Troublesome Topic: The Conscience Does Not Argue

Here I present some fictitious discussions intended to illustrate the role of the conscience and the will.

When an Idea enters my head:

CONSCIENCE:          Wait. That would be wrong.

WILL:                         But, but, I really want to do it.

CONSCIENCE:          It’s wrong. 

WILL:                         Maybe it’s OK sometimes.

CONSCIENCE:          It’s wrong.

WILL:                         Oh, I wish I could do what I want without those crazy things called consequences.

SATAN:                      What does the conscience know anyhow? Maybe the conscience gets it wrong sometimes.

WILL:                         I really want to do it.

SATAN:                      Forget about the crazy conscience and do it.

Notice that the conscience and will are having a civil argument. The will does not slam or bad-mouth the conscience. The will just knows that it really wants to do something and it wishes it had the freedom to do it without any resistance from the conscience. But the will does not have bad feelings toward the conscience. When you hear a voice bad-mouthing the conscience it is Satan. He has entered the conversation to make sure you do what he wants you to do, which must involve an ignoring or rejecting of the conscience.

Here are a few examples of possible arguments between Satan and our conscience when we are tempted to do something:

SATAN:                      Hey, how about this, that would be cool.

CONSCIENCE:          No, that’s not right.

SATAN:                      It’s not that bad.

CONSCIENCE:          No, it’s just not right.

SATAN:                      Hey, everyone is doing it, so no one will notice one more.

CONSCIENCE:          Nope. It’s not right.

SATAN:                      But look at what it could do for you.

CONSCIENCE:          No

SATAN:                      You don’t really want to say no, that’s too much sacrifice.  Com’on, live a little.

CONSCIENCE:          (Silence.)

The conscience goes silent when asked a question other than if something is right or wrong. It knows if something is right or wrong based on its foundation. But it does not analyze other things, such as whether or not obedience is “too much sacrifice.” Satan wants our minds to analyze something so we can figure out a way to do it anyway and still feel good about it.

When we do something we shouldn’t:

CONSCIENCE:   Wait a minute, that wasn’t right.

SATAN:               What are you talking about? That’s no big deal.

CONSCIENCE:               It’s not right.

SATAN:               Look at that guy over there.  He claims to be something, but wow, look at all the stuff he does. Hey, you’re actually doing pretty well. So don’t sweat that little stuff.

CONSCIENCE:   It’s still not right.

SATAN:              You could actually do worse things than that and still be OK.

CONSCIENCE:   It’ not right.

SATAN:               If God is so picky about even little things like that, then who wants to follow him anyway?

CONSCIENCE:               (silence)

The conscience does not do the work of the will.  When the “conversation” is turned to the point of decision, it is the will that must decide; the conscience has already made its ruling. The ruling of the conscience is only about something being right or wrong; it does not make determinations about why God does or does not do certain things, or how the world works, just about right and wrong.

A seared conscience comes from the will overriding the conscience repeatedly. The voice of conscience grows weaker until it is so muffled it cannot be heard.

Here is an example of Satan beating up on us:

We do something we shouldn’t:

CONSCIENCE:          Wait a minute, that’s not right.

SATAN:                      Ya, you blew it this time.

CONSCIENCE:                      (silence)

SATAN:                      You always get it wrong.  You’ll never be able to do anything right.

CONSCIENCE:                      (silence)

SATAN:                      How can you call yourself a Christian and act like that?

CONSCIENCE:                      (silence)

SATAN:                      You should stop calling yourself a Christian because you’re not. You’re just a big bad sinner, and you always will be.

Where is the conscience this time?

It has made its ruling about the act, it has fulfilled its role. The conscience does not judge the value of the person, but the morality of the act. That is why the conscience does not argue with Satan when he begins to make such attacks on our value or potential.

Satan tries to use the conscience as a presumed judge of value—he has twisted the role of conscience making it an emotional club with which he can bludgeon us.

Peter, after he denied Jesus 3 times (Mt 26:69-75), could have killed himself like Judas did. Satan was using Peter’s conscience to tell him he had no value. But that is not the role or purpose of the conscience.

After it has been determined that a wrong was committed, the will must decide where to go from there. If a guilty conscience can produce debilitating emotions, which in turn produce paralysis, Satan has the decision he wanted—we have decided by doing nothing. If we do nothing, forgiveness, restitution, and reconciliation will never come.

The next lesson is The Holy Spirit Says “Come”