“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
1 Timothy 1:5 offers three important spiritual motives: a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. We can begin our look at this motivational trilogy with the word “heart.”
“Heart” is represented by the word kardia in the original language of this passage and forms the basis for our modern-day word “cardiac.” It refers to our innermost being in a physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual sense. Internal purity of heart (or lack thereof) is certain to affect our relationships with others.
“Conscience” can be defined as “the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other.” (1) Much like an umpire, judge, or referee, the conscience arbitrates between right and wrong. The real question involves the “rule book” that our consciences depend upon.
You see, it is possible for two people to act in good conscience while pursuing very different courses of action. With this in mind, here are a few foundational principles that should guide our consciences…
- First, we should recognize that Jesus validated His teachings through His miracles (Mark 2:1-12) and His resurrection from the dead (John 20).
- Therefore, Christ should stand as the final authority that governs our consciences.
- Jesus identified the Scriptures as the Word of God (John 10:34-35) and the command of God (Matthew 15:3-4). Jesus also taught that the Bible was truth (John 17:17).
- In light of this, we can say that the Word of God should lead and inform our consciences based upon the authority of Christ.
However, it’s important to remember that our consciences are not infallible. As Paul the Apostle said to the Corinthian church, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3 NIV). Nevertheless, the conscience can be an excellent guide when it is guided by the Scriptures.
Finally, “faith” represents “a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to His will for one’s life.” (2) The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that “… faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is a critical element in our relationship with God for as we’re told in Hebrews 11:6…
“…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
(1) G4893 syneidesis https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4893
(2) “Faith” Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers