Making Biblical Decisions: Training Your Conscience – May 17, 2024

Since violating and ignoring our conscience is a sin, it is vital that we train our conscience to rightly warn us of sin. A conscience that fails to warn us of sin is like a smoke detector without batteries. It is hanging on the ceiling, but it is of no use. When the fire starts, we will have no warning. One the other hand, a conscience that warns us of things that are not sin binds us to a legalistic and bitter lifestyle apart from the freedom the Gospel provides. Therefore, training our conscience becomes necessary to a vibrant Christian life.

Each summer my lawn begins to grow. In Michigan, spring often arrives suddenly. Because of the wet environment, the grass grows and mowing becomes a weekly (and sometimes daily activity). As the summer progresses, I need to continually care for my lawn mower. Each week I need to fill it with gas, check the oil level and quality, and maintain the blades sharpness. If I fail to keep an eye on these things, my lawn begins to suffer. In a similar way, our conscience requires consistent maintenance and training.

In Ephesians, Paul informs us that we should train our conscience to understand what pleases the Lord. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10). While we once walked in sin and did not care if we pleased God, this is no longer the case. Now we care deeply about what pleases God.

No longer should Christians live like they did as unbelievers. We are children of the light and we must live like it. This involves those things that are good, right, and true. Immediately, one should think of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Our lives are no longer marked by the works of the flesh. The character and pattern of our life should immediately reveal that something different has taken place within us.

In order to use the God given alarm system of the conscience, we should teach our conscience what those good, right, and true things are. Paul informs us that this involves discernment. The word translated discernment holds the idea of testing and examining. A right conscience does not come by accident. Instead, Christians are to intentionally take steps to ensure that their conscience understands what pleases God.