A good conscience is a great friend. It helps in prosperity and in adversity. It strengthens in life and comforts in death. And in Acts 24, Paul knew that he was facing death. In verse 15 he preaches the resurrection and final judgment of all. And it’s in that context that he declares his clear conscience. In other words, he has his eye on the last court he shall ever stand in, and he speaks of this as a “hope.” He looks forward to this. He can think on this with pleasure; all because he knows he has a clear conscience.

Help to the other side
What a joy to have such a conscience, a conscience that can look forward to the resurrection and final judgment with hope. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Mr Honest arranged for Good-conscience to meet him at the Jordan to help him over to “the other side.” We hope we will be able to do the same when we close our eyes for the last time. As one of the Puritans said: “There is no pillow so soft as a good conscience.” A good conscience can sleep in thunder.

Throughout his administration, Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire, especially during the scarring years of the Civil War. And though he knew he would make errors of office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. So strong was this resolve that he once said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reigns of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”

Mr Recorder
And what a terrible experience to lack this! In The Holy War John Bunyan named conscience “Mr Recorder,” and portrayed his role and impact vividly: “Mr Recorder was a man well-read in the laws of his king and also a man of courage and faithfulness to speak truth at every occasion. He could make the whole town of Mansoul shake with his voice.” That’s why some criminals today will confess to crimes they are not accused of, because being punished by men can be better than being tormented by conscience.

To be living with an accusing conscience is misery enough, but to die with conscience witnessing against us, is even worse. And death does not silence it either. Jesus called it “the worm that never dies.” Hell turns up the volume of conscience and stirs it into relentless torment and trouble. Author George Crabbe wrote: “Oh, Conscience! Conscience! man’s most faithful friend, Him canst thou comfort, ease, relieve, defend; But if he will thy friendly checks forego, Thou art, oh! woe for me, his deadliest foe!”

Mr Reformation

As we commemorate the Reformation, we remind ourselves that the Reformation revolution was powered by Bible-bound human consciences. Again and again Luther was close to compromising with church authorities, but God’s inner voice strengthened him to stand with God. The testimony of a good conscience enabled him to stand firm, even if the whole church was against him: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.”

May God bless us with similar strong and clear consciences that will not only change our inner world, but through us will change the world we live in as well.

1. The world-transforming power of a good conscience
2. A good conscience is an educated conscience
3. A good conscience is an exercised conscience
4. A good conscience is an encouraging conscience