The conscience is a monitoring mechanism which God has given to man to approve right conduct and to protest against what is wrong. When Adam and Eve sinned, their consciences condemned them and they knew they were naked.

Like all other parts of man's nature, the conscience was affected by the entrance of sin so that it is not always completely reliable. The old maxim "Let your conscience be your guide" is not an invariable rule. However, even in the most depraved, the conscience still flashes its red and green signals.

At the time of conversion a person's conscience is purged from dead works by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14). This means that he no longer depends on his own works to give him a favorable standing before God. His heart is sprinkled from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22) because he knows that the sin question has been settled once for all by the work of Christ. Conscience does not condemn him any more as far as the guilt and condemnation of sin are concerned.

Henceforth the believer desires to have a conscience void of offense toward God and man (Acts 24:16). He desires to have a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:19; Hebrews 13:18; 1 Peter 3:16). And he desires to have a pure conscience (1 Timothy 3:9).

The believer's conscience needs to be educated by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. In this way he develops an increasing sensitivity toward questionable areas of Christian conduct.

Believers who are excessively scrupulous over matters that are not right or wrong in themselves have a weak conscience. If they go ahead and do something that their conscience condemns, they sin (Romans 14:23) and defile their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7).

The conscience is something like an elastic band. The more it is stretched, the more it loses its elasticity. Also the conscience can be stifled. A man can so rationalize his wrong behavior that he can make the conscience say anything he wants it to say.

Unbelievers can have a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2), as if cauterized by a hot iron. By the continual rejection of the voice of conscience, they finally reach the stage where they are past feelings. It no longer hurts them to sin (Ephesians 4:19).

God holds men responsible for what they do with their consciences. No divinely-given faculty can be abused with impunity.