5/3 Understanding what is the Conscience NOT?

In our previous post, we laid out the definition of the Conscience and we were left with the question of how reliable is this guide.  To help us see the heart of the question, we need to separate out what the Conscience is NOT.


1.  Conscience is not the belief systems we hold to with our mind. 

I might believe that Australian beer is better than the USA versions but this is not my conscience telling me this ‘fact’.  In fact, I may believe many things that I regard as ‘facts’ in my world that are not true at all.

2.  Our conscience is also different to our “feelings that something is wrong”. 

Often our  feelings are conditioned by our self-talk, our experiences as well as our society, culture and religion.  Seeing a big spider and feeling that the spider is wrong, harmful or might bite me is not the conscience.  If insecurity rocks my world and I suspect that something is wrong, that’s different from my inbuilt sense of right and wrong that is a gift from the Creator.

3.  Neither is the conscience that disturbed, uncomfortable emotional reaction you get when sudden change, or insecurity comes. 

These may be triggers for emotional insecurity or fears about my world changing but not necessarily triggered by my conscience at all.

4.  Neither is the Conscience validating religious practice.

Some people believe in strict Sunday observance.  They become offended when sports or games are played on Sunday.  In John Calvin’s day, he encouraged his congregation to enjoy “the Lord’s day” with social outings and sports.

In contrast, other Protestant and Catholic groups bitterly opposed playing games and would not allow their people to do so.

5. Conscience is not what we know as a gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. 

This inner knowing that we know something that comes from the Lord is different than our conscience talking to us.  In fact, when we have that ‘knowing that we know’ discernment, it is very, very important that we ‘unhook’ the Conscience from its quick sense of right and wrong.  This is so important to learn to do that we will talk more about the process a later post.

6.  Conscience is not accepting good techniques over bad techniques.

Knowing how to climb a ladder safely is not a matter of conscience as it is good sense, a logical understanding of consequences if we fall.

7.  The Conscience is not our true ‘being’, the real you that needs obedience. 

It is part of a network that functions as a ‘fallback’ position to keep us from doing harm to others but it is not the infallible judge of your life.

8.  Conscience is also different from our personal opinions or even judgements we make  about others. 

Most of this ‘judgementalism’ is based on my view of what others ‘should’ be doing or ‘have to do’ to be acceptable to me.  These views are often biased and filled with personal opinions rather than the God-given sense of right and wrong.

9.  Perhaps one of the most bizarre explanations about our Conscience comes from a New Ager who wrote:

 ‘Our consciousness comes from the energy of the Milky way Galaxy…. the central part of the galaxy emits energy that powers the sun, all life on the planet and is the source of our conscious awareness. It is the ‘living waters’ or the electrical charge that powers the heart, body and brain.’  (Date and source unknown)


So if the above list is NOT our conscience, then what is our conscience and how did we come to have the conscience we have?  Join us as we continue in our next post to explore just what is the conscience that can be a gift or a big bully in people’s lives.

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author



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