A Good Conscience
As Christians, the very idea of sharing our faith can be intimidating. The early church, confronted with the threats of those in opposition to the gospel, prayed for boldness (Acts 4:29). I believe, we too should be offering such a prayer. We need to be courageous for Christ! In our endeavor for such courage and boldness, we must also remember our need to have a “good conscience” (1st Peter 3:16, NKJV.) It has been said that, “courage without conscience is a wild beast.”
. . . having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
1st Peter 3:16
As we have already considered in a previous lesson, there is a need for us to “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is” in us (1st Peter 3:15). Exactly what is meant by conscience? Thayer’s defines it as the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending the one, condemning the other. The conscience is that internal voice that speaks to you, warning you before choices are made. When people disregard it, seek not to mature it through Christ; they begin to loose “feeling” (Ephesians 4:19) which means to be apathetic. Oddly enough, one need not violate his or her conscience in order to sin. Paul, while before the Jewish council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts 23:1) Paul, even when he was persecuting the church, had a clear conscience because he believed what he was doing was right.
Peter reveals that our conscience plays a role in our ability to share Christ with others. Why? Because there will be times that we will face persecution for what we believe. The world will seek to portray us as “evildoers.” Just this past week I heard of two of our young people who were vilified for taking a stand against certain sinful behavior. But when faced with such adversity, we are called to exhibit “good conduct in Christ.” Not responding in kind, and yes, praying for those who persecute us are just some of the things we are called to do. Why? One commentator put it this way, “The thought is that the critics would see such a magnanimous spirit and good life that they would become ashamed of their own conduct and would cease their reviling.” God said it this way, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1str Peter 2:15) I also suspect, that when we are faced with such adversity and conduct ourselves in a Christ-like manner, it could be the very time someone asks us about our hope.
And when we conduct ourselves accordingly, we can know that “blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.
Lesson Title – A Good Conscience
Lesson Text – 1st Peter 3:16