Our Life with God, Lesson 4: Living with a Clean Conscience before God

splashCorresponding to this [God saving Noah and his family through the water], baptism now saves you, not by removing dirt from the flesh, but by the appeal of a clear conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 3:21


Is a Clean Conscience Possible before God?

The Christian’s way of life isn’t another religious philosophy to help us understand our place in the world.  The Christian faith is not confined to being a religious code of ethics telling us how to live our life on earth.  It’s living a baptismal life, which is living with a clean conscience before God!

Acts 23:1: Looking straight at the Sanhedrin, Paul began, “Brothers, I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God to this day.”

2 Timothy 1:3: I [the Apostle Paul] am thankful to God—whom I serve with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did.

  • Is it more than a theoretical reality to live with a clean conscience before God?


The Problem

Romans 3:20: No one will be righteous in God’s sight by the works of the Law, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

God’s Law does enlighten our conscience part of the way—it diagnoses our spiritual impurity.  God’s Law lets you know you are sick—but it doesn’t provide the medicine you need.


The Solution for a Clean Conscience

Hebrews 9:14:

If the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled sanctify them, so they are outwardly clean, how much more will the blood of the Messiah… cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 10:19-22:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way he has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

  • Hebrews 10:22 describes baptism as a washing and sprinkling (see also 1 Peter 3:21, Titus 3:5). Through baptism, what is our status before God?


  • Today, where do we receive “the blood of the Messiah,” which “cleanses our consciences from dead works to serve the living God”?


Luke 22:20: In the same way, [Jesus] also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood…”


Reality versus Perception

God gives us a clean conscience.  However, our conscience may not accurately testify to this reality.  We may think something is right when it is not.  We may feel guilty about something that is not sinful or over a sin long-forgiven.

Titus 1:15: To the pure, everything is pure, but nothing is clean to those who are corrupt and unbelieving.

  • Why is everything pure to the pure? Where does this purity originate?


  • Why is nothing clean to the unbeliever? What ruins all the good works he does before God?


In God’s forgiveness, we do have a clean conscience before God.  If you feel guilty over a past sin, go to pastor for private confession.  You then can hear God’s forgiveness spoken in your ears.

  • Matthew 16:19: [Jesus speaking to Peter,] “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven.”
  • John 20:23: [Jesus speaking to His Apostles,] “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”


Getting a Well-Formed Conscience

Our conscience, however, does not provide a foolproof standard by which we can properly assess ourselves and others.  It too suffers corruption from our fall into sin.  Thus, the education and formation of our conscience becomes a lifelong task.

  • Matthew 28:20: [Jesus speaking to the Eleven, His Apostles,] “Disciple all the Gentiles by baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all I have commanded you…”
  • 1 Timothy 1:5: The aim of our [the Apostle Paul and Pastor Timothy] instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and a sincere faith.
  • Psalm 119:105: [God’s] word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
  • How does God shape and form our conscience?


  • From the verses above, what two things does God use to shape our conscience?


4, Church and Scripture


God gave us our conscience so we would know where we stand in relation to Him.  He designed our conscience so we could hear His Word, be taught His Word in His Church, and know His will for us.  The conscience only works properly when it has been cleansed from the stain of sin (baptized into…) and knows what God wants for us (teaching them…).


How Does Someone with a Well-Formed Conscience Live?

Matthew 7:12: Whatever you want others to do for you, do the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.

Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Tobit 4:15: Do not do to anyone what you would not want someone to do to you.

  • How does the well-formed conscience treat others?


1 Corinthians 8:12: When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak consciences [in Corinth, this was by eating meat sacrificed to idols], you are sinning against Christ.

Romans 14:21: It is better to avoid eating meat, drinking wine, or doing anything else that makes your brother stumble.

  • What does someone with a well-formed conscience choose how to use his freedom in Christ?


Through faith in Christ, we receive a good conscience.  That’s why we know that God the Father is as pleased with us as He is with Jesus, His Son, because we are united with Him.  It’s true that we are guilty of rebellion against God and have been sentenced to death by Him for our rebellion.  Yet, by His grace and mercy, He has pardoned us and has given us the gift of eternal life.

  • Romans 8:1: Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus

We no longer need to fear God’s disapproval and displeasure.  Our conscience works properly when it is well-formed by the “all” Jesus gave His pastors to teach in His Church.  Then we hear that God has declared and made us righteous, which makes the demands of the Law do what God wants them to do.  For the Law is not meant to show us how to gain God’s approval.  If that were true, then why did Jesus have to become human to save us?  No, the Law it is meant to diagnose our spiritual state before God and also show Christians what behavior is pleasing to God.

The key to life in the presence of God the Father is a good conscience that comes from the Holy Spirit by convicting us of sin and assuring us of salvation.  This God brings to us and speaks to us through His Church.  In His Church, He teaches us the “all” that He gave to His Apostles (Matthew 28:20) so we may have a clean conscience (1 Timothy 1:5).  That, in turn, leads to enlightenment by the Spirit, so we learn to see ourselves and others as God does.

A good conscience colors and shapes our whole experience of life.  By it, we become transparent to the light of the Lord and enlightened by His presence.


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