Lesson 6: Listen to Your Conscience
Have you noticed that you get an uneasy feeling down inside of you when you say or do something wrong? This is your conscience.
Your conscience is like a little voice inside of you that tells you when you are right and when you are wrong. You must learn to listen to your conscience because this is one way God speaks to you.
When we are right with God and right with others, our conscience will tell us that we are right. We will have a clear conscience. To be a happy Christian, we must have a clear conscience.
When we sin against God or sin against another person, our conscience will tell us that we are wrong. We will have a guilty conscience.
If we want to get rid of our guilty conscience and have a clear conscience again, we must make things right with God and with the people we have sinned against. When we do this, once again we have a clear conscience and we can be a happy Christian.
How to make things right with God
To make things right with God, we must confess our sins to Him. The Bible says,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
What does this verse say? It says that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us and cleanse us. God forgives our sins because He sees the blood of His Son which was shed for them. Once again we are clean in God’s sight and we have a clear conscience.
To have a clear conscience, we must make things right with God.
How to make things right with other people
To have a clear conscience, we must not only make things right with God, but we must also make things right with the people whom we have wronged in any way.
When we hurt someone by something we say or do, this is called an offence. When someone has an offence against us, it means that we have wronged them in some way.
If we want to have a clear conscience we must make things right with those we have offended. We must allow God to search our heart and show us the offences or wrong things we have done to other people. Here are some questions for you to consider:
Have you lied to someone?
Have you ever stolen from someone?
Have you talked back to your parents or disobeyed them?
Have you hurt someone by something you said?
Have you been mean to others in your family—your brother or sister?
Have you acted ugly or disrespectful toward your teacher at school?
Let us consider the steps we must take to make things right with others:
Make a list of the wrong things you have done.
Begin making a list of the wrong things you have done and the people you have hurt or offended. Write down every offence you can think of. Do not be in a hurry. Some things will come to your mind quickly. It may take time to think of other offences. When you have completed your list, it may look like the picture here.
Go to the person and apologize.
Once the Lord has shown you that you need to apologize to someone, do it promptly. The best way to apologize is to go to the person and speak to him or her alone. Do not talk to other people about it. Go directly to the person and go at a time when you can speak to him or her alone.
When we apologize to someone, we should say what we did wrong and ask the other person to forgive us. We should not try to blame someone else. Many times when a person apologizes to someone, he does it in a wrong way. If you apologize in the wrong way, the offence is not cleared up and it will still be on your conscience.
Wrong ways to apologize:
Many people do not know how to apologize. Here are some examples of wrong ways to apologize:
“If I did anything wrong, I’m sorry.” This apology is not a correct one because you have not really admitted that you did anything wrong. You have not said what your offence was or asked for forgiveness.
“I was wrong, but you were wrong too.”This is wrong because you are trying to excuse yourself. You must take full responsibility for what you did, regardless of what the other person did.
“I’m sorry I lost my temper, but you made me do it.” This is wrong because you are blaming the other person for what you did.
The right way to apologize:
We have just looked at some wrong ways to apologize. Now let us learn the right way to apologize. To apologize correctly, you should:
1. Say what you did wrong.
2. Not blame anybody else.
3. Ask the person to forgive you and wait for his answer.
Here is an example of the right way to apologize:
“Brian, I talked ugly to you the other day. Will you forgive me?” This is the right way to apologize.
Make things right with the other person.
If we have stolen from someone, we must make things right with him. It is not enough to say, “I am sorry that I stole from you. Please forgive me.” We must also return what we have stolen or pay for it.
If you stole money, pay it back. If you are not able to do this immediately, make arrangements to pay a certain amount each week until it is paid back. Be sure to keep your word and do what you promised to do.
Don’t make excuses.
Sometimes we know what we should do, but we make excuses for not doing it. It is wrong to allow an excuse to keep you from apologizing to someone when you know you should do it. Here are some common excuses:
“I’ll do something special for that person to make up for my offence.”
You cannot say, “I know I talked ugly to my mother, so I’ll help with the dishes tonight to make up for it.” This will not clear up your offence. If you talked ugly to your mother, you need to go to your mother and ask her to forgive you. Then, if you want to do something special for her, that is fine.
“I’ll apologize later.”
Putting things off is a bad idea. Jesus said that we should go quickly to those we have wronged and ask for forgiveness.
“I was wrong but the other person was wrong too.”
That may be true, but you are still responsible for what you did that was wrong. The other person may have been more in the wrong than you were, but you are still responsible for your part. When you apologize for your part, perhaps the other person will apologize for his part. Even if he does not, you have done what was right for you to do.
To be happy you need to have a clear conscience
To be a happy Christian, you must have a clear conscience. You must know in your heart that you are right with God and right with other people. The Apostle Paul said, “This is the reason I do my best to always have a clear conscience toward God and toward people.” (Acts 24:16)
In this verse, Paul said that he always tried to have a clear conscience toward God and toward other people. We should do this also.
If your conscience tells you that you are wrong, listen to your conscience! Make things right with God by confessing your sins to Him. Make things right with other people by apologizing and asking for forgiveness. No one should be able to say to you, “You did me wrong and you never apologized or tried to make things right with me.”
This picture illustrates the steps to a clear conscience: