1 Timothy 1:3-7
God gave mankind the capacity to discern right from wrong. For each person, this inner compass—known as a conscience—is programmed with a distinct belief set and therefore functions differently from everyone else’s. From the moment we begin processing instructions and warnings, our conscience is developing a code of conduct by which we live.
Whether the authority figures in your life offered sound life principles and fair consequences or provided little guidance of real value, your conscience collected the data. As children grow to adulthood, they pay attention to the words and actions of others. Both positive and negative results are added to the data. People who disappoint us teach just as much as those who impress. The programming continues throughout life, so every situation we encounter has the capacity to affect our decisions and actions.
The conscience is a flexible tool; it can absorb new data and adjust a person’s values and perspective. That’s good news for those who begin with poor programming but find valuable biblical guidance later on. Yet flexibility is potentially bad news for those who expose themselves repeatedly to falsehood and vain philosophies. If they ignore wisdom and truth, they will assimilate the deceptive viewpoints of modern culture.
The conscience itself isn’t a wholly reliable resource, but it’s a tool of the One who is completely trustworthy. The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with our inborn moral compass, giving direction when the conscience blares a warning and interpreting God’s Word when a course correction is needed.