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The Human Conscience Series: OT Descriptions Of Our Conscience’s Workings

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SIH TOA ICONThe wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

(Prov 28:1)

 There are many aspects to the working of the human conscience that is within us.  One of the ways to come to an understanding of the functions of the conscience is by looking at descriptions of the conscience’s effects in the lives of Biblical characters.

In our study for today, we will be looking at many pictures of the conscience working in the lives of Old Testament characters.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Gen 3:8 (KJV)  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Gen 20:5-6 (KJV)  Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.  And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

Gen 42:21 (KJV)   And they said one to another, We [are] verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

1Sam 24:5 & 10 (KJV)  And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt…. Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and [some] bade [me] kill thee: but [mine eye] spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he [is] the LORD’S anointed.

1Sam 25:31 (KJV)  That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.

Job 27:6 (KJV)  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach [me] so long as I live.

Ps 16:7 (KJV)  I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Prov 28:1 (KJV)  The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Eccl 10:20 (KJV)  Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

THE STUDY:

The conscience described in the OT Scriptures…

1. Gen 20:5,6  -  she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

The Hebrew phrase “integrity of my heart” carries with it the idea of “completeness or perfectness of will and desires”….

This shows us that the conscience pushes us towards perfection in choices and deeds.

2.  1Sam 24:5, 10   – “And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him,…, And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people.

The phrase “heart smote him” comes from the Hebrew meaning “to strike upon the desires, will and goals”…

By this phrase we learn that when we sin our conscience strikes in harmony with our desire to please God, warning us of our failures.

3.  1 Sam 25:31 – That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart…”

Here, the phrase “offense of heart” is a translation of a Hebrew phrase that means “to cause to fall, or to bring to ruin, our desires, will and goals”…

Here we learn that our properly working conscience helps us to avoid ruin to our goals and desires.

4.  Job 27:6 – “…my heart shall not reproach [me] so long as I live.

The phrase “my heart shall not reproach me” comes from the Hebrew translated “my inner being will be bring shame upon me”…

From this phrase, we can learn that a properly functioning conscience will produce feelings of shame and embarrassment when we rebel against the Lord’s will.

5. Psa 16:7 -I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Here, the phrase “my reigns instruct me” can be translated “my inner being teaches, chastens and corrects me.”…

Here we are told that our conscience gives us continuing instructions and corrections based upon the counsel of the Lord to regulate our choices and actions.

6.  Eccl 10:20 – Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

The Hebrew phrase translated “in thy thought” carries with it the idea of “to receive with your senses”….

In other words, it is revealing that the conscience’s teachings can be “sensed” through our feelings of confidence, shame, or being troubled and unsure.

The conscience at work in the OT Scriptures:

1.  Gen 3:8 – “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

It was due to their conscience that Adam and Eve hid from the Lord after eating the forbidden fruit.  Our conscience helps us to understand when we have sinned against God, our communion with Him is broken and our need of repentance.

2. Gen 42:21 – “And they said one to another, We [are] verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

It was their conscience that caused the brothers of Joseph to feel guilt concerning the mistreatment of Joseph when they had placed him in the pit and sold him to the Egyptians (Gen 37:1-36).

Our conscience shows us when we sin against others and the results of those sins in our lives.

3. Prov 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

It is a wicked man’s conscience that causes him to feel threatened and mistakenly expect harm to fall upon him.  While the conscience gives the righteous assurance and peace knowing his heart is right with God and the Lord is with him every step of the way.

The human conscience works on the mind of the guilty causing unfounded anxiety and fear while supplying the righteous confidence and boldness in the face of danger.

THE SUMMARY:

We have looked at the Old Testament descriptions of the workings of the human conscience.  We have seen that the conscience was clearly at work in the lives of both the wicked and the righteous of the Old Testament.  The workings of the conscience is varied and numerous but, when working properly leads us to the things of God and to put down the acts of rebellion that we commit.

In the next section of our study, we will be looking at the New Testament descriptions for the working s of the human conscience that is within us all.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

For a free copy of this series in book form pdf version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/conscience.pdf

For a free copy of this series in book form docx version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/conscienceprotected.docx

Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: http://settledinheaven.wordpress.com


11 Comments

  1. Terry says:

    God bless you for wonderful post and I say thank-you

  2. SLIMJIM says:

    Thank you for this I enjoyed watching and hearing you teach on you tube. I also appreciated seeing how man’s conscience was already working in people even in OT era

  3. […] The Human Conscience Series: OT Descriptions Of Our Conscience’s Workings. […]

  4. Where would we be as a human race or as Christians without our ‘conscience’ or ‘discernment’ to know what is a right decision or thought or action and what is not?? Diane

    • Rob Barkman says:

      I agree fully… we get a small taste of what the world would be like when we see events like:
      1. the girls being held 10 years in Cleveland.
      2. the Sandy Hook school shootings
      3. the bombing of the twin towers on 911

      etc etc etc

      Think about what it would be like if EVERYONE had a malfunctioning conscience like this.
      Lord Bless.

  5. Thanks for such a thorough explanation Rob. I think the human conscience must be one of the ‘best’ gifts God has given us. It is such a shame that some people (most people?) sear their conscience and it becomes so much less effective, and in some cases non-effective.

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