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."
When I read this verse recently it struck me that I have my "own" conscious. It's something inside me and it belongs to me. My conscious communicates with the Holy Ghost as you can see below:
Romans 9:1 "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost..."
Since I have my own conscience and it's "something within me" and it communes with God's Spirit, it seems that the conscience is very important to me! Since I have a conscience others must! We see here that other people have a conscience and as humans, we compare them! People compare bodies, minds and talents. The conscience is no different"
1 Corinthians 10:29 "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
It would appear that the "conscience" has a value system because what others do, their liberty, is compared to what my conscience values. Our conscience is what judges others. Since we're not to judge others harshly, we're to keep our conscience in check. It can run rampant if we don't!
Since I have a conscience and another does as well, it follows that everyone has a conscience:
2 Corinthians 4:2 "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
Yes, everyone has a conscience! Do you suppose that animals do as well? Scientists, believe it or not, only have opinions on animal conscienceness. They do admit that the conscience evaluates right from wrong and controls behavior and guilt. Picture, if you will, the angel and devil sitting on your shoulder, both advising. This is a caricature of your behavior. Since animals do not have moral values, their decision-making is narcissistic and objective in preserving instinctual behaviors.
Scripture tells us that the conscience has a "power" component:
Some have a "weak conscience" implying that others have a stronger one. Philosophers believe that the conscience is balanced toward "good" and strives to be "good". However, "goodness" is abstract and is based on the background, knowledge, intelligence and experience of each person. Those living in isolated heathen societies may have a less developed conscience, but development is not a measure of the power of the conscience. Those living in a monastery with daily religious training and experience may have a well-developed conscience, but the power of those can be either weak or strong. Their conscience may be weak because it's untested due to the isolation. That's why men are prone to sin when removed from their normal life situation. The most developed conscience is a person with "purity":
1 Timothy 3:9 "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."
Purity of conscienceness is a well-developed and has little to do with power. Those with a pure conscience are described as such:
Matthew 18:3 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Little children don't have well-developed moral systems. Little children don't have inherent weaknesses nor powerfulness. Their conscience has not been soiled by deception. They are accepting! They believed Jesus because Jesus said it! That's simplicity! Jesus "seared their conscience" on the spot without building a strong value system, having vast knowledge nor great wisdom. Their conscious was pure! It had not been contaminated by the teachings of the world. They are in a state of innocence!
Mankind was born in innocence. As the children, they blindly accepted the teachings of God because God said so and that's all they knew! (Adam and Eve). With the gain of knowledge (Satan's deception) Adam and Eve went from a "pure conscience" to a "deceived conscience". They were no longer innocent! Man's original condition was a strong conscience. Since it was pure, "good" was dominant. In fact "bad" had yet to exist in mankind.
With the strong deception of Satan "bad" entered the conscience of Adam and Eve. They now had the "knowledge of good and evil". That's not a good thing. Before that, they had only knowledge of "good" and were in harmony with the will of God. After the "fall" the conscience of Adam and Eve changed. "Evil" became part of the value system and their conscience was no longer "pure". In fact, once evil entered the world, "good" was no longer dominant in their conscience. Evil became the norm!
Psalm 10:3 "For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth."
Hence, wickedness became the norm for mankind. Even the conscience of the righteous was seared by pleasure. As a result, mankind's conscience became weak. In impurity the conscience lost it's power. Then along came Jesus!
John 16:7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
Jesus came with grace. He propitiated for our sins. By belief in Jesus and acceptance of his sacrifice, the born-again man had his slate wiped clean! That slate is the conscience. Our conscience was no longer depraved, but washed clean by Jesus' blood! Rather than evil remaining dominant in the conscience, "good" defined as "love" reigns supreme. Christians are still tempted (by Satan), but he (Satan) is defeated. He does not automatically get what he wants. The Holy Spirit Jesus spoke of came to mankind. His Spirit witnesses with ours. When our conscience is invigorated, Satan jumps in to deceive, but the Holy Spirit energizes your will-power to do what's right.
We're no longer "pure", but we're saved. We'll always have to deal with original sin, but thanks to the Comforter, we can do it! We will never be given more than we can handle!
1 Corinthians 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
So here we go! The "conscience" is a faculty given to man by God which originially had pure moral values entirely based on God's will. Man's conscience was confounded by Satan back in Eden and modern man's genetics has an imperfect and impure conscience as a result of the sin of one man. Although by one man we're prone to sin, by another man, Jesus, we're redeemed!
Our faculty of the soul is the mediator between our mind and spirit. It takes outside influences, processes "cause and effect" based on a value system, and determines our actions. Some are immature Christians and have a weak conscience. Others are mature and have a strong conscience. The power of the conscience is based on our communion with God. With prayer and mediation in God's will, the Holy Spirit will empower us! The conscience is strengthened! We will never have a perfectly "pure" conscience again, but we can bear witness with God in simplicity. We can doubt not, just as the little children!
Just as in Eden knowledge confounds the spirit. We come humbly and meekly to the Lord and he'll keep the conscience pure!
If our actions are in harmony with our "beliefs" we are happy. When we fail to heed God's will by listening to the Holy Ghost, we feel guilt. Guilt is the "check valve" on our conscience to keep us from sinning. Obeying God keeps our conscience working well and a well-balanced conscience means happiness. Pleasure is associated with "guilt" since things of the flesh are pleasurable, but cause guilt.
Those unable to experience "guilt" should be wary of the efficacy of their salvation. They are reprobate and headed for hell. Those without feelings of guilt at all are called psychopaths by psychologists. "Reprobate" is the condition of their soul since their conscience is just like a useless gall bladder. It doesn't do the job God gave it to do!
The conscience is a system of the body. God gave us a respiratory system, digestive, etc. which all the animals have. However, since God gave mankind a soul, he had to give us a system in order to communicate with that soul. That system is the conscience. Keep a healthy conscience. Doctor it daily. Immunize it from disease by God's word, prayer and meditation. When it's attacked by a virus, put on the full-armor of God. Allow his Holy Spirit to fight the disease of sin which destroys the soul. An unresponsive conscience will allow the soul to be destroyed by sin. Don't go there!