Institute in Basic Life Principles

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Why do I need a clear conscience?

The Purpose of a Clear Conscience
living in harmony with God and men

A healthy conscience discerns between good and evil, and it gets weighed down with guilt over wrongdoing. This sense of guilt should motivate you to take responsibility for your actions and seek forgiveness when you have done something wrong. You will gain a clear conscience when your sin is pardoned and its accompanying guilt is resolved through genuine repentance.

A clear conscience before God is possible through faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. When you receive God’s gift of salvation, your sins are forgiven and your relationship with God is restored. A clear conscience before other people comes through the repentance and restitution that restore damaged relationships.

Maintaining a clear conscience enhances your relationships in every sphere of life and brings many benefits, including those listed below:

  • Power to Overcome Temptation

    Sin brings destruction into your life and relationships. A clear conscience prompts you to live honorably in order to avoid the painful consequences of sin and the humiliation of confessing wrongdoing, asking for forgiveness, and making restitution. (See Romans 6:23, Psalm 32:5, and I John 1:9.)

  • Alertness to Make Wise Decisions

    Failure to confess secret sins to God and to those who are spiritually responsible for you is like allowing enemy soldiers to lie hidden in the territory that you are responsible to protect. If you make a habit of hiding your sins, you’ll be drawn into deeper and deeper bondage, because Satan uses a defiled conscience to lead a person into more sin.

    Maintaining a clear conscience motivates you to make wise choices—to take responsibility for your actions and avoid the consequences of hiding your mistakes. The Apostle Paul wrote, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Timothy 1:18–19).

  • Boldness to Witness

    As a Christian, unconfessed sin can make you ashamed to share your faith because you can be called a hypocrite. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 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” (I Peter 3:15–16).

  • Freedom to Resolve Conflicts and Build Friendships

    Unresolved offenses can be a stumbling block to the salvation and spiritual growth of others. However, the sincere humility that you express when you take the steps necessary to gain a clear conscience is a quality that usually generates endearment and honor.

    Paul lived “in all good conscience before God” (Acts 23:1). “Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men (Acts 24:16). “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward” (II Corinthians 1:12).

  • A Firm Foundation for the Christian Life

    The Apostle Paul told Timothy that a clear conscience is a key component of a life of faith. He told Timothy that “the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling” (I Timothy 1:5–6).

It takes effort and humility to maintain a clear conscience, but it is worth the investment. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

This material is adapted from the Basic Seminar Textbook, pages 50–55.

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