Paul states that he has served God with a clean conscience (en kathara suneidesis). This statement might seem like a tangential remark, but the word, “conscience,” is found no less than thirty times in the New Testament, and five of these are in 1 and 2 Timothy (1 Timothy 1:5, 1:19, 3:9, 4:2; 2 Timothy 1:3). A quick glance at the context of these words will show that there is a correlation between the spiritual wellness of a person and a clean conscience.
For example, 1 Timothy 1:5 links the conscience with love, 1 Timothy 1:19 with perseverance, 1 Timothy 3:9 with leadership, 2 Timothy 1:3 with thanksgiving and prayer, and 1 Timothy 4:2 speaks of the dangers of a seared conscience.
In light of these passages, one of the most precious things a person could have is a clean conscience. If this is true, then we need to ask what a clean conscience is. For this answer, we turn to the broader context of Paul’s letters. When we do this, we have good reason to say that a clean conscience is when there is consistency in the heart and actions of a person (1 Corinthians 8 and 10). Paul’s line of reasoning in these chapters is: if a person believes it is wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols and does so, that person sins by going against his or her conscience. In other words, this person is externally going against the internal convictions of the heart. The same principle is found in Romans 2:15.
If we apply this insight into our own lives, one thing we need is consistency. We need to try our best to live according to Christian principles. When we do this, there will be little to hide. Fear of exposure diminishes and boldness, leadership, love, and thankfulness ensues. Without this everything will be compromised. May we be able to say one day that we served God with a clear conscience. This is a life lived well.
Tags: 2 Timothy 1:3, christianity, Conscience, Theology