Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed» (1 Peter 3; 16).
Moral conscience is the ability to judge one’s action and that of other people as good or bad and right or wrong. As with any other ability, it is something that can develop or deteriorate. Its growth can be healthy or harmful. Many people consider themselves to be righteous because their conscience tells them so; but the truth is that. unless their voice is in tune with the principles of the Holy Scriptures, they will be deceived. Others are constantly harassed by their own conscience when they could free themselves from guilty feelings if they would only trust the Savior’s merits and forgiveness.
Jerome of Prague had educated his conscience to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. He considered the Scriptures as the supreme norm of conscience. Toward the end of the Middle Ages, he condemned the church of his time for giving itself the power to replace the Scriptures. That’s why he taught the validity of Gods principles for humanity and denounced the abominations that were tolerated in the name of religion.
He was labeled as heretic and rebellious and was imprisoned so he could recant his position. Seriously ill and willing to be rid of his suæerin , he tried to simultaneously please his persecutors and his conscience, so he agree to recant all his ideas, except the ones concerning the Holy Word. However, this intent did not convince his accusers, let alone his conscience. During a second session of the council, he openly and courageously admitted that if he had to retract something, he would not be brave enough to face the flames of fire with truth and courage.
Jerome of Prague was an educated and rich man and was famous for his eloquence. He preferred to remain faithful to God rather than escape the punishment of a cruel death. And how many, to escape mockery, hardships, economic loss, or suffering, sacrifice the principles of reason and of conscience! Good principles ate set aside in favor of self-interest or the temporary benefits of the world, simultaneously losing eternal life.
Today, we can acquire a good conscience by obeying the Word of God, and the Holy Law will be written in our hearts (Jer. 31:33). Because this is our blessed hope: «I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you» (Ezek. 3:17), we can develop a good conscience that is in tune with the divine principles.