THEN PAUL, gazing earnestly at the council (Sanhedrin), said, Brethren, I have lived before God, doing my duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day [as a citizen, a true and loyal Jew]. ~ Acts 23:1, AMP (the blue words are this blogger’s emphasis)
Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men. ~ Acts 24:16, AMP (the blue words are this blogger’s emphasis)
Because God wants us to become the children He created us to be, He gives us the Holy Bible to make sure that our journey through this world is on the path that leads to holiness and righteousness (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16). To leave no doubt about whether or not we are able to walk the path God prefers, our Father also gives us His Holy Spirit, who reveals and teaches us the deeper spiritual understandings and spiritual applications of the Word of God, which is His Divine Guideline (God’s moral standard), that confirms when we are doing our Father’s Perfect Will.
In fact, the Word of God makes it clear that only the Holy Spirit can quicken and illuminate the Scriptures for us, so we can understand and apply both the natural and spiritual Truths in them that pertain to the holy and righteous lifestyle we are to live each day. For this reason, our Daddy chooses His Holy Spirit to be the One to lead us into ALL Truth—Father God chooses His Holy Spirit to be our master teacher.
One way that the Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth is by influencing our conscience; of course, we know that before we can be convicted of our sins, we must have a natural conscience—a moral sense of right and wrong; a natural (inherent/innate) urge to choose right over wrong. Now, although God gives everyone a conscience, He only gives us (His children) His Holy Spirit, who lives on the inside of us and helps us to interpret everything that our conscience is communicating. In other words, for us (believers), our conscience must become God’s voice speaking in our soul, advising us about what is morally right and morally wrong, and serving notice the second we commit a moral wrong. Consequently, God’s Holy Spirit is the only One who can make this spiritual transformation happen.
So then once we become a Christian believer, become a follower of Jesus the Christ (become the Lord’s disciple), we simultaneously are prompted to make the life-changing choice of allowing the Holy Spirit to be the primary influencer of our conscience, and the only sanctifier of our whole body (outer self), soul (inner self; mind, heart, personality, individuality, etc.), and spirit (innermost self). However, when we do not heed the Holy Spirit’s prompting and, instead, choose not to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s total control of our life, we can end up having a weak conscience—one that easily can be swayed or influenced by other sources, because our conscience lacks spiritual knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:10); or we can end up having a defiled conscience—one that has been corrupted, despoiled by the sin(s) that we put up with, simply because we refuse to acknowledge what we are tolerating as sin(s) [cf. Titus 1:15]; or we can end up having an evil conscience—one that has mistaken wrong behavior for right conduct, because an evil conscience makes the line between what is morally right and what is morally wrong, indistinct (cf. Hebrews 10:22; see also Isaiah 5:20); and we eventually might end up with a seared conscience—one that no longer senses any moral wrongs, because a seared conscience is spiritually cauterized (insensible; no longer susceptible to moral influences); it is an unnatural conscience that especially is hardened against both the Gospel and God’s Law (cf. 1 Timothy 4:2).
Thus, in order to keep our conscience pure or good (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5), blameless (cf. Acts 24:16), and clear (cf. 2 Timothy 1:3), we must feed our minds with the Word of God. Then too, since the Holy Spirit’s ministry involves prompting us, leading us, and teaching us how to discern, in accordance with God’s moral standard, what is right from what is wrong, we willingly must let the Holy Spirit use the biblical information about God’s moral standard as the training material that educates our conscience about how to become sensitive and receptive to His voice, which is God’s voice.
For these reasons, there is no doubt that God also expects us to surrender (totally tune in) our conscience to the Holy Spirit’s voice, while He speaks into our quickened and illuminated conscience the accurate and proper morally good, blameless, and clear-conscience settings. Moreover, once we have yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control, He then leads us to respond appropriately to Him when He speaks into our heart for the purpose of testing whether our regulated conscience is spiritually discerning whether or not what our heart/spirit is receiving from the spirit world is God’s Divine Truth.
For the record, our heart/spirit is the center of all spiritual activities; therefore, our heart/spirit is the seat (the center of authority for) our soul’s mind, intellect, thoughts, rationale, determination, will, conscience, imaginations, and emotions; our heart/spirit is the innermost part of our whole being, which flows through our soul or inner self. This spiritual truth is why our unregenerate souls struggle with our born again and saved spirits, which have become spiritually holy, righteous, perfect, and sinless creatures.
Because the Word of God warns us to check every spirit-world source (including our own spirit, the Holy Spirit, and any evil spirit) against the Spirit of God, we then need to understand how crucial it is that the Holy Spirit frequently tests what kind of spirit that is trying to influence our new spirit/new heart (cf. 1 John 4:1), because it is our soul that makes it possible for our spirit and our body to communicate and cooperate with one another. In other words, even though our spirit is that part of us which communicates with the spiritual world (with Father God, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit), and even though our body is that part of us which communicates with the natural world (what we see, touch, hear, smell, and taste), it is our soul (our mind, heart, personality, individuality, etc.) that is that part of us which stands between our spirit and our body, with the power to discern and the will to ultimately decide whether the spiritual or the natural world would reign in our soul. Put differently, our soul has the power to reject our spirit’s messages. Again, this spiritual truth is why our unregenerate souls struggle with our born again and saved spirits.
This above-stated spiritual truth is why the testing of every spirit is essential, because our unregenerate mind by nature, in accordance with the sinful old man/old woman nature that initially programmed our soul to think wrongly and/or sinfully, always has influenced/controlled which lies or which truths would flow from our unregenerate heart. As our Lord declares, our unregenerate hearts are deceitful, and this truth is why out of our hearts comes “…evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,” and so forth (Matthew 15:19). That’s why God expects us to surrender to His Holy Spirit’s control, because the residual effect of our old sinful nature remains in our souls, even after our spirits/hearts have been born again and saved. The Divine Truth is that Holy Spirit is the only One who can quicken and illuminate the instruction, guidance, and Light (found in the Word of God) so that our conscience is able receive God’s moral standard and then apply His standard correctly to our daily living and to every one of our circumstances (via the daily renewing of our mind/soul) .
Furthermore, once the Holy Spirit quickens and illuminates our conscience, we no longer have that natural conscience that God gives to everyone. That’s why the Holy Spirit is then able to direct our conscience toward discerning each Divine Truth, as well as is able to influence our conscience to choose to allow each Divine Truth to flow out of our born again and saved heart.
To be exact, when our conscience is under the full influence of our soul’s Enlightener and our spirit’s Sanctifier (the Holy Spirit), our Holy Spirit quickened and illuminated conscience makes us aware of how foolish it was to walk “…in the vanity…” of our mind (Ephesians 4:17b). Consequently, our animated and enlightened conscience affects not only our choices about how we value and live our lives, and/or how we value other individuals and the way(s) they live their lives, but also our Holy Spirit quickened and illuminated conscience affects what we speak. For these reasons, especially the last one, our Holy Spirit quickened and illuminated conscience will influence us to choose to speak Divine Truths instead of lies, because we agree with God that lying is a moral wrong (a vanity).
In view of everything stated thus far, it should be obvious that the Holy Spirit is the only reliable One who can direct/guide us into all Truth, because our natural conscience isn’t ALWAYS a reliable guide, for our natural conscience only can tell us what is probably morally right or good. Unfortunately, our natural conscience cannot tell us WHAT is truly morally right or good. That’s why we should not let our natural conscience be our guide, for as believers, we ALWAYS must know for sure if what we consider to be morally right or morally wrong is based on God’s absolutely Divine Truths, or just based on our own relatively imperfect truths—based on our own ‘think so’ certainties. Put differently, it must be clear in our mind that our conscience has been accurately and properly regulated—has been set on pure/good, blameless, and clear.
Now, in Romans 9:1, the apostle Paul definitely is saying that it takes the Holy Spirit operating through his conscience to confirm whether his statements are Divine Truths; that is, the Holy Spirit is the One who testifies to whether or not what the apostle has said or is saying lines up with the Word of God. By extension, the apostle also is teaching us that, like him, we (believers) are more apt not only to speak God’s Divine Truths but also to make the right (moral) choices about how we value and live our lives, and the right (moral) choices about how we value other individuals and the way(s) they live their lives, when our own conscience is under the full influence of our soul’s Enlightener (the Holy Spirit) and our spirit’s Sanctifier (the Holy Spirit).
Therefore, we know that our own conscience is under the full influence of our soul’s Enlightener and our spirit’s Sanctifier, when we have such a noticeably firm understanding of God’s Divine Truths—when we constantly are speaking and applying those absolute Truths to the situations in our own life. We’ll also know that our own conscience is under the full influence of our soul’s Enlightener and our spirit’s Sanctifier, when we are so sensitive to the Holy Spirit, especially when He is convicting us about our sin against God (convicting us whenever our soul and body break God’s moral Law) so that we readily accept the Holy Spirit’s conviction and immediately acknowledge, confess, repent (change our mindset/thinking about) our sin, and seek God’s forgiveness. Lastly, we know when our own conscience is under the full influence of our soul’s Enlightener and our spirit’s Sanctifier, when we not only obediently apply the read and/or heard Scriptures in our own life but also willingly desire to benefit from (to mature spiritually from) that application.