P1020582Francis Bacon said, ” A good conscience is a continual feast,” but this sumptuous feast isn’t one everyone eats at.

What is a conscience?

Conscience is our inner voice that tells us what is right and wrong. Conscience is a kind of knowing of self, of knowing what we believe and value, of knowing the voice of right and wrong within.

It may be helpful to note that there are three types of conscience.

First is the silenced conscience. This is a conscience that has been ignored so much that it no longer has a voice, it is silenced. We may speak of this as the deadened conscience, a hardened heart, a conscience with no voice left.

How do we know if we have silenced our conscience?

We know our conscience is silenced if we can do wrong things and feel no guilt, if we are numb to guilt, even when we know we have done wrong.

I had two bowls of ice cream last night. My conscience spoke to me about this. It said, “You should have had three.”

When it comes to eating, my conscience is broken.

If I say mean things to people and it doesnt bother me, my conscience might be hard. If I steal and I dont feel wrong, if I lie and it feels normal, if I have sex with other people’s spouses and I dont feel its wrong, if I dont serve other people and have no conviction over that, if I dont feel guilty for not caring — then perhaps I have knifed and silenced my conscience.

The second kind of conscience is the loud mouth conscience, the over-active conscience.

We have a loud, talkative, over active conscience, if it is always telling us we are doing wrong, even when we are not. “You can’t eat that food. You can’t have a friendship with that person. You can’t see that movie. You can’t take a vacation.”

If we see life as full of wrong choices to avoid, we may have a permanently guilty conscience, a kind of floating guilt, not that we have done wrong, but that we are wrong.

If we have a lot of rules for living, if we are always telling people they are doing the wrong thing, if we never feel good enough, perhaps we have an over-active conscience.

This may have come from our parents, if they were too strict, and we were made hyper-sensitive to right and wrong. It may have come to us from shame, from not feeling forgiven, then we may default to a guilty, shame-based identity.

What can we do with our too silent or our too loud conscience, our conscience that doesn’t speak to us enough, or that speaks to us too much?

We can recalibrate our conscience. Think of the touch-screen phone. Our phones with touch screens must be calibrated to work correctly. To accurately calibrate the screen, we go through the steps of touching center, top right, top left and so on until the surface is accurate to the touch.

So how do we recalibrate the conscience?

First, we can calibrate our conscience by exposing it to the truth. This is done by reading truth, by reading the scripture, by reading wise books, by resetting our brains with wisdom, knowledge, reality, as seen through the lens of written truth. What is right, this is wrong — these are not new concepts, and we will all do well to build our sense of morality with the wisdom of the ages.

Secondly, we can put ourselves up close to wise people. We can open our thoughts to the wise, and ask them if they think what we are feeling guilty about is right or wrong. What is right? What would you do?

This will lead to the development of the third kind of conscience, the healthy, accurate conscience.

This is the conscience that knows right and wrong, convicts of wrong at the right time, and gives permission to do right. It says “guilty” when we are guilty; it says “pure and free,” when we have done nothing wrong.

The healthy conscience can detect bad advice

This week a conversation with someone about sex. It is so healthy, to talk about sex, especially with the younger generation. Someone told another the person I was talking to, ” I had sex with my boyfriend, I don’t see anything wrong with this. I think the Christians have made too big of a deal about this.”

The person I was talking to said, “I don’t agree with what my friend said. I still want to wait until I am married to have sex.”

I said, “We’ll, then honor your conscience, honor your own soul. Know what you soul needs. I actually don’t think it is wise, to fragment your soul, by bonding it sexually with multiple partners. I think that it is wise for you to wait for sex until you make your marriage vows to one person.”

That is what the wise books have always indicated is wise, and I think that a healthy conscience is in tune with a morality that is larger than ourselves.

We didn’t make the conscience up, and we don’t make morality up, it is a gift, something God put in us. I think that one of the really amazing experiences of life is to life is the alignment our conscience and our behavior with God.

All of us always do well to ask: God, what do you want me to do? And what do you want me to stop doing?

We fragile, shifting humans, we want many things! But who we are, and what we will be, and what we say is right or wrong, this is best put before God, because a healthy conscience is the continual feast put on by the master chef of the whole universe.

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