1 Peter 3:14-17
But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
Conscience is that faculty of the human mind by which rational creatures endeavour to form an estimate of their own principles and practices, so as to determine whether they are good or evil. It is universally admitted to be one of the most valuable of those powers which our all-wise and ever-gracious Creator has been pleased to impart to us. But it, like every other faculty of the mind, has been exposed to all the baneful effects of the Fall. It is by nature — in common with the human heart — ignorant, and perverse, and polluted. It must, before it can fully accomplish the purposes for which it is intended, be instructed, and purified by the Holy Spirit.
I. MISTAKEN VIEWS ON THIS SUBJECT ARE, IT IS TO BE LAMENTED, VERY COMMON.
1. Natural amiableness of disposition is sometimes mistaken for a good conscience. How many a friend, whose heart is desperately wicked in the sight of God, still cherishes the strongest earthly friendship! How many an individual, whose heart never entertained any just sense of the enormity of sin as perpetrated against a holy God, has yet sighed and cried over the miseries of mankind, and has done what he could to alleviate human wretchedness! But these emotions are no proof whatever of the conscience being right. Guilty, indeed, must that conscience be which can resist so much natural tenderness.
2. Partial contrition on account of sin is sometimes mistaken for a good conscience. Who experiences at times greater anguish than the drunkard? but who returns so readily or so speedily as he to his wonted practices?
3. Limited abstinence from evil is sometimes mistaken for a good conscience. Many are to be found who cautiously shun some sins, while they confidently rush upon others. All such partial turning from sin, or abstinence from evil, must prove that the conscience is not right before God.
II. WHAT, IT MAY NOW BE ASKED, IS, IN THE SCRIPTURAL SENSE OF THE TERM, A GOOD CONSCIENCE?
1. It is a conscience renewed by Divine grace.
2. It is a conscience regulated by the holy Scriptures. Even after holy principles are implanted within us, the conscience is liable to err unless a standard is provided by which its decisions may be governed. That standard the Word of God supplies. To it we must appeal in every situation in which we are placed. From it we must derive all that instruction in righteousness which we need.
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;