Today we use “conscience” in two primary ways; one to indicate moral awareness, and the other to suggest a sense of guilt. Conscience is used in both ways in the NT. Some NT passages warn of evils which “sear” the conscience. Others warn that an inadequate understanding of biblical principles makes for a “weak” conscience. Thus conscience is not regarded as an adequate guide even though it is a moral sense.
The Bible also uses conscience in the sense of guilty remembrance of past sins. It is important to the apostles that believers refuse to sin knowingly. There is a confidence and freedom which come from having a clear conscience.
The most significant use of conscience as guilty remembrance is found in Hebrews. There it carries the meaning most uniformly given to it in the common speech of the first century. In common speech, “conscience” spoke of deep pain felt when a human being does wrong. For the Greek-speaking world, the “bad conscience,” marked by relentless inner anguish and the nagging awareness that moral wholeness had been lost, was of deep concern.
[한국어 – 양심이 없는 사람. 양심의 가책. 도덕성의 결여]
While there is no OT world for “conscience,” the term “heart” often functions there as a “bad conscience,” reminding of guilt and causing both sorrow and regret. This is also the way the term is used in Hebrews 9 and 10. Because of sin man is locked in the grip of his past, paralyzed from doing good by the realization that he is evil at heart. Nothing the ritual of the OT could do could free an individual from the awareness of his guilt and from a bad conscience.
Yet Jesus in his sacrifice of himself at Calvary death with just this bondage. His blood paid for the past sins that trouble our conscience. Cleansed from such sins, our conscience now are purged of our past acts. We can now act as holy people, for we have actually been made holy by Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews. 10:10).
If we are to experience the joy and freedom that are our heritage in Christ, it’s vital to realize that our past sins are gone. We no longer need to look back with regret and anguish; we are no longer the person we were then. Instead of looking back and feeling hopeless, we can look forward with perfect confidence and hope. Because of Jesus our conscience has been cleansed, and we realize that we truly have been made new.