"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Serving God With A Pure Conscience (1:3) INTRODUCTION 1. The apostle Paul often spoke of having a good conscience toward God... a. In his defense before the council - Ac 23:1 b. In his defense before Felix - Ac 24:15-16 -- He also makes mention of it in his epistle to Timothy - 2Ti 1:3 2. The role our conscience plays is often misunderstood... a. Some assume it is to be the final authority for what you do b. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto for many -- Yet your conscience can sometimes lead you astray! 3. The value of a good conscience is perhaps often overlooked... a. Some do not listen to their conscience when they should b. They think nothing of the consequences of violating their conscience -- Yet ignoring your conscience can lead to sin, unbelief, and apostasy! [If we desire to serve God with a "pure conscience" like Paul did (2 Ti 1:3), then we do well to learn what we can about the conscience and its bearing on Christian living. A good place to begin is with...] I. THE CONSCIENCE DEFINED A. UNDERSTANDING THE CONSCIENCE... 1. "that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting to do the former, and to avoid the latter." - Vine 2. Note carefully: a. The conscience is a process of thought that distinguishes, i.e., makes moral judgments b. But it distinguishes what one "considers" morally good or bad 3. The conscience has the potential to be a great aid a. It can encourage us to do the good and avoid the bad b. But only if what one considers good and bad are actually good and bad! 4. Thus the conscience is like a watch a. It can serve a useful purpose, but only if properly set b. If set incorrectly (i.e., if misinformed about what is good or bad), then the conscience will lead us astray! B. THE CONSCIENCE MAY NOT ALWAYS BE A RELIABLE GUIDE... 1. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his life - Ac 23:1 a. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians!
- cf. Ac 26:9-11 b. He thought (his conscience guiding him) that he must oppose the name of Jesus c. His conscience worked properly, but it had been set incorrectly 3. Thus it is imperative that we ask ourselves: a. "Is what we 'consider' morally good or bad 'actually' good or bad?" b. "Are our moral judgments based upon God's absolute truths, or our own 'think so'?" c. I.e., "Has our conscience been properly 'set'?" [While the conscience may not always be a reliable guide, God desires that we have a good conscience regarding our faith, i.e., a pure conscience (cf. 1Ti 1:5; 3:9). So consider a few thoughts related to...] II. THE CONSCIENCE DEVELOPED A. HOW A PURE CONSCIENCE IS MADE POSSIBLE... 1. We are all sinners, so how can we possibly have a pure conscience? - cf. Ro 3:23 2. A clean conscience is made possible through Jesus' blood a. Old Testament sacrifices and ordinances were insufficient - He 9:9; cf. 10:1-4 b. The blood of Jesus can cleanse one's conscience - He 9:14; cf. 1Pe 3:21 3. Thus in baptism we make an appeal for a good conscience, trusting that the blood of Jesus will wash away our sins - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16 B. HOW A PURE CONSCIENCE IS MAINTAINED... 1. A good conscience is maintained by obedience to God's will a. Note that failure to do what we know is right is sinful - Ja 4:17 b. Failure to abstain from what we know is wrong is also sinful 2. Conduct with godly sincerity makes for a good conscience - cf. 2Co 1:12 a. Doing what you know is right with all sincerity develops confidence b. Thus the more you do what is good and abstain from what is wrong, the better and purer your conscience will be! [By God's grace, even the rankest of sinners can have their conscience cleansed. Through faithfulness to Christ, they can keep that conscience pure. But we should also note that it is possible to have...] III. THE CONSCIENCE DESTROYED A. MUCH HARM CAN BE DONE TO THE CONSCIENCE... 1. We can violate our conscience, which is sinful - Ro 14:22-23 2. We can defile our conscience, leading to unbelief - e.g., Ti 1:15 3. We can sear our conscience, leading to apostasy - e.g., 1 Ti 4:1-2 B. IGNORING OR VIOLATING THE CONSCIENCE IS DANGEROUS... 1. A guilty conscience can soon lead to a hardened conscience a. E.g., once our conscience is hardened regarding attendance - cf. He 10:25 b. ...it is more likely to become hardened against doing what is right in other areas 2. A hardened conscience can lead to a heart of unbelief - cf. He 3:12 a. The deceitfulness of sin hardens one's heart b. A hard heart can begin to question what one once believed CONCLUSION 1. Brethren, can we say together with... a. The writer of Hebrews: "...for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably"? - He 13:18 b. The apostle Paul: "I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience..."? - 2Ti 1:3 2. If not, and our conscience has not yet become so hardened that we will not heed, then we need to... a. Come to God's Son for the cleansing of our conscience through His blood b. Come to God's Word for the proper understanding of what is actually right and wrong c. Come to God's Family through frequent assembling to exhort us to do what is good Why not serve God with a pure conscience today...?