“In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
You and I live in confusing, often hopeless times. People long for purpose and direction, to know what’s right and wrong. But in our media-saturated and entertainment-driven society, good is often called evil and evil is called good. Truth is uncertain. Morals are redefined. Confusion abounds.
Tolerance is the supreme value of the culture. Ironically, if you aren’t tolerant, you aren’t tolerated. Traditional values are being cast to the side. Common sense is lost in a sea of political correctness. People are more worried about saying the wrong thing than they are about doing the right thing.
Consciences are burdened. Hearts are heavy. The world seems dark.
Yet the Apostle Peter invites you to be beacons of light in a world oppressed by darkness. As Christians, you have the hope of Christ who is the light of the world—a light no darkness can overcome. So Peter invites you and me to be prepared to share this hope with a “good conscience.”
What do you do when you’re the one feeling suffocated by the darkness and anxious about the times? . . . Yes, people are desperate for hope, and that certainly includes you and me.
But here’s the thing. What do you do when you are the one with a burdened conscience? What do you do when you’re the one feeling suffocated by the darkness and anxious about the times? What hope can you provide when depression sets in and spiritual oppression kicks in? What do you do when you have a bad conscience because you’ve called good evil and evil good? Yes, people are desperate for hope, and that certainly includes you and me.
Part of the challenge is that many people try to digitally medicate all the hurt, anxiety, loneliness, and sin away by wandering aimlessly through a world of handheld devices, social media, and empty entertainment.
But this only distracts people to death rather than giving a clear conscience and a source of solace and hope.
That’s the goal of Satan.
He wants you to live with a bad conscience—one that is so plagued by guilt, by shame, and by fear that it immobilizes you. Satan is notoriously sinister in this regard. He’ll work to give you a bad conscience and then he’ll accuse you and call you a failure. (His name means “accuser,” after all.) He wants to drive you to despair so that you finally give up on Christ, who purchased you and cleansed you with His blood.
You see, your conscience is the place where your thoughts and emotions merge together. So if Satan gets you to feel bad about yourself, guilty about your sin, and shamed by life, he knows it will be difficult for you to have hope or share that hope with the world.
Where Satan and sin burden your conscience, the Word of God enlightens your conscience.
However, where Satan and sin burden your conscience, the Word of God enlightens your conscience. Scripture says the Word of God is a lamp to your feet and light to your path (Psalm 119:105). It gives clarity to your conscience and fervor to your faith.
As the creator of our consciences, God gave you a conscience so that you would know where you stand with Him, and therefore how to stand in this chaotic world. God designed your conscience so that through it (both your thoughts and emotions) you can listen to His Word and discern His will for you as it is revealed in His Word.
Even amid a world full of chaos and deception, God’s will is to give you a good conscience. Baptized in the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit, God puts His name on you to give you a good conscience. And your conscience is at full throttle when it’s governed by faith in God’s Word. That’s by divine design. God’s Law shows you what He wants you to do and where you have failed to do it, while the Gospel shows you what Christ has done, how He accomplished it for you, and how He is now at work in you.
Jesus silences the accusations of Satan and makes you pure and clean before God.
Jesus is the very Lamb of God who took all of the sins and hurts of the world into Himself and suffered once for them all to remove them once and for all. He silences the accusations of Satan and makes you pure and clean before God.
Yes, crucified, dead, and buried for the sins of the world, Jesus walked out of the tomb to forgive sins, cleanse impurity, defeat the devil, bring order to chaos, and give you a good conscience. A good conscience enlivens the soul like nothing else can. It brings light amid darkness, hope to the hurting, a confidence for the frightened, and security for the anxious.
Having a good conscience is utterly freeing. Your emotions are unbound. Your mind is freed. Suddenly, the world doesn’t seem so dark. It’s easier to breath. Your senses seem sharper. Your thoughts become clearer. Your feelings become fuller. Joy is real again. Hope is on the horizon. Life can be lived. That’s the power of a good conscience. That’s what so many desperately desire. And that’s what Jesus Christ gives to you at this very moment.
He wants you to have a good conscience so that, as Peter reminds us, you not only have hope, but are prepared to tell others about the hope that you have in Jesus. Therefore, He gives a good conscience into your ears through His Word, into your mouth through His Holy Supper, into your heart to believe, and into your life to live each day.
Jesus Christ gives you a good conscience. That means you are His and He is yours. As you bear up under the chaos of this society, where you’re reviled and slandered, told you’re intolerant so therefore won’t be tolerated, you are given a good conscience so that you can live and move and have your being in Jesus Christ, being prepared to tell others the reason for the hope you have in Him.
As you bear up under the chaos of this society . . . you are given a good conscience so that you can live and move and have your being in Jesus Christ, being prepared to tell others the reason for the hope you have in Him.
This article also appears in the February 2019 Lutheran Witness insert for the Minnesota South District. View the full insert with this article and additional news and encouragement here.