How to avoid a dead conscience!


I have heard it said of a person ‘He has got absolutely no conscience about what he did.’ The implication was that the person committed some terrible sin and had no regrets or bad feelings about it at all.

Was the person’s conscience dead, or just ill-informed?

Can a conscience become better informed and therefore more sensitive to wrong behaviour? Is conscience a matter of one’s social experience and upbringing? There was a time in British history when slavery was accepted, and a well-placed family would have had no qualms at all about having slaves. Conscience might say something different to us today!

As we read and discover the will of God, our consciences become better informed. We become more sensitive about our behaviour and are quicker to try to put things right.

This week, reflect on the state of your conscience and whether it prompts you to do or avoid certain things.

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-5

v 2.  These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.

It is quite possible that a number of us have an element of our conscience that lacks feeling; it no longer shouts at us when we do something selfish or plain wrong. Does your conscience say anything to you when you park on a double yellow line and then say to yourself ‘But I’ll only be a couple of minutes.’? Or when you tell a little lie to cover a mistake you have made?

If you have ever read about leprosy sufferers, you might recall that the disease can leave toes devoid of feeling. When patients had to sleep on the floor mice could freely nibble at their toes and so they were given cats to guard their feet at night. If you have no feeling in your hands you might miss the fact that you have cut yourself with the kitchen knife, or burnt your hand on a really hot saucepan. You need nerves to sense pain and physical damage; and you need a lively conscience to warn you about wrongdoing.

Blatant hypocrisy or frequent lying can render our consciences unfeeling – we fail to recognise when our lives are out of step with God’s plan. The remedy is quite apparent; consistent truth-telling and learning to match our words and actions.

Sounds so easy doesn’t it, but we all know it isn’t. Two things impede progress towards the goal. There is an impulsive desire to be seen to be right, and also better than we really are. The whole notion of confessing our faults to one another, a trusted friend for example, is rarely a part of our religious tradition although in some Christian traditions it is accepted as right and appropriate. But this kind of openness with a friend is helpful in making our consciences more tender and alive when we are under pressure.

Monday 4th July Daily Notes from the Hub