What Does Your Sense of Smell & Your Conscience Have in Common?


Back in March of 2020 I completely lost my sense of taste and smell. Since then, many others have also experienced this odd phenomenon thanks to Covid-19. If you are one of the few who hasn’t experienced this, let me tell you – it was weird! I’ve lost partial sense of smell due to colds or allergies in the past but this was a whole different level. It made eating a whole new experience.

As I read the first chapter of 1st Timothy, a crazy connection appeared between my loss of smell and the idea of an unclear conscience. (Don’t worry – I’ll explain.) In verse 19, Paul says:

Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result their faith has been shipwrecked.

1 Timothy 1:19 NLT 1998

This is the second time in this chapter that Paul mentions a “clear conscience.” (v. 5 and 19) My Bible’s study notes had something to say about it, too.

How do you keep your conscience clear? Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else and do what you know is right. Each time you deliberately ignore your conscience, you are hardening your heart. Over a period of time, your capacity to tell right from wrong will diminish. As you walk with God, he will speak to you through your conscience, letting you know the difference between right and wrong. Be sure to act on those ‘inner tugs’ so that you do what is right – then your conscience will remain clear.

NLT Study Bible commentary pg. 1928

In each circumstance, if the element (smell or conscience) is ignored enough, over time it loses its ability to guide you towards safety.

  • Loss of smell = A virus told my system to ignore the messages my nose was sending, making my senses ineffective and diminishing my capacity to tell safe from unsafe.
  • Loss of conscience = My sinful nature tells my heart to ignore the messages my conscience sends, making my heart hard and diminishing my capacity to tell right from wrong.

An unclear conscience is an incredibly dangerous thing. Specifically, Paul said, “some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result their faith has been shipwrecked.” Thankfully, the method to keeping a clear conscience is pretty simple:

  1. Read the Bible so that your conscience is operating from a place of truth rather than emotion.
  2. Be sure to act on those ‘inner tugs’ that your conscience will serve up in challenging situations.

What does this look like in your day-to-day life? Comment below or email me privately at Emily@messyworship.com to share stories, ideas or questions!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you so much for giving me your Holy Spirit so that I can understand your scriptures and a conscience to nudge and tug my heart in the right direction. Please continue to increase my desire and strength to learn your will and obey it. (And thank you for loving me even in the moments I fail.) Amen.

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

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