OUR CONSCIENCE AND THE ASSURANCE OF FAITH
Please note, however, that our conscience is troubled not only due to the intuition from God in our spirit. If there is anything wrong with us, our conscience will speak something for God. If, for example, we do something wrong toward a brother, right away the conscience within us will speak for God to tell us we are wrong. Then our conscience demands that we do two things. First, we must confess to the Lord to ask forgiveness from Him, and second, we must go to the brother and say, “Brother, forgive me. I was wrong in that matter.” Why must we confess to the Lord and go to the brother? It is because the conscience demands that we do.
We all know from our experience that if we do not confess and ask forgiveness, something in our conscience accuses us, and we lose the rest, peace, and assurance of faith. Then we do not have the boldness to come to the Lord. There is a barrier, a separation, a wall, between us and the Lord. This hinders our prayer life very much. As long as we have an accusation in our conscience, it is impossible for us to contact the Lord to pray in a living way. We simply cannot pray because there is something between us and the Lord, damaging our conscience and hindering us.
Our assurance of faith has very much to do with a good, pure conscience. An offense, an accusation, in our conscience is like a hole in a vessel, out of which all the water leaks. As long as our conscience has an offense, our assurance of faith will leak out because our conscience is breached. An accusation in our conscience makes it impossible to have the assurance of faith. We simply cannot make ourselves believe in the Lord.
It is not necessary to have a big problem for our conscience to be troubled. Sometimes it is the small matters that trouble our conscience. Sometimes it is just a wrong or inaccurate word. After we speak such a word, we sense that we are wrong. Then, if we do not take care of our conscience, we will have constant accusations. We will have an evil conscience. It will be not pure, so we will not be at peace, and we will lose the assurance of faith. To be sure, if there is an offense in our conscience, our assurance of faith, our peace, and our boldness will be gone. Therefore, if we are going to contact God and serve the Lord, we need to take care of our conscience.
THREE KINDS OF GOVERNMENT
When the conscience speaks something for God, there is a strict regulation within us. In these days we have seen that the kingdom of the heavens is the heavenly rule, but the heavenly rule has much to do with the conscience. If we lose the rule of our conscience, we do not know what the heavenly rule is, because without the conscience we cannot know whether we are right or wrong. It is the conscience that regulates within us to always tell us what is right and what is wrong. Without the conscience, we do not have this kind of sense.
We need to see how our conscience came to have its present position. According to the Scriptures, the spirit of man became deadened in the fall of man. After man committed sin, sin deadened and damaged the human spirit. However, after the fall, the function of the conscience in the human spirit became more active than it was before the fall. On the one hand, the human spirit was deadened, and sin damaged its functions of fellowship with God and intuition from God, while on the other hand, the function of the conscience in the human spirit became more active and positive. This is because in the fall man took the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and this knowledge of good and evil caused the function of the conscience to become more developed.
After the creation and before the fall, man in his original condition was sinless. In other words, man did not know the difference between good and evil. Good and evil were like a foreign language to him. If we could have asked Adam, “What is good, and what is evil?” Adam might have said, “I do not know what you mean. I did not know there are such words as good and evil.” When man was sinless, he had no knowledge of good and evil. This was truly wonderful. When we have the knowledge of good and evil, it is so easy to do evil. If we never knew what stealing is, we would probably never steal. Once we have the knowledge of stealing, we may do it. In a sense, the knowledge of good and evil is evil in itself. It is better not to have this knowledge. After the fall, man received the knowledge of good and evil, so the function of his conscience was much developed.
(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)