The Bible, the Conscience and mental illness

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If a parent shows the child a picture of a cow and says, "A cow goes Oink", the child will wonder why every one laughs at him when he says cows goes Oink in grade 1. This is exactly how the conscience works. It is only as reliable as the information you have taught it.

"For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you." 2 Corinthians 1:12



  1. The conscience must be taught right from wrong.
  2. A good conscience is a good feeling you get when you do that which you have been taught is right.
  3. A bad conscience is the guilt you feel when you do that which you have been taught is wrong.
  4. If a person does what is wrong and feels no guilt it is because they do not think it is wrong or they have a seared conscience.
  5. "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, " Romans 2:14-15
  6. "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. Acts 28:27

A. The conscience must be taught

  1. A conscience is a mechanism created by God. We are born with one the same way an artist starts every painting with a blank canvas.
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  2. A conscience must be taught what is right and wrong. This explains why very young children feel no remorse for things adults view as wrong. For example, playing with matches or drinking out of the toilet is neither right or wrong to a child. They do not see any difference in playing with matches and daddy starting the fireplace; playing in the bathtub vs. playing in the toilet water. One smack on the behind quickly teaches the child that action is WRONG. The next time the child does that action, they get a bad feeling for doing it... even if mommy is not watching. That is the conscience.
  3. You might think that children would be born with the understanding that hitting another child in the face is wrong because they understand the pain that child is experiencing. The fact is they do not understand something they have never experienced themselves. This is one of the reasons why spanking a child is critical for them to reinforce what is wrong. When you hit the child and say no, the child actually feels the pain. Suddenly the child realizes the connection with physical hitting and pain. Only then does the child learn that hitting others is wrong because it makes the other child feel in a way they themselves would not like to feel. This is the foundation of the golden rule: "Treat others, the way you want them to treat you."
  4. As the parents reward good behaviour and discipline for bad behavior they are painting on the conscience of the child. No longer is the conscience of the child a blank white canvas. The final result is a complete painting that is the result of years of hard work by the parents.
  5. Now if a parent teaches a child that shoplifting is good and normal, and the child has learned by the example of the parents, the child will grow up believing shoplifting is right. When the child shoplifts, they do not feel anything bad or any guilt. Why would they? They have been taught that such a sin is ok.
  6. Sex before marriage is practice by many young people and it doesn't bother them at all or make them feel guilty. Why? Their parents, Hollywood and their friends all think it is perfectly acceptable and normal behaviour. Only Christians feel guilt when the have sex before marriage because they know God has said it is a sin.
  7. Apostle Paul killed Christians but thought he was offering service to God! But he also said he lived with a clear conscience. This is easy to understand that he never violated his conscience, even though he was sinning against God. Once he learned the truth about Jesus, he felt guilty and did not eat for three days. He then "arose and was baptized and washed away his sins." Acts 22:16 He was forgiven!
    ""They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God." John 16:2
    "Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, "Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day." Acts 23:1
    "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. "And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. "And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. " Acts 26:9-11
    "even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;" 1 Timothy 1:13

B. We must have a clear conscience:

  1. "I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, " 2 Timothy 1:3
  2. "Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, "Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day." Acts 23:1
  3. "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin." Romans 14:22-23
  4. "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, " Romans 2:14-15

C. The seared conscience

  1. "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, " 1 Timothy 4:1-2
  2. The seared conscience is what happens when we repeatedly do that which we know is wrong.
  3. Every time we do something that our conscience tells us is wrong with a bad feeling, the next time we do the same thing, it won't feel as bad.
  4. Over time, as we continue to do the same wrong thing, we have seared our conscience so that when we do that bad thing, we get no bad feeling.
  5. It is a grave condition to have seared your conscience.

D. The defiled conscience

  1. "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. " Titus 1:15
  2. A defiled conscience is a conscience that has been mis-taught what is really right and wrong. The defiled conscience is one that has been taught wrong is right and right is wrong.
  3. When the United church of Canada openly teaches that practicing deviant sex practitioners are prime candidates to become their pulpit ministers, the people in the pews who believe this have defiled consciences. They have been taught that deviant sex practitioner sex is not sin... even though the Bible clearly condemns it.
  4. When the Children's Aid Society openly teaches that any parent, who spanks his child in any way, under any circumstance is guilty of child abuse and should be sent to prison, parents who believe the CAS "doctrine" have defiled consciences. They have been taught that spanking is wrong, even though the Bible commands parents to spank their children as needed. In fact God told us that a parent who will not spank their children is guilty of child abuse! The Bible says that a parent that will not spank their children hates their children! "He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently." Proverbs 13:24
  5. So a defiled conscience is very common. Non-Christians openly practice all kinds of sins they believe are just fine!

E. Guilt comes from a bad conscience:

  1. Guilt only occurs when you do something that you have taught your conscience is wrong.
  2. If you have been taught the theory of evolution that there is no difference between a man and an animal, you will not have any guilt when you kill either an animal or a man.
  3. It is possible to feel guilty over things that you have been taught is wrong, but are actually ok in the sight of God. Some Christians believe it is a sin to dance under all circumstances. A husband and a wife dance together in the bedroom and feel guilty about it afterwards. Here is a case where the action was not sinful, but because they believed it was sinful, their conscience gave them a bad feeling.
  4. "This command I entrust to you ... fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme." 1 Timothy 1:18-20
  5. "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. " Titus 1:15
  6. "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, " 1 Timothy 4:1-2
  7. "and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. " Ephesians 4:19
  8. "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. " 1 Timothy 1:5
  9. "So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." " Genesis 4:3-7
  10. "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. " 1 Timothy 6:10
  11. "The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble. " Proverbs 4:19
  12. "Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. " Psalm 34:12-13
  13. "And you groan at your final end, When your flesh and your body are consumed; And you say, "How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! " Proverbs 5:11-12
  14. ""But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil."" Proverbs 1:33

F. The psychopath and the conscience: Psychopaths and sociopaths

  1. A psychopath is neither mentally ill or crazy. They have their own set of rules that tells them, that whatever they do, is ok! Therefore they do not feel guilt when they do what others see as wrong because they do not think it is wrong!
  2. Psychiatrists and psychologists incorrectly teach that a psychopath has no conscience. Had they read the Bible rather than Fraud, they would know that the conscience of the psychopath is functioning perfectly normally. The psychopath feels no guilt for murdering and cannibalizing others because they don't think it is wrong to do so.
  3. Hannibal in "Silence of the lambs" is what we imagine psychopaths to be. Psychopaths are famous in Hollywood movies for cutting body parts off a random victim, eating them while still alive, then dumping them in the snow to slowly freeze to death. This is the image that comes to mind when we think of a psychopath.
  4. Detailed study of Psychopaths and sociopaths.
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    Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the lambs"

G. Mental illness is caused by violating the conscience: (cognitive dissonance)

  1. We have documented many true case histories of people going mentally ill because they violated their conscience: The cases of "Applesauce", "Candy", "Muffin".
  2. Danger! Never violate your conscience! It might make you mentally ill! The "good conscience" is the foundation of your "good mental health".
  3. A bad conscience is a bad feeling you get when you do that which you have been taught is wrong. "Cognitive Dissonance" is a modern fancy term invented and used by psychologists. They plagiarized the idea directly from the Bible without giving God any credit. "Cognitive Dissonance" is a bad conscience and is a primary cause of mental illness.
  4. "Psychologists use the term "cognitive dissonance" to describe the battle inside a person who believes one way and acts another. For example, a woman will normally feel intense cognitive dissonance if she secretly carries on an affair with another man while pretending to be happily married to her husband. Even if her husband suspects nothing, her own mind will constantly remind her that she is living with contradictions. Because the mind cannot sustain too much cognitive dissonance, it will seek ways to resolve the contradictions. Perhaps the wife will unconsciously let slip certain clues about her affair, or maybe she will accidentally call her husband by her lover's name. In such unexpected ways the mind will attempt to bring together her two lives. ... Guilt and fear finally forced me to deal with the cognitive dissonance. Guilt made it feel dissonant in the first place; it constantly reminded me that my actions did not coincide with my beliefs. And fear, especially the fear I experienced after I learned how sex had utterly destroyed my Southern pastor friend, forced me to face my own sin. It led me, kicking and protesting all the way, toward repentance. I mention this because guilt and fear do not often get good press in our liberated society. Had I sought help from a professional counselor, that counselor may well have dealt with the symptoms of guilt and fear rather than with the root problem. I have come to believe that the guilt and fear were wholly appropriate; they were, in fact, the prods that led me to resolve the cognitive dissonance in my life." (T. C. Muck, Sins of the body, 1989, Vol. 19. P 51)
  5. Chemical psychiatry uses drugs to take away the bad feeling that results from violating your conscience. It is like the engine warning light coming on in your car and the psychiatrist disconnects the light bulb. Sure the bad feeling is gone for the few hours the drugs kick in, but it has not fixed the problem. Christianity fixes the problem and the warning light goes out.

H. True Clinical Cases where cognitive dissonance caused mental illness:

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Casebook of Biblical Psychiatry Version 7
Real Mental Illnesses
Real Cases
Real People
Real Causes
Real Solutions

  1. The case of "Applesauce" (Schizophrenia: Caused by hidden sin: Applesauce reacted with denial, acting insulted, anger and confession)
  2. The case of "Candy" (Depression: Caused by hidden sin: Candy reacted with denial, acting insulted, anger and confession)
  3. The case of "Muffin" (Depression: Caused by hidden sin: Decoy confession to a lesser sin as a smokescreen to hide a larger sin)

I. The Guilty conscience: The Christian vs. the non-Christian

  1. The guilty conscience is not the only way people become mentally ill. Other causes include lack of hope, meaning and purpose, anger and jealousy.
  2. It is important to acknowledge that since non-Christians have defiled consciences (mis-taught) they are much less likely to become mentally ill because of a guilty conscience. They sin all the time and it doesn't bother them.
  3. However Christians who continue to sin, are prime candidates for mental illness because the guilt (cognitive dissonance) will tear their mind in two!
  4. In fact, the incidence of mental illness among religious people is much higher per capita as compared to non-Christians.
  5. The sins non-Christians commit often cannot cause "cognitive dissonance" because they do not get any bad feelings when they commit those sins... because they have been taught it is not a sin but ok!

J. The solution of a Guilty conscience: Confession and Forgiveness!

  1. The Bible emphasizes a clear and healthy conscience.
  2. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones. " Proverbs 3:5-8
  3. "Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. " James 5:14-16
  4. "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer." Psalm 32:1-4
  5. "A tranquil heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones. " Proverbs 14:30
  6. "O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath, And chasten me not in Your burning anger. For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly. " Psalm 38:1-5
  7. "Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. " Psalm 38:9
  8. "For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. " Psalm 38:17-18
  9. Sinners who feel guilt can come to God for forgiveness. They need to become Christians by being born again through full immersion in water baptism.
  10. In the chart below, notice that our conscience is cleaned when we attain forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ at water baptism.

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  1. It is beyond question that sin can cause mental illness. It is not the sin itself, but the corresponding guilt that is associated with the sin.
  2. The incidence of guilt causing sin is higher among Christians than non-Christians because non-Christians don't get a bad feeling when they sin because they don't view them as sins.
  3. When a Christian lives a secret sinful life, the conscience kicks in with bad feelings. The resultant cognitive dissonance is powerful enough to tear the mind into pieces. Behaviors like delusion, paranoia, schizophrenia are common.
  4. The only cure for mental illnesses caused by guilt is repentance. Confess your sin and change your life and your mental health will be restored.
  5. Don't waste your time on counseling... unless it is the council of God!
  6. When mentally ill people confess their sins to Jesus and repent of their sinful lives and put their faith and trust in God, they will be almost instantly cured of mental illness. Why not visit a good, Bible believing our local church in your own home town.
  7. Click here to find the closest church to your home.


By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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