The longer you do something, the easier it becomes to forget the original reason why you started doing it in the first place.
This can happen to us with Christianity. The longer you’ve been in church, the easier it becomes to forget why you decided to do this in the first place. Eventually, habit can replace heart, self can take the place of sacrifice, and convictions can devolve into mere principles. In time, we develop a seared conscience.
I’ve seen this erosion begin to take place in my own life. I remember as a young Christian staring out the window while at work, wishing and wanting to spend every waking hour in Bible studies helping others to get to know God and have their lives changed radically like mine did.
This passion led me to jumping at the opportunity to lead in God’s Kingdom. However, as life and responsibilities have grown more than a decade and a half later, I’ve seen my passion for God giving way to habits for church. I’ve needed the help of friends to awaken my conscience from a state of religiosity. I was losing my way and needed to remember my “why.”
The church in Ephesus fought this similar battle. They were commended for a number of great qualities, but they had lost their love and heart for God. They needed to remember their “why” and restore their passion for God.
The church in Ephesus
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Ephesus. “These are the words of the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks and moves among the golden lampstands:  “I know your deeds, your tireless labor, and your patient endurance.
I know you do not tolerate those who do evil. Furthermore, you have diligently tested those who claim to be emissaries, and you have found that they are not true witnesses. You have correctly found them to be false.  I know you are patiently enduring and holding firm on behalf of My name. You have not become faintRevelation 2:1-3 Voice
The church in Ephesus was known for some great attributes:
- Their deeds and tireless labor.
- They were commended for holding on in the face of difficulty. They endured patiently.
“However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love.  Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It’s time to rethink and change your ways; go back to how you first acted. However, if you do not return, I will come quickly and personally remove your lampstand from its place.Revelation 2:4-5 Voice
The challenge that the church in Ephesus faced was that at some point they had lost their love for God and the Kingdom. God told them they needed to do two things:
- Go back to how they first acted
Do you remember why you do what you do? Why you go to church? Why you became a Christian?
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.1 Timothy 1:5 NIV
Restoring our love requires three things: a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Of those three things, the easiest for me to ignore is the importance of having a good conscience.
Having a good conscience will revive your faith and renew the purity of your heart.
Before we can discuss how the Bible teaches us to restore our conscience, we must first identify the state of our conscience.
A religious conscience
You planted them, and they have taken root. They have grown and produced fruit. You are ever on their lips, but far from their conscience.Jeremiah 12:2 CSB
For our purposes, we will define religiosity as having God on our lips, but not on our conscience. By outward action you can play the part of Christianity but inside is a different story. A religious conscience makes you only concerned with how you appear in the eyes of others in the church, but have no idea or care about God. Your conscience is not sensitive to God.
A silenced conscience
…Some have tried to silence their consciences, wrecking their lives and ruining their faiths.1 Timothy 1:19 Voice
Oftentimes we try to quiet our conscience. We get tired of being burdened by it. We get tired of caring, worrying, and feeling. According to this verse, the result is that our lives are wrecked and our faith is shot.
Without faith, we can’t love God (Galatians 5:6). It’s easy to blame the challenges in our lives on circumstances or on others, but how often do we consider the state of our conscience for where our lives are at?
A corrupted 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.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.Titus 1:15-16 NIV
To “corrupt” is to taint the purity of something. When it comes to our conscience this means we think there’s an acceptable amount of compromise. I’ve seen myself do this a number of times. I change the definition of what sin is from what the Bible says so that I can justify not needing to talk about it and continue to do it.
This leads to having a corrupted and compromised conscience that no longer sees things clearly. The result is a state of confusion: your heart carries around the burden and guilt of a violated conscience, but your mind feels justified and innocent and therefore you continue to stay living in that condition.
A seared conscience
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.1 Timothy 4:1-3 NIV
A seared conscience is one that is completely dead. It’s calloused over so that we cannot feel anything. When our conscience is seared, our lives become hypocritical. Rather than making Christianity attractive we make it unappealing.
When your conscience is seared, you can’t inspire others. All you do is forbid and order people to do things. With other Christians, with your kids, or with your spouse, do you inspire or can you only forbid and order?
 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.Ephesians 4:18-19 NIV
When you no longer have a sensitive conscience you live for sensuality. You become distant from God and replace love with lust. You no longer love people, but love a feeling. Pharisees replaced their love for people with a love for self and feeling good. They loved being important, respected, and honored (Luke 20:46).
To recognize this, you must look beyond the actions of what you do to the motives. Do you do what you do to impact the lives of others or do you do it to soak up the attention of “being a good person?”
How do I revive my conscience?
Remove the stains on your conscience
Beware that your sins don’t overtake you and the scars of your own conscience become the ropes that tie you up.Proverbs 5:22 TPT
Sometimes we fall into the trap thinking that time will heal all wounds. Although in some cases this is true, it is not with our conscience.
No amount of time passed will clear your conscience. You can bury it, silence, it, and sear your conscience, but you can’t clear it simply by letting time pass. Those scars remain unless you learn to remove the stain.
…Forgive the full extent of my rebellious ways, and erase this deep stain on my conscience.Psalm 51:1 TPT
Another trap we can fall into is thinking that if we do enough good we can outweigh the bad or guilt in our lives. This is simply not true. You can’t remove guilt by overcoming it with doing good.
God can erase the deep stains on our conscience. He can do this when we begin to be honest and transparent about what has been burdening our conscience. Then, we have to let the Bible guide us back to awareness.
Let God speak through the Bible to tell you what you should have a conscience about, even if you no longer feel bad about certain areas of your life (1 Corinthians 4:4).
Resensitize your conscience
…for these two prophets pricked the conscience of all the people on earth, made it impossible for them to enjoy their sins.Revelation 11:7 MSG
You cannot clear your conscience on your own (Jeremiah 17:9). It takes sitting down with friends to resensitize your conscience.
We need friends who will ask questions to draw out our hearts and motives to help us identify how our conscience has been damaged. We need friends whose responses to our sins help us feel the appropriate attitude towards the sins in our lives.
They said to him, “This is your chance! The LORD has told you that he would put your enemy in your power and you could do to him whatever you wanted to.” David crept over and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe without Saul’s knowing it.  But then David’s conscience began to hurt.1 Samuel 24:4-5 GNT
When we allow friends through the Bible to help us re-sensitize our conscience we begin to feel again. To have a conscience that is hurt is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing. This means our conscience is sensitive again.
Restore your “why”
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 3:21 NASB
Remembering our why is remembering Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.
Is your conscience sensitive to the cross? Do you have gratitude, inspiration, and passion when you think about the cross?
This consciousness of the cross is not supposed to be just at baptism, but throughout our lives as disciples. It is supposed to be the generating force behind why we love, why we sacrifice, why we serve, and why we change lives (2 Corinthians 5:14).
I praise the LORD, because he guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me.  I am always aware of the LORD’s presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me.  And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure.Psalm 16:7-9 GNT
When we remove the stains, re-sensitize our conscience, and remember our why, we restore the intimacy and closeness in our relationship with God. We enter and sense his presence again – a sacred place where we have gratitude, joy, and security.