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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Is Your Conscience Cloudy or Clear:

How important is a good conscience?  The words of First Timothy 1:5 remind us that having a good conscience is high on God’s priority list for every Christian, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”  The Greek word translated “purpose” in the New King James Version (“end” in the King James Version and “goal” in the New International Version”) means “a definite point or goal; the point aimed at” (Strong’s Concordance).  The definite goal and point Paul is aiming at is to get Timothy and other Christians to see the need for love, a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.  There were all kinds of external threats to the purity and health of the church at first century Ephesus.  But before Paul gets to any of the things going on around Christians at Ephesus, he addresses the issues that should be going on inside them!  The “conscience” seems to be especially important to the apostle Paul.  He used the word “conscience” twenty-one times in his letters.  Twice in the opening chapter of 1st Timothy, Paul mentions “a good conscience” as a part of the spiritual equipment needed by every gospel preacher and child of God (vv. 1, 19).  The conscience can be “seared” and it can be so sinned against, that it becomes “defiled” (1 Timothy 4: 2; Titus 1: 15).  H. L. Meneken defined conscience as “the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”  A little girl defined it as follows:  “Something that makes you tell your mother before your brother or sister does.” 

In January, 1697, on a fast day called to remember the Salem witch trials, Samuel Sewall slipped a note to his preacher, Samuel Willard, at Boston’s Old South Meeting House.  Sewall, one of the seven judges who had sentenced twenty people to death in Salem five years earlier, stood silent before the congregation as Willard read:  “Samuel Sewell, sensible of the reiterating strokes of God upon himself and his family. . . desires to take the blame and shame of it, asking pardon of men, and especially desiring prayers that God, who has an unlimited authority, would pardon that sin and his other sins. . .”  Sewell believed that eleven of his fourteen children had died as divine punishment for his involvement in the witch trials.  John Ellis Large said the most painful wound in the world is the stab of conscience, but Ben Franklin reminds us a good conscience is a continual Christmas.  Most importantly, the Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 10: 22 that a conscience can be evil, but also that the powerful blood of Christ will cleanse if we will obey the gospel (Hebrews 9: 22).  How is your conscience?  Cloudy or Clear?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ