Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith…. This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare; having faith and a good conscience…. (1 Timothy 1:5,18–19—NKJV)

A genuine believer’s service of life is ideally exercised only in the sphere of love. After all, it is only by the sheer love of God the Father that he receives new birth through Jesus Christ. It is the love of Christ that is emphasized in His death upon the cross. It is from such dynamic love that the authentically born-again man derives his motives and methods of service.

Our text points out the transformational work of God on the heart of the believer, as He shapes and molds the man after the image of His dear Son. There is actually a progression of the hand of God that is traceable through the believer’s heart, to his conscience and then to his unfeigned faith. This is the path that God utilizes as He disciples His child. This mighty, divine work is what makes the disciple fit to serve his God throughout the long campaign of his life, until God calls him home. This process is true for all believers. It is especially fitting for maturing youth and is also applicable for seasoned veterans.

Note that our passage also deals with the conscience of man and helps us understand the day in which we live. It seems beyond question that our society is losing its sense of conscience quite quickly. We know that all men have a mechanism called a conscience. It was placed in mankind at the fall. Consciences are activated as parents, society, and religion fill it with beliefs of a moral nature. It is then up to the individual to either embrace these beliefs and guard their effectiveness in his conscience, or become hardened to the beliefs, making them ineffective as a check to his behavior—or, worst of all, to reject them as unnecessary to keep, and then society is the poorer for it. As our society increasingly rejects moral absolutes or diminishes their relevance, it should come as no surprise that society loses its sense of conscience. While a weakening sense of conscience seems the norm for our world, a strengthening sense of conscience must be the norm for the authentically born again.

When a man is born again he believes in his heart the Gospel (Romans 10:9–10). The hand of God activates the believer’s heart and causes a God-inspired purity, according to our verse. This leads to a plagued conscience when something is morally amiss, and this drives the believer to pursue humble and faithful obedience to His Lord’s commands and desires. The same hand of God that touches the heart, purifying it, also drives the desire for obedience which gives the man a “good” conscience (perfect in its kind, giving pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of well being; as opposed to an offended conscience which is neither satisfying nor forgiving). God’s hand then molds the man to produce a visible, viable and faithful life. Our word “sincere” means unhypocritical (a hypocrite was one who judged from underneath a mask, an actor who tried to pretend he was someone else).

The loving hand of God at work in the believer, touching all three aspects (heart, conscience, faith), is what gives rise to the aim of discipleship—the display of God’s great love. This is the commandment (the charge, the aim) of the service of every believer, and it is what makes him fit to serve. This is what carries the believer as a fit servant to wage a good (noble, excellent) warfare (campaign) in the Lord’s army.

How healthy is your conscience? Are you sure that you are fit to serve your God because the love of God has shed abroad in your heart, because His love is molding you to love Him, love what He loves, and because your words, deeds, and motives are fragrant with His love? Trust and obey.