by Ernest O’Neill
“The mature individual-the rounded personality-the fully integrated pscyhe-the socially adjusted person”-we spend hours and hours discussing what a balanced human being is. But the ideal varies year by year according to which psychological theory or social goal dominates the magazines or the media. Many of us are increasingly dismayed at the slipping of the “ideal”- as more deviations become acceptable behaviour. The result is that the direction of our own development seems vaguer the longer we live.
All this uncertainty ends when we begin to notice that we have within us a mysterious sense of what is right and wrong. Often it seems to point us higher than our parents or our peers. Indeed, sometimes we feel it is too demanding because it convicts us about things that nobody else can see or know. Nevertheless, we seem to experience a sense of completeness whenever we obey this secret advice-and, adversely, a sense of failure when we ignore it. This inner monitor is usually called “conscience.” Most of us find that aligning our wills and actions to this inner voice brings harmony and clarity to our personal lives. Whereas introspection and preoccupation with mental and emotional progress brings confusion and vagueness. This is due to the fact that conscience mirrors the absolute will of our Maker whereas our mental meditation mirrors the shifting values of our society. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first century “for our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Cor. 1:12). Conscience tells us how God’s own heart feels about things: if we respond with our wills, a basic oneness with the Creator is established.
Conscience is Personal
You were created to do and be something unique-rather, you were created so that the Christ of God could do and be something unique as YOU. This means that others’ opinions or ideas are incapable of guiding your life and behaviour: you have a life to live that only you can live, so it’s essential that you follow the leading that is built into your inner being. Strictly speaking, if you follow your conscience as it’s informed by the revelation of the Creator’s nature in Christ, no one is really in a position to judge you. “The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one” (1 Cor. 2:15) states clearly that each of us has been created to live a life that only we can discover from God. The function of our conscience is this guidance. It comes to us directly from the heart of God so there is something superhuman about it. Even when the issue is a very earthly one like your tone of voice or eating or wandering thoughts, your instant willed response enables the Spirit of God to infuse inner life into you. In other words, response to conscience is response to a signal from beyond the earth-as a result, something comes from beyond the earth to you.
Conscience Reinforces Intuition
Actually conscience judges your actions according to the signals God is sending to your intuition-not according to the moral signals that your mind sends to your will. Thus conscience is the first part of the human spirit to be energized by the Spirit of God when a human being’s relationship with God is made right. As you respond to the convictions of your conscience, God’s Spirit increasingly energizes your spirit’s intuition so that you begin to perceive what God wishes to do in you. The more you act in accordance with conscience, the clearer is your intuition’s perception of God’s present will for you. This leads us naturally to deal with the second main function of the human spirit-intuition. Let’s begin our study of the human spirit’s intuition in the next article.