But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:15-16
Keeping a clear conscience, or the importance of conscience is a theme that runs through Scripture, particularly in the New Testament. Conscience "refers here to genuine inward purity, not to a mere feeling of innocence" (J. Ramsey Michaels, p 216).
Conscience could be definied as the moral sense of right and wrong that individuals and societies have (see Romans 2:14-15).
Conscience in itself is not infallible or foolproof. Simply following it in something like "following the angels of our better nature" is simply not enough. One needs the presence of God (lost the good quote I had in front of me, I think from Scot McKnight) and the cleansing work of the Spirit through the blood of Christ, i.e., the saving work of Christ for us in his perfect offering of himself unto death.
I like the thought I heard in the past, from Warren Wiersbe I believe, that we should let the Bible, God's word, be our guide, and not our conscience. But our conscience is to become more and more on our side, since Scripture takes conscience quite seriously as something that is an aspect of us, that we can sin against and damage, as well as something that by grace we need to keep clear. We do this by seeking to follow Christ in obedience, seeking to obey God's word to us, Scripture. And as we do, then by God's grace in Jesus we will begin to have a good conscience and peace that we are right with God, ourselves, others and the world.
But we must ever depend on the Spirit and the word to help us, and never on ourselves. And as we do that we will find our conscience sensitive more and more to God's will revealed in Jesus and in his word. And we will be helped to walk in the way of Jesus, more faithfully.
I'm working on this, as I think over the years I've not taken conscience as seriously as Scripture does. What would you add here for us to ponder and grow on in regard to keeping a clear conscience?