Paul talks about conscience 5 times in this letter to Timothy, and again in the next one.
Here Paul warns Timothy to keep his conscience clear, going hand in hand with faith to enable him to fight the battle before him well. But those who reject their consciences have their faith shipwrecked.
Conscience is nothing like that comic character with a halo sitting on our shoulders, it is a wonderful thing. Even those who have never heard God’s law have at least a fragment written on their hearts, and their consciences bear witness both to what is right and also how we fall short (Rom 2:14-15). Our consciences can be a wonderful early warning system as we begin to walk outside God’s path.
But our consciences can become weak and inaccurate (1 Corinthians 8) either being silent when we need warning or falsely accusing. Our consciences will be desensitized and “seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim 4:2) by sin. The deliberate deadening of God’s witness in our hearts can have catastrophic consequences, not just shipwrecking Hymenaeus and Alexander’s faith but casting them into Satan’s waiting arms.
We are often encouraged to actively write God’s word on our hearts (Proverbs 3:3, 7:3). That God writes His law on our hearts is part of His covenant with His people (Jer 31:33). The witness to His living word in our hearts guides us nimbly along His paths and reinforces that sense of pleasure when we do what is right. A strong conscience can be a real blessing and a real ally to faith.
Father, my heart is yours to write on. Please strengthen that witness in me to guide me on your paths, because that is where I want to walk.
Written by David Cornell