PHBC July 5, 12, 1998

Series: First Peter, Ser. #54

PILGRIMS MUST HAVE A GOOD CONSCIENCE


Scripture: I Pet. 3:13-17

TEXT: 1 Peter 3:16-17 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

INTRO: So that we may correctly comprehend the message in these verses, I think it necessary to define conscience.

The first is conscience. The Greek word is suneidesis {soon-ií-day-sis} {suneivdhsi" }. It is used 32 times in the KJV and is translated conscience every time. It means, "the consciousness of anything, the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other.

Easton's Bible Dictionary defines the conscience as follows, Conscience ó that faculty of the mind, or inborn sense of right and wrong, by which we judge of the moral character of human conduct. It is common to all men. Like all our other faculties, it has been perverted by the Fall (John 16:2; Acts 26:9; Rom. 2:15). It is spoken of as "defiled" (Titus 1:15), and "seared" (1 Tim. 4:2). A "conscience void of offence" is to be sought and cultivated (Acts 24:16; Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12; 1 Tim. 1:5, 19; 1 Pet. 3:21).

I. ALL MEN ARE ENDOWED WITH A CONSCIENCE

A. In the fall, the consciences of all were perverted.

1. The conscience of the unregenerate person is defiled. Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

2. The conscience of the religious but unsaved man may be so deceived that he may think he is serving God when he is actually opposing him. John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

3. The conscience of an unregenerated religious person may be so trained that he feels he must do things that are contrary to truth. Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

B. The conscience of unregenerate persons may serve them well at time.

1. Lost people may sometimes be convicted in their conscience on a certain thing. John 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

2. The Gentiles had a conscience that caused them to do things commanded under the law so that they became a law unto themselves. Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.

II. IN REGENERATION AND CONVERSION WE EXPERIENCE A CHANGE IN OUR CONSCIENCE

A. The saved person has had his conscience purged. Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

B. The saved person has a good conscience. 1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

III. THIS CONSCIENCE WHICH WE RECEIVED NEEDS TO BE NOURISHED, TRAINED AND CULTIVATED

A. We must exercise ourselves to have a conscience that is void of offence toward God and men. Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

B. We must strive to live so as to have a good conscience. Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

C. We must so conduct ourselves in all things that our own conscience can bear witness to us that our life is according to godliness. Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.

D. The first and highest motive for our obedience to the laws of man and God is so that we can have an untroubled conscience. Romans 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

E. If you know a brother or sister has a weak conscience you may, for your own conscience sake, have to refrain from some things lest you wound their weak conscience. 1 Corinthians 8:7-13 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idolís temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

F. In some situations it is better to not question things lest you end up offending someone's conscience. 1 Corinthians 10:25-31 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lordís, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lordís, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another manís conscience? 30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

G. A safe way to determine whether or not something is right and whether or not you can do it with a clear conscience is determine whether or not you can do it to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1. Paul concludes the subject by giving them a general rule, sufficient to regulate every manís conscience and practiceóthat whether they eat, or drink, or whatsoever they do, to do it all with a habitual aim to the glory of God; by considering his precepts, and the propriety, expediency, appearance, and tendency of their actions.

a. If it violates God's word you cannot do it for God's glory.

b. If it is not considered appropriate conduct or action for a Christian you cannot do it for God's glory.

c. Even if it does not violate God's word, if it is not expedient or edifying to others, you cannot do it for God's glory. 1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

d. If it is not evil but has the appearance of evil, you cannot do it for God's glory. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

e. If it has the tendency to lead you into other sins, you cannot do it for the glory of God. Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? James 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

H. Avoid anything that might tend to cause your conscience to sear over. 1 Timothy 4:1-6 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

1. This mainly refers to lost people who go against their conscience until they can take all kinds of pleasure in sin. Romans 1:28-32 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

2. They can get to a point that they are past feeling. Ephesians 4:17-19 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

3. We who are saved can also train our conscience so that it does not speak as loudly against what we do that is wrong.

a. We can deny that something is really sin even though God's word is strongly against it.

b. We can rationalize with our conscience to the point we don't even see the need to rationalize anymore.

(1) The bible teaches the support of the Lord's work through tithes and offerings but I have seen people rationalize to the point that it does not bother them to rob God in tithes and offerings.

(2) The bible speaks against covetousness and people rationalize gambling which is a symptom of covetousness in many ways.

(a) Well, you gamble when you invest in stocks.

(b) Only gamble for entertainment, I limit the amount I can loose.

(c) I really go for the shows and food but sometimes gamble just a little.

c. You can rationalize sins until you can feel fairly comfortable in them.

Conc: Thank God he has given us a conscience. Let us cultivate it, and educate it by taking heed to God's word. Let us seek to make it be more sensitive to sin. Let us avoid anything that might cause it to become callused.

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