Service with Good Conscience

By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr.

At baptism into new life in Christ’s nature of holiness (Rom 6: 3-6; Gal 3:27), we make a commitment to serve God with “good conscience”. In itself, baptism is not so much about the symbolic washing away of sin with water but “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21).

And it’s an ideal we are supposed to live throughout our Christian lives both in the sight of God and our fellow man. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers: “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” (2 Cor. 1:12). 

Specific to his career in the ministry, he had this to say:  

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not:

“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” (2 Cor. 4:1-2; see also 1 Thess 2:4-10).

Conscience being what it is – the moral law within that convicts us for the bad done and applauds us for the good done (Rom. 2:15) — it is that unavoidable part of us that should guide us as to proper conduct before God and man, provided our consciences are not deadened to truth, as if “seared with a hot iron” (1Tim 4:2), or we do not deliberately ignore their moral judgments.  

With bad conscience, our faith walk with God is shipwrecked because despite the conviction of our conscience we refuse to do what is right. The result is that our baptismal vow to act in all sincerity towards God is reversed, and we are cast out of His presence. The apostle Paul charged Timothy to have faith and a good conscience”, citing the example of two individuals whose bad consciences alienated them from God: 

“This charge l commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,“Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, “Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom l delivered to Satan [expelled from the church] that they may learn not to blaspheme”  (1 Tim 1:18-20 NKJV). 

Bad conscience is unacceptable to God, for it is His wish that we offer our bodies as “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” which is our “reasonable service “ (Rom. 12:1). Many examples can be found in the scriptures of individuals who ‘served’ God with a bad conscience and received curses instead of blessings. 

An early example is Cain. He was cursed by God when he grudgingly brought an offering to God devoid of sincerity. His was unlike Abel’s who “offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice” (Gen 4: 3-7; Heb. 11:4).  

In the case of the couple Ananias and Sapphira of the early apostolic church, it was instant death when they brought an offering of money with the sole motive of receiving honour from men. It was an offering being made to God with a bad conscience! The apostle Peter queried Ananias:  

 “…. why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? “ Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things” (Act 5:3-6).  

Moments later his wife, his con-conspirator, would follow him to the grave – a terrifying lesson that God detests and punishes hypocrisy (vv. 7–11).  

Proverbs 21:27 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?” In our faith walk God, we will do well to remember that, with God “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). 

Meanwhile, there’s no hiding from Him our acts of insincerity; His Word, the “two-edged sword”, is able to discern our innermost thoughts: 

“For the word of God is quick [living] and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12-13; see also Jer. 17:10).  

Indeed, “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart” (Prov. 20:27 NKJV). The LORD is He who weighs the motives of men: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the LORD weigheth the spirits [motives] “ (Prov. 16:2).  

That is why we must not lean on our own understanding nor be wise in our eyes, but trust in the LORD and acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He shall direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-8).  

Bad conscience producing hardness of heart largely accounted for Israel’s failure to please God (Heb. 3:7-11). Lest we slip into a similar condition we are warned: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief [faith shipwrecked], in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (vv 12-13).  

Rather than “an evil heart of unbelief”, believers are urged to “draw near [to God in the Sanctuary] with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).  

All the elements are there! A sincere heart guarantees faith, not undermine it, while a pure conscience vindicates the baptismal answer of a good conscience toward God! 

In other to serve God with a good conscience, all other considerations should be subordinated to the will of Christ, as we “press toward the mark [i.e. goal] for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor 10:5-6; Php 3:13-19).  

This is the attitude born of a good conscience that considers “godliness with contentment to be “great gain” (1 Tim 6:6-8). Instead of pursuing worldly possessions (‘the love of money’), we are to “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (vv. 11– 2).  

Again, the number one consideration is service with a good conscience. Of this Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, makes a good example. Despite their childlessness, he and his wife Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:5-6).

Is it any wonder that the Lord gave them a son in their old age who was the harbinger of the Messiah? 

Like Moses Christ, as his perfect Antitype, “was faithful in all his house” … inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.  

“For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things is God. “ And Moses verily was faithful in all His house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; “But Christ as a son over His own house whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:2-6).  

So we must serve God with a good conscience, holding fast our faith and hope firmly unto the end. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Heb 3:14). 

From the beginning to the end, the Christian ought to serve God with a good conscience as indeed the apostle Paul testified time and again both publicly and privately. Opening his defence before the Sanhedrin, he declared, “Men and brethren, l have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). In his second letter to Timothy, which was the last apostolic epistle he wrote, the apostle thanked God “whom l serve from my forefathers with pure conscience” (2 Tim1:3). That’s why towards the end of his life, he penned triumphantly, “l have fought a good fight, l have finished my course, l have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8).  

In the sight of God and man, the apostle Paul’s conscience testified that he had acquitted himself excellently. In his answer to his detractors before Felix, the Roman governor, he stated:

“But this l confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship l the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:  

“And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, “ And herein do l exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence [blameless] toward God, and forward men (Acts 24:14–16).  

That ought to be our goal as believers. We are called to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4: 23 – 24) By this, we are to “approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Php 1:10– 1). Amen!