Conscience Void of Offence

Paul before Felix.jpg

Question: Can we always have a conscience void of offense toward God and men?

Answer: When we have a conscience void of offense toward God and man, we will not fear death or the future.

President Russell M. Nelson

“One day each of us will give an account to the Lord. This awareness was evident in a serious conversation I had years ago with a dear friend facing the end of his mortal life. I asked him if he was ready to die. I’ll never forget his answer. With courage and conviction, he said, ‘My life is ready for inspection’” (“Personal Priesthood Responsibility,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 44–45).

Some of Joseph's closest associates had heard him say, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood" (D&C 135:4).

* * * * *

Acts 24:16

16 And herein do I exercise myself (I follow these religious beliefs very carefully), to have always (in order to have always) a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

* * * * *

Joseph B. Worthlin.jpg

Joseph B. Wirthlin, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

In the scriptures, peace means either freedom from strife, contention, conflict, or war, or an inner calm and comfort born of the Spirit that is a gift of God to all of his children, an assurance and serenity within a person’s heart...

While we yearn for peace, we live in a world burdened with hunger, pain, anguish, loneliness, sickness, and sorrow. We see divorce with all of its attendant conflict and heartache, especially among the innocent children caught in the middle. Wayward, disobedient children cause their parents grief and anxiety. Financial problems cause distress and loss of self-respect. Some loved ones slip into sin and wickedness, forsake their covenants, and walk in their “own way, and after the image of [their] own god.” (D&C 1:16.)

The value of peace within our hearts cannot be measured. When we are at peace, we can be free of worry and fear, knowing that with the Lord’s help, we can do all that is expected or required of us. We can approach every day, every task, and every challenge with assurance and confidence in the outcome. We have freedom of thought and action, freedom to be happy....

Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality. We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us. Attaining harmony within ourselves depends upon our relationship with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and our willingness to emulate him by living the principles he has given us....

Dewey - Peace, Be Still.jpg

The phrase “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39), that the Savior uttered when he calmed the storm-tossed sea, can have the same calming influence upon us when we are buffeted by life’s storms. During the Passover feast, the Savior taught his disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) ...

President David O. McKay said, “The peace of Christ does not come by seeking the superficial things of life, neither does it come except as it springs from the individual’s heart.” He said further that this peace is “conditioned upon obedience to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. … No man is at peace with himself or his God who is untrue to his better self, who transgresses the law of what is right either in dealing with himself by indulging in passion, in appetite, yielding to temptations against his accusing conscience, or in dealing with his fellowmen, being untrue to their trust. Peace does not come to the transgressor of law; peace comes by obedience to law, and it is that message which Jesus would have us proclaim among men.” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1938, p. 133.)...

We sometimes refer to the Spirit of Christ as our conscience. If we follow its promptings, we can be free of sin and filled with peace. If we do not, but instead let our carnal appetites control us, we never will know true peace. We will be tossed “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. … there is no peace, saith … God, to the wicked.” (Isa. 57:20–21.) If we damage or violate our conscience by ignoring it, we can lose that gift because we no longer are sensitive to it. We will be beyond feeling, beyond the influence of that Spirit. (See 1 Ne. 17:45; Eph. 4:19.)...

On the Way to Carthage

On the Way to Carthage

We see an example of individual peace amidst strife and contention in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Near the end of his life, he was at the center of a whirlwind of turmoil and tribulation caused by devious associates, false accusations, and cunning plots against his life. Yet a few days before his death, he said, “I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.” (D&C 135:4.) His inner peace sustained him through monumental adversities, even his own martyrdom....

Can anyone’s mind be at peace if he or she is unfaithful in even the least degree to marriage vows? How much mental anguish results from a little lying, cheating, or stealing even if they are never discovered? Do we have peace of mind if we knowingly violate traffic laws? Or do we watch nervously for the ever-present policeman? Do we have peace of mind if we are not honest with our employers and do not give fair value for the pay we receive? Are we at peace if we are less than honest regarding our tax returns?

Latter-day Saints are obligated to seek inner peace not only for the blessing it is to them but so they can radiate its influence to others....If sin has deprived us of peace within, we can repent and seek forgiveness of our sins.

My brothers and sisters, we can be at peace if we “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.” (D&C 121:45.) The power is in us as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. He and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have provided the way for us to be at peace...We can enjoy it personally, within our families, in our communities, in our nations, and in our world if we will do the things that produce it. This peace leads to happiness. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 255–56.)

* * * * *

Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 120; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 70; Excerpts from General Conference, April 1991, “Peace Within,” by Joseph B. Wirthlin, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.