When Paul was preparing to leave Ephesus to go to Macedonia, he told Timothy to remain behind so that he could straighten out some problems in the church in Ephesus. Some in the church at Ephesus were teaching that a return to the keeping of the Mosaic Law was important in salvation. There were also those who were keeping ongoing genealogical records or family records and were attaching some type of special spiritual privilege to those who were a part of certain family lines. Both of these teachings went directly against what the apostles had decided regarding the turning of the Gentiles to the Lord in Acts 15. Paul told Timothy to teach a return to love being the foundation of kingdom blessing rather than family privilege or legalistic righteousness. In this command that we read earlier found in 1 Timothy 1:5, we see something that I want to share tonight that keeps many Christians from experiencing the freedom and love God has for them.
The scripture tells us that agape love is a component of three things:
A pure heart is one in which all sin is forgiven – one in which the Lord rules absolutely so that all motives flow from the Holy Spirit. This type of heart is possible only under salvation and the Lordship of Jesus. A sincere faith is present when one has delivered their entire personality, the totality of their present situation and their future into the hands of the Lord through trust in God’s Word. This type of faith is possible only under salvation and the Lordship of Jesus. So, the person who has a pure heart and a sincere faith in God must be a believer because these characteristics are not possible under any other circumstances. But, there is one more component of love that I want to focus on and that is a good conscience.
Here is the biblical definition of a good conscience:
Conscience (syneídēsis) is an innate discernment, self-judging consciousness.
Let me give you another definition to help:
Conscience is a term that describes an aspect of a human being's self-awareness. It is part of a person's internal rational capacity and is not, as popular lore sometimes suggests, an audience room for the voice of God or of the devil. Conscience is a critical inner awareness that bears witness to the norms and values we recognize and apply. The complex of values with which conscience deals includes not only those we own, but the entire range of values to which we are exposed during life's journey. Consequently, there is always a sense of struggle in our reflective process. The witness of conscience makes its presence known by inducing mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate the values we recognize and apply. Conscience also provides a sense of pleasure when we reflect on conformity to our value system. Biblestudytools.com
One important factor to understand about conscience is that conscience is a product of influence. The Bible teaches us that in 1 Timothy 4:2:
Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars, whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron.
You know the internal struggle that often comes when God’s Word says something and you struggle to believe it? That’s the presence of a bad conscience. Not that you are bad but that your sense of right and wrong is arguing against the truth of the Word of God. Here’s the problem: You can be saved with a pure heart and a sincere faith in God and have your conscience defiled by bad teaching! Bad teaching can originate from others or experiences that creates beliefs about yourself that do not reflect the truth of God’s Word.
Let’s look at some scriptures about conscience:
To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. /// Titus 1:15 (NIV)
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. /// Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)
And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. /// 1 Peter 3:21 (NLT)
To fully experience all the peace and love God has for us as His children, we must have our consciences cleansed from bad teaching!
- 1 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV)
- 1 Timothy 4:2
- Titus 1:15 (NIV)
- Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)
- 1 Peter 3:21 (NLT)
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