Many of us often wander around with no idea which way we should go. We often struggle with what is the right thing to do in certain situations. At those times Christians and non-Christians fall back on a saying that many people think is in the Bible; “let your conscience be your guide”. It sounds good doesn’t it but no, it’s not in the Bible.
Some of you older folk may have heard it first from Jiminy Cricket in the Disney movie, Pinocchio. Jiminy Cricket sang this to Pinocchio; “Take the strait and narrow path; and if you start to slide -give a little whistle, give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide.”
The saying didn’t originate with Jiminy Cricket it really originated as an Islamic saying 1,300 years ago. “Caliph Umas Ibn Al-khattab was the father of one of Muhammad's wives and was the third Muslim Caliph. After conquering Jerusalem, he was returning to Medina where he prayed and gave a message at Jabiah. One of the things Al-Khattab said was: -’And speak the truth. Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth. Say what you feel. Let your conscience be your guide’”
It is true that every person is born with a conscience that tells you the difference between right and wrong.
Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart.
No one had to tell Adam and Eve that they had sinned.
Genesis 3:7-8 (NKJV)7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
No one had to tell Cain that he had done wrong when he killed Abel.
Genesis 4:9 (NKJV)9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
The word conscience comes from two Latin words, “con”, which means “with” and “science” which means, “to know”. The Greek word translated “conscience” is “suneidesis”, which means, “to know together.” This has the idea of “knowing with ourselves” or “knowing within ourselves.” When it comes to moral decisions, it means to “understand internally”.
“Let your conscience be your guide” is a well-known expression, but not necessarily good advice. When you rely on your conscience to guide moral decisions it’s reliability is dependent on the principles that guide your conscience. If those principles are those of today where the belief is that there is really no right or wrong, “no black or white only shades of gray” then your conscience will set you up for moral failure. On the other hand if your conscience is programmed with God’s word (the Bible), and yielded to the Holy Spirit only then you can depend on it.
God Never Intended For Your Conscience To Guide You
Your conscience judges your actions and decisions, it doesn’t set the standard for them. Your conscience either accuses or excuses sin, it is not a guide to truth.
Romans 2:14-15 (NKJV)14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
Your conscience can be good.
Hebrews 13:18 (NKJV)18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.
2 Timothy 1:3 (NKJV)3 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,
Or your conscience can be guilty, corrupt, and weak.
Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV)22 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.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NKJV)1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
You feel guilty at first but the more you sin the less guilty you feel. If this continues a day may come when you believe that what you’re doing is fine.
The Perfect Guide
Since our conscience is filled with principles from a society where “everything goes” it needs to be cleaned. There is great conflict between those principles and God’s purpose for your conscience which is to serve as a check between right and wrong. God works through the conscience to make you aware of sin. When you go against the check mechanism of your conscience you will develop a “guilty conscience”. The check that God has placed in you causes you to now struggle. The only thing that will end that struggle and then cleanse your “guilty conscience” is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 9:14 (NKJV)14 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?
As faulty as the conscience may be, it is sometimes a good nagging voice that approves or disapproves what you are contemplating doing. You should listen to the voice, but not give it the final say. That belongs to God and God’s Word. -Let Your Conscience Be your Guide? Not Exactly
Once cleansed then look to the Bible, God’s word, not your conscience to guide you.
Psalm 119:9-11 (NKJV)9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
God’s word is consistent and that consistency is the standard by which your conscience can cause you to make good moral decisions.
God’s Word always points to Jesus and He becomes your standard for right and wrong. Moral decisions will no longer be dependent on your conscience because it is unreliable. You don’t decide what is right or wrong on how you feel because feelings are unreliable. God’s Word will guide you in understanding what is right and wrong.
When you become a Christian and allow Jesus Christ to become Lord of you life the Holy Spirit also dwells in the believer and if you are filled and allow Him He leads you in all decisions.
John 16:13 (NKJV) However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Only God’s Word is the only consistent standard by which we can live and by which your consciences can make a good judgment. No "let your conscience be your guide" is not in the Bible but the Bible does tell us that it, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus are infallible guides. Follow them and you will never go wrong.
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.