"David was conscience stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.'"1
David was conscience stricken because he knew he had disobeyed the Lord's directives. Have you ever noticed how some people, no matter what they do, don't seem to have a conscience, or have a dead conscience and justify their every action? And then there is the philosophy that says, "If it feels good, do it." And this is supposed to make it right? This is pure nonsense.
Everybody is born with a conscience that is programmed very much by the way we are brought up. The word con-science literally means with-knowledge. If we grew up in a rigid, legalistic and punitive home or church/religion, chances are we will have a rigid, legalistic, punitive conscience. On the other hand, if we grew up in a very liberal environment, we may do things that God's Word teaches are sinful and not feel a tinge of conscience.
As a result of faulty teaching, some people feel guilty when they shouldn't and don't feel guilty when they should. On the other hand, people who consistently ignore the voice of their conscience can end up anesthetizing or deadening it, which is a dangerous way to live. Some of these people become psychopaths.
To have a healthy conscience, first we need to deprogram the rigid legalism and other faulty input and teaching we received in the past as well as our rationalization of actions we knew very well were wrong. Then we need to reprogram our conscience with knowledge based on what God's Word teaches as right and wrong. Repetition, repetition, repetition in our mind of these truths and these principles is how we reprogram our conscience.
To reinforce this programming it is imperative that we consistently do what we know is right regardless of how we feel. Remember, a healthy con-science is with-knowledge, not with-or-about-feelings.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the good sense to learn what is right according to the principles as found in your Word, and the help to always follow your directives in thought, word, and deed. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. 2 Samuel 24:10 (NIV).