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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Keeper of Priorities

Components of the soul.

Relate these words on my behalf to the son of Saran; the task he has undertaken is not light. Let his conscience be clear and far-seeing, let it be humble and without pride.

  - The Rule of Ailbe, Irish, perhaps 8th century

Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

  - Acts 23.1

Every Christian knows about the soul. But what we know about the soul is vague. We cannot maintain the kind of close watch over our soul that Scripture requires (1 Tim. 4.16), or nourish our soul for holiness, unless we clearly understand its components and functions.

The soul—the spiritual center of a person—is made up of three interconnected, overlapping spiritual aspects. The better we understand these, the more effective we can be at submitting our soul to the transforming power of Christ and His Word.

The mind handles the information flow; the heart is the seat of the affections; and the conscience is the third partner in the soul, the keeper of our values and priorities. These three components maintain an ongoing dialog, integrating thoughts, feelings, and values, to determines which actions we will take..

Paul says that the conscience “bears witness” within our souls, in some cases accusing and in others excusing us of the things we think, feel, and do (Rom. 2.15). Concerning the conscience, he said (Acts 24.16) we should always strive to make sure it is “good” in relation both to God and man—nothing to accuse us of concerning either.

The conscience is that region of the soul where our priorities are determined, anchored, nurtured, stored, and deployed. It is the keeper of values, the priorities manager for the soul.

Whenever a matter comes before the soul, engaging mind and heart, the conscience comes into play with its raft of values, priorities, and default choices. The conscience arbitrates between what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling, searching out our best thoughts and most pure affections according to what’s consistent with God’s will. Then the conscience channels thoughts and affections together into practices—words and deeds—in the life of faith.

Taking care of the conscience, therefore, is a matter of utmost importance. God jump-starts our work in this area by writing the works of the Law on our hearts where our conscience can “read” it (Rom. 2.15; cf. Ezek. 36.26, 27). If God considered the best trainer of the conscience to be His Law, who are we to look anywhere else?

Every day the priorities, values, and default convictions that guide our thoughts and affections are being developed and engaged within our souls through the conscience. Left to itself, the conscience too easily becomes encrusted with the wrong kinds of values and convictions (Heb. 9.14); it must be daily purified and renewed by the work of Christ, Who fulfilled all the Law for us. Following the example of Christ, we turn to the Law, and all the Word of God, for the daily corrections and reinforcements our conscience requires to function as the Lord intends.

We need to make sure that we are continuing to nurture this keeper of priorities according to the manual and standards of the Lord. And that means reading, meditating, and studying the Word of God in prayer; looking to Him for the values, priorities, and choices that should guide our every step; and setting them firmly in place through ready and consistent obedience. The goal is a good and clear conscience, one that shapes the other components of our soul for a life of Kingdom righteousness, peace, and joy.

Perhaps this will be the week that you begin to make reading and meditating in the Law of God a part of your own regimen of spiritual disciplines.

Apart from that, how will you ensure that clarity, humility, uprightness, and love will guide your thinking, direct your affections, and determine the values and priorities that guide your life?

For Reflection
1. If we don’t regularly renew our conscience by the Law and Word of God, what can we expect?

2. How can you know whether your conscience is “good” or “clear”? 

Psalm 33.4, 5 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Joyfully shout! His Word is true; He does His work in faithfulness.
His love prevails the whole world through; the Lord loves truth and righteousness.

T. M. Moore

The Law of God
Our little book, A Kingdom Catechism, can help you become more familiar with God’s Law, so that your conscience can work as God intends. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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