Many people think that their conscience is automatically the voice of God. Yet acting on the basis of feeling right, or perhaps not feeling guilty, about something surely can’t be enough. If I don’t have a conscience about travelling in excess of the speed limit, then that is not God telling me that the speeding law is ridiculous! The Bible clearly indicates a need to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7) and, in this case, there is no question of a higher law being contravened.
On the contrary, continued speeding wears our conscience down because the consistency of our practice affects the inward response to our behaviour. The Bible refers to this as the “searing” of the conscience (1 Timothy 4:2), which another translation describes as a conscience’s “loss of feeling”. This echoes the sentiments of Ephesians 4:17-19 which suggests that continued wrong practice can (logically) limit all sense of what is right.
It would seem that there is, therefore, a danger that we can live oblivious to the leading of God by failing to condition our conscience deliberately. For God to continue to guide us by His Spirit, we need to be practising what is ‘right’ and this generally comes first by obedience to God’s direction that we receive through Scripture. After all, such obedience is a hallmark of the Christian life (Matthew 28:20). For our conscience to be a means by which God leads us, then, it needs to be shaped by a deliberate choice to practice being godly. We then develop stronger convictions and become protected by the increased intensity of desire to live by them!