“Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Having a good conscience,
The phrase “having a good conscience” develops “with meekness and fear” (3:15). We meet criticism with life beyond reproach.
The Greek word “conscience” is broader than the English word. It is not so much the intuition by which we discern between right and wrong as the soul measuring itself.
Literally, conscience means to know with. We are witnesses to ourselves. We testify to our conduct. This is especially true of the consciousness we have of ourselves in our relation to God. This is self testimony. It is the result of our application of the Word to experience.
Our conscience will never condemn what we believe to be right. This is a conscience that springs from a “faith unfeigned” (1 Ti. 1:5). A good conscience is a knowledge that we do right and are well-pleasing to God. It is a mind free from liability to itself.
Acts 24:16, “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
A “good conscience” is the best way to set forth a testimony. “Having a good conscience” means holding to norms of the Word of God. These are God’s standards, not ours. If we maintain these standards, we can handle any witnessing situation. When people detract from us, our standards speak to the problem. This does not mean that we never fail but that we operate with consistency and integrity.
Consistency in conscience establishes credibility with non-Christians.
Unjust suffering puts the Christian on the stand for all to witness. When asked to testify in court, we speak with the credibility of our conscience. If we do not have a good testimony, we will not bear witness properly.
Our conscience is our internal monitor that establishes our standards for comportment. If we violate our conscience, the monitor lights up. We grieve the Holy Spirit. A carnal Christian will not bear suitable testimony to the wonder of Christ. We discount what we say with how we live.
Our conduct must not give the lie to our confession. We uphold our witness with our conscience. We show the slander against us a lie by the authenticity of our lives.
The Christian is both defendant and attorney. We defend our faith with our mouths and back it with our lives. Life and lip must match for a powerful testimony.