The answer to this question is both Yes… and No.
Yes, I can be something other than what God has made me, by apostasy, by falling away from the truth, by letting myself be deflected from His will, by doing other than what I know He wants me to do, by making myself rather than letting Him make me, by choosing not to obey, by choosing my way over His, by claiming my freedom instead of waiting to inherit it, and then by spending that freedom in the pursuit of nothing. Yes, I can be something other than what God has made me.
No, I cannot be something other than what God has made me. I can never be greater, wiser, stronger, richer, healthier, kinder, quicker, prettier, more handsome, more energetic, more creative, more talented, more generous, more glorious, or longer lived than He has made me, who created all, who knows all, who guides all, who nurtures all, who preserves all, and who loves all. No, whatever my efforts, I can never outdo for myself what God has done in making me.
This, I think, is another explanation of what we call our ‘conscience.’
Usually, when people talk about ‘having a conscience,’ they’re thinking of our knowing the difference between right and wrong in a moral sense. We somehow are born with (or in some explanations, we acquire) the ability to distinguish right from wrong, and reason, which is humanity’s glory or shame, makes us know that to choose moral right is preferable over choosing moral wrong. We look at the world around us and at human history. We see people whom we call good and others we call bad.
There’s another level of this action of moral choice, though.
We often are handed by our upbringing or our environment a second set of choices to be made which we incorporate into what we call our ‘conscience,’ and these appear, even to us, as not quite moral choices, but choices to be made nonetheless. Some of them are tribal mores, some from family, others from the social or economic groups we’re part of, some from our religious affiliation, all claiming authority over us.
But back to what conscience really is, is it really moral discrimination residing in us, choosing between right and wrong in the sense of law? That is what we are led to believe, and thinking this way, we inflict upon ourselves both deserved and undeserved guilt when we make the wrong choice. Much of what lodges itself in the house of our ‘conscience’ is really squatters, not what has a right to live there, even on a moral level, just man-made laws and expectations, sometimes even morally wrong.
Could it be that our conscience is really something more personal than just living up to or rejecting a moral law? Could it be the mechanism that the Lord has built into us when He made us, that lets us know when we are following His design for us, and when we are turning aside from it? He wants us to be what He created us to be, no less, no greater (that’s impossible), no different, but exactly what He had in Mind when He designed, formed, and finished us. Conscience helps our freedom find ourselves.
“Let your conscience be your guide.”