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE
In walking according to the spirit and listening to the voice of the conscience, we should also remember that the conscience is limited by its knowledge. Our conscience is the organ for distinguishing good and evil. To distinguish means to have the knowledge. The knowledge to differentiate between good and evil is not the same among many Christians. Some have more knowledge and some have less knowledge, because individual circumstances are not the same and, perhaps, the lessons learned are also not similar. Therefore, we cannot act according to someone else’s standard, nor can we expect others to live according to the light we have. In the fellowship between the believer and God, an unknown sin will not hinder the fellowship. If the believer walks according to the standard which he already knows: keeping (obeying) everything which he knows to be according to God’s will and rejecting everything which he knows to be condemned by God, he is able to have a complete fellowship with God. A young believer always thinks that his knowledge is insufficient and, therefore, that he cannot please God. On one hand, spiritual knowledge is very high in value, but on the other hand, the lack of knowledge is not an obstruction in the fellowship with God. In God’s fellowship with man, He cares about our attitude toward His will, not how much we know concerning His will. If our attitude is to seek after His will sincerely and truly, even desiring to keep it wholeheartedly, the presence of many unknown sins will not cause us to lose our fellowship or even have a limited fellowship with God. If fellowship is determined according to God’s holiness, none of the most holy saints from the past until the present time would be qualified to have a complete fellowship with God even for a moment. Furthermore, they would all be driven away from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might. The sins that we are not aware of have been covered under the precious blood.
On the other hand, if we are aware of and tolerate a little sin that the conscience has condemned, spontaneously we will not have a full fellowship with God. Just as a very tiny speck in the eye can impede our eyesight and give us pain, a sin that we are aware of, no matter how small, can prevent us from seeing the smiling face of God. Once the conscience has an offense, fellowship will also suffer. A particular sin may remain in the believer for many years, but as long as he does not know about it, it will not hinder his fellowship with God. However, the moment light (knowledge) comes, the conscience condemns. Then if it remains for another day, the fellowship of that day will be lost. God fellowships with us according to the level of our conscience. If we think that a particular sin, which has remained for many years without causing any hindrance, can continue to remain and cause no harm, we are the most foolish persons.
The reason for this is that the conscience can only condemn according to the most recent light it receives. It cannot condemn any sin that it does not know to be sin. Since there is advancement in the believer’s knowledge, his conscience also advances; the more knowledge the believer has, the more sins the conscience will condemn. The believer does not have to grieve for anything that he does not know, nor does he need to strive to do anything. As long as he absolutely submits to what he knows, it is sufficient. "But if we walk in the light," that is, if we walk in the light which we have already, "as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin" (even though many are still unknown) (1 John 1:7). God has limitless light, yet God also walks according to His limitless light. The light which we have is very limited, yet we must walk according to this light. Only then can we have fellowship with God, and only then will the blood of His Son cleanse us from all our sins. We still have sins which have not been removed, but if we do not know about them and the light has not yet shone, we are still able to have full fellowship with God. We must remember that even though the conscience is very crucial, the conscience is not the measurement of our holiness because of knowledge. Christ is the unique standard of our holiness. But in our fellowship with God, God uses the matter of having a conscience void of offense as the condition of His fellowship with us. Therefore, after we completely submit to the guidance of the conscience, we should never think, even for a moment, that we are already "perfect." A good conscience only tells us that according to what we know, we have achieved what we should achieve at the present.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 21, by Watchman Nee)