What Does It Mean To Live With a Clear Conscience?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Have you ever been sitting alone and suddenly realized that you don't really like who you are? Do you ever think "why did I do that?" after acting on a selfish impulse? Trust me, you are not alone.

It's not a popular message, but we are all sinful humans. We make mistakes, we make bad choices, and we often choose selfishly instead of putting the needs of others first.

But one thing that the Bible talks about is living with a clear conscience. And when I read verses that talk about that, sometimes I have a hard time with them. It can be difficult to see how exactly these verses work in my own life since sometimes I feel guilty when I haven't done anything wrong and sometimes I put more pressure on myself than is necessary. They can, when not interpreted correctly, make me feel like I just have to live by my feelings, and live to satisfy the false guilt in my life. Is that what those verses are advocating for?

No. Of course they aren't.

When these verses talk about a "clear conscience", they aren't talking about satisfying our self-made condemnation or our guilt over things that aren't bad. What they are talking about however, is extremely important.

Do you live your life with a clear conscience? Or do you find yourself feeling guilty and beaten down? Read more to find out what it means to live with a clear conscience and how it can benefit you.

Excuses We Make and Lies We Tell Ourselves

"It's okay that I am cutting this person off in traffic. They are making me late."

"It's not a big deal if I watch this movie, even if it does have a bad affect on me."

"It wasn't exactly a lie...I just left out part of the story. They'd be mad at me otherwise."

"It's okay that I am sharing details from Samantha's life with Tanya. Tanya won't tell anyone, so it's not really gossip."

"I'll tell Laura about Samantha's nasty divorce so she can pray for her...then it surely isn't gossip. I mean, when Samantha asked me not to tell anyone, she probably still wanted prayer."

Do any of those excuses sound familiar to you? Do you find yourself justifying actions that are sinful and selfish? I know I do! I am constantly trying to defend my actions to myself when I know they are wrong. I know that cutting people off in traffic is rude, is a terrible witness, and is not considering the other person's feelings. They could have just finished a twelve-hour shift and are so tired they can barely drive. They could have just been verbally abused by a spouse. Or maybe they just spilled their coffee on their work clothes. Either way, when I cut them off, I cause them more stress and frustration.

After these sorts of incidents happen, I feel little twitches of guilt, because I know that I wasn't living life the best I could have. I know in these moments that I still do a lot of things solely because they benefit me, without caring for the feelings of others. If Jesus were in the seat beside (and He might as well be), I would turn 50 shades of red and feel awful. This begs the question: Am I living life in a way that produces a clear conscience even in the little things?

The Little Things Are A Big Deal

I know that cutting someone off in traffic doesn't seem like a big deal. And I know that you may feel that this is an overly-simplified example. However,  the thing about living with a clear conscience is that we are called to live a life of goodness and holiness. And goodness and holiness come from the little things too.

When the Bible talks about living with a clear conscience, it calls us to examine our lives and see if we are living in a way that pleases God. Are we living our lives as the peculiar treasures we were called to be? Are we different than the rest of the world (and not just when we are being watched)? Basically, if Jesus popped into the room with you at any given moment, would you be ashamed? Would you be embarrassed? Or would He be pleased? If you are anything like me, you've got a lot of work to do- particularly in the "little things".

Strive to live life with a clear conscience- not just in the big things, but in the little things too.

Can They Find Real Fault?

 "I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law (Scripture) and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." (Acts 24:15-16, emphasis added)

When the apostle Paul was being tried in court for his faith and his testimony about Jesus, he made the statement above. He had been accused of causing riots and disturbances over his teachings about Jesus, but Paul was saying that he knew the accusations against him were false and therefore he had a clear conscience. He also knew that he needed to continue to conduct himself in a Christlike way, despite how frustrating these accusations were. He was choosing to live a godly life that would free him to live without worry or a guilty conscience.

How often, however, do we live our lives just toeing the line. How often do we choose to see how far we can go without "doing anything bad", instead of trying to live a life that is completely undeserving of accusation? How often do I justify "little" things like giving someone the cold shoulder because they were rude to me? How many times have I watched something on Netflix that messed me up physiologically or caused me to stumble, but justified it as "not that big of a deal".

But at the end of the day, I feel guilty about those things because I know that they are not good. They may be simple, but they still matter. I'm not killing, stealing, or cheating, but that's not the standard- Jesus is. And when Paul talked about living with a clear conscience, he meant changing the way we live so that there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty. It not only keeps us walking in Christ-likeness as an example for those around us, but it also brings a peace that we cannot know if we are always toeing the line or being selfish in the little things.

Paul knew that no one could accuse him of living a shameful life. He wasn't perfect, but he absolutely took conscious steps towards godly living at every turn. He knew they had nothing on him, he knew he was innocent, and he knew his life was pleasing to Jesus. And he had freedom and peace because of that!

No One Is Perfect

We can never be perfect on this side of Heaven. I know that. And we are going to find ourselves sinning sometimes. But as much as it depends on us and our daily, conscious choices, we are called to live a life that produces a clear conscience. So, if you and I know of areas in our lives where we are "toeing the line" or are clearly not pleasing to God, we are called to change those things. When we do, we are free to live with a clear conscience, a sound mind, and freedom from worry. How awesome does that sound?!


  1. "So, if you and I know of areas in our lives where we are "toeing the line" or are clearly not pleasing to God, we are called to change those things. When we do, we are free to live with a clear conscience, a sound mind, and freedom from worry" SOOOO GOOD! Thank you for this beautiful reminder! xoxo

  2. For me one of the big things was the fact that I had to apologize to someone I hurt. A few months ago I asked God to transform my heart and make me a better person and I felt the need to do this. I made so many excuses! I kept saying that they probably forgot or it wasn't going to do anything, but once I did it, they felt better and I felt such at peace! It was hard but it takes a lot of prayer!

  3. I love this thoughtful reminder. I especially like your question: "Are we living our lives as the peculiar treasures we were called to be?" I appreciate this reminder!

  4. So much truth here and I needed to read this today. Thanks for sharing and I'm passing it along to my followers!

  5. You're on point, the little things are a big deal.

  6. I love this! One of my biggest pet peeves is when people make excuses for their actions. Just take responsibility and own your actions and let's move on. The person feels better for clearing their conscious and the other person feels better because they don't feel as disrespected.

  7. Such a great reminder! We need to take responsibility for our actions and thoughts. Stop making excuses. One of the things tha really gets me is when people apologize for something and then they say why they were "forced" into doing whatever it was they did. I was taught very young that that is not an apology and that I always need to take responsibility for my wrong doings. This is also a heart issue. We need to go deep within and ask God to help change and soften our hearts. Thank you for this message! :)