God's Warning System

William C. Brownson

READ : 1 Timothy 1:18-20

I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, . . . so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. (vv. 18-19a)

Paul is instructing his young friend Timothy about the importance of “having faith and a good conscience.” That’s a happy combination, isn’t it? We trust in God through Christ, and by faith, receive the gift of God’s Spirit. The Spirit enlightens our conscience, enabling us more and more to discern God’s will for our lives. Conscience is the inner nudge of God in our spirits, prompting us toward faithfulness, warning us against evil. It’s like a faithful friend at our side, helping to keep us on track. We maintain a “good” conscience when we listen to and obey that inner voice.

If we violate conscience, dire results follow. Hardness sets in. The inner voice becomes more faint. We become trapped in evil ways. Then we’re in real trouble, like ships at sea, headed for a barrier reef. Paul says that “by rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith.” As Martin Luther once said, “to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

“So, dear Timothy,” Paul seems to say, “hold on to faith and to a clear conscience, and you will be a good servant of Jesus Christ.”


Lord, help us to keep a clear conscience and steer a straight course!