It is a firmly held religious belief that human conscience is sacred before God and to violate it is sin.
Human conscience is not a side issue or a matter of little importance to the Christian faith or to the teaching of Scripture.
So what does the Scripture teach regarding conscience? The following are several key teachings worth highlighting:
• The goal of Christian teaching is to produce love, a clean conscience, and faith.
“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)
• Old Testament sacrifices could not cleanse a person’s conscience, but the blood of Jesus can.
“It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience.” Hebrews 9:9 (NKJV)
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14 (NKJV)
• Our conscience testifies to us.
“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NKJV)
• Baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God.
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 3:21 (NKJV)
• The Holy Spirit can and will enlighten and prompt our conscience.
“I am speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me.” Romans 9:1 (AMPC)
• Conscience witnesses and convicts concerning right and wrong.
“They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” Romans 2:15 (NLT)
“Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” John 8:9 (NKJV)
• The apostle Paul did not violate his conscience, but strove to keep his conscience without offense toward God and men.
“Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’” Acts 23:1 (NKJV)
“This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Acts 24:16 (NKJV)
“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day.” 2 Timothy 1:3 (NKJV)
• Having a clear conscience is a requirement for leadership.
“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.” 1 Timothy 3:8–9 (NKJV)
• We must have a clean conscience to approach God in full assurance of faith.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV)
• When our conscience is clear we can share Christ with others confidently.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15–16 (NIV)
• Those that depart from the faith have seared their conscience by continually violating it.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:1–2 (NIV)
• When a person rejects or thrusts away their conscience it can end in spiritual shipwreck.
“Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith.” 1 Timothy 1:19 (AMPC)
Conscience and Submission to Governmental Authorities
It is clear that our human conscience is important to God. How then should your conscience influence your submission to those placed in positions of governmental power? In Romans we read:
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:1–5 (NKJV)
Recognizing and respecting governmental authorities is taught clearly in Scripture, and rendering to them what is due them is also taught by Scripture and conscience.
However, believers are not taught to blindly obey the authorities over them. Peter declared in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (NKJV) and Acts 4:19, paraphrased, says that we should listen to God more than men.
Also, Romans 13 goes on to tell us just what is being spoken about in regards to obeying governing authorities. Verses 6–7 specifically teach that the obedience required by believers deals with taxes, customs, respect, and honor.
When a governing authority demands that a believer do something that violates Scripture or conscience, that believer is not obligated to submit to those demands.
The Sacred Nature of Conscience
There is something truly sacred about our conscience, and it ultimately impacts our relationship with God. Consider the following verses:
“I know and am convinced (persuaded) as one in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is [forbidden as] essentially unclean (defiled and unholy in itself). But [none the less] it is unclean (defiled and unholy) to anyone who thinks it is unclean.” Romans 14:14 (AMPC)
“You must not, for the sake of food, undo and break down and destroy the work of God! Everything is indeed [ceremonially] clean and pure, but it is wrong for anyone to hurt the conscience of others or to make them fall by what he eats. The right thing is to eat no meat or drink no wine [at all], or [do anything else] if it makes your brother stumble or hurts his conscience or offends or weakens him.” Romans 14:20–21 (AMPC)
“But the man who has doubts (misgivings, an uneasy conscience) about eating, and then eats [perhaps because of you], stands condemned [before God], because he is not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful].” Romans 14:23 (AMPC)
To put it simply, our conscience has been given to us by God, and He considers it so sacred that to violate it is a sin.
If someone believes that drinking wine or eating pork (merely examples used to illustrate the point) is a sin and they do so, whether through personal choice, peer pressure, or governmental coercion, they have sinned against God.
As Christians, we stand unwaveringly on this clearly taught precept of Scripture.
One person may have the liberty to drink wine or eat pork while another’s conscience is not free to do so. Each must follow his or her own conscience on such debatable matters that are not clearly taught in Scripture.
The fourteenth chapter of Romans deals with debatable matters in which a person’s own conscience must become the rule of their conduct (see Romans 14:1).
First Corinthians 8:4–13 teaches the same thing, stating that a violation in this area will defile one’s conscience and can ultimately result in someone perishing spiritually if they continue to violate their conscience.
The fact is that if someone is made to violate their conscience (even with things that are doubtful or debatable) they may soon be emboldened to violate the clear-cut precepts of Scripture, which can end in their spiritual destruction.
The same thing (regarding pork, wine) holds true when it comes to a mandated vaccine. One person in the church may have no issues of conscience about getting one while another person is convinced it is wrong or harmful.
Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19), and if a believer’s conscience tells him or her that it is wrong or harmful to put a vaccine in their body, then it would be sinful for them to do so.
As members of the body of Christ, we as believers should never participate in anything that either Scripture or our conscience tells us is sinful. This is a firmly held religious belief of our Christian faith.