II. THE PRACTICE OF DEALING WITH THE CONSCIENCE
The above twelve points belong to our knowledge in dealing with the conscience; the following refers to the practical application in dealing with the conscience.
A. The Scriptural Basis
1)First Timothy 1:19, “Holding…a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith.” The good conscience mentioned by the Apostle means a conscience that deals with all blemishes in order to maintain a blameless condition. If one permits some offense to linger in his conscience, his faith will become shipwrecked, and gradually his spiritual treasure will leak out; he himself will also fall away before the Lord.
2)First Timothy 1:5, “…love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned.” In order to have the love which is necessary in a Christian’s walk, we need to have a good conscience, for this love comes out of a good conscience.
3)Acts 24:16, “Herein I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men always.”
4)Acts 23:1, “…I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day.”
The Apostle testifies twice about his conscience being void of offense. This reveals one reason why he had such strength and boldness in the Lord’s work; that is, he continually dealt with his conscience, keeping it from being condemned.
B. The Object of Dealing with the Conscience
It is not the conscience itself, but rather the feeling of the conscience that is the object of our dealings. Besides the premature feelings, over-sensitive feelings, and the feelings of Satan’s accusations and attacks, all normal feelings of the conscience are the object of our dealings.
Ephesians 4:19 tells us that sinners “cast off all feeling” (Darby). The feeling emphasized here is the feeling of the conscience. Before a man is saved, he is submerged in sin. In his living and behavior, he endeavors to ignore and nullify the feeling of his conscience. Therefore, among the Gentiles, a moral man may respect the feeling in his conscience, but the evil man is void of feeling in his conscience. The principle is the same with those who are saved. The more spiritual one is, the more sensitive the feeling of his conscience becomes. On the other hand, if he has little prayer and lacks fellowship with the Lord, the feeling in his conscience is insensitive.
In the context of Ephesians 4, the Apostle admonishes us to put off the old man and put on the new man, and to walk according to the grace whereby we were called. Thus, the normal Christian life is seen to be absolutely related to the feeling of the conscience. In the past, when living in the old man, we cast away all the feeling of the conscience; now, having put off the old man and having put on the new man, we should live with due attention given to the feeling of the conscience and have dealings according to these feelings.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)