THE CONSCIENCE OF THE BELIEVER
After the spirit of the believer has been regenerated, his conscience is made alive. The precious blood of the Lord Jesus has purified the conscience so that the conscience is clean, possessing the sharpest feeling, and able to work according to the will of the Holy Spirit. The sanctifying and renewing work of the Holy Spirit in man and the work of the conscience are mutually related and interconnected. If the believer wants to be filled by the Holy Spirit, wants to be sanctified, wants his life to fit into God’s purpose, and wants to walk fully according to the spirit, he cannot ignore the voice of the conscience. If we do not give the conscience the position it deserves, we definitely will fall into the position of walking according to the flesh. Being faithful in dealing with the conscience is the first step in the work of sanctification. Walking according to the conscience is a sign of real spirituality. If a fleshly believer does not allow the conscience to do a thorough job, he has no way of entering into the spiritual realm. Even if a man thinks of himself as being spiritual, his spirituality is without foundation. If sins and the things which are not according to God’s purpose and do not befit the saints’ proper conduct are not dealt with, according to the voice of the conscience, then a spiritual foundation has not been properly laid. No matter how many spiritual ideals are built upon it, they will eventually collapse.
The work of the conscience is to testify to us whether we are right with God and men, and whether our deeds, thoughts, and words are according to God’s will and not in rebellion against Christ. Whenever there is progress in the Christian life, the testimony of the conscience and the testimony of the Holy Spirit are almost identical. When the conscience is completely controlled by the Holy Spirit, the conscience becomes keener day by day until it matches the speaking of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Holy Spirit also speaks to the believers through the conscience. This is the meaning of the words of the apostle: "My conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 9:1).
If our conscience testifies that we are wrong, then we are wrong. If the conscience condemns us of sins, we must repent immediately. We definitely cannot cover up or bribe the conscience. "If our heart blames us, it is because God is greater than our heart" (1 John 3:20). Will God not condemn us even more? The condemnation of the conscience tells us that we are wrong. Whatever our conscience condemns is definitely condemned by God as well. There is certainly no such thing as the righteousness of God being less than the standard of our conscience. Therefore, if our conscience tells us that we are wrong, we must certainly be wrong.
Since we are wrong, what should we do? If we have not done the thing yet, we should stop; if we have committed it, we must repent, confess our sins, and seek the cleansing of the precious blood. It is a pity that believers do not walk this way today. Once the conscience reproves, they think about bribing and making peace with it so that the conscience will no longer voice its disapproval. In this situation, believers usually have two choices. One choice for believers is to argue with the conscience, trying to use reasons to justify their actions. They think that anything that can be justified by reasonings must be according to God’s will. Therefore, they hope that the conscience will also be quiet. Little do they know that the conscience, like the intuition, does not function by reasonings. It knows God’s will through the intuition; it condemns whatever is not the will of God. It only speaks on behalf of the will of God and does not care about the reasons. A believer should not walk according to reason nor do whatever is reasonable; rather, he should do the will of God as revealed in the intuition. Whenever the believer rebels against the moving of the intuition, the conscience will speak out to condemn. Although explanations by way of reason may satisfy the mind, they are not sufficient to satisfy the conscience. Once the conscience has condemned a certain matter, it will never accept any reasoning or stop condemning until the matter is removed. Initially, the conscience only testifies of right and wrong; after the believer has grown in the spiritual life, it not only testifies of right and wrong, but also of what is and is not of God. Therefore, even though many things are good in the eyes of man, they are condemned by the conscience unless they are based on God’s revelation and not the believer’s initiation.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 21, by Watchman Nee)