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The Human Conscience Series: NT 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.

Our study for today will be very similar to our previous study.  For today, instead of looking at Old Testament verses, we will be looking at New Testament verses that describe the conscience’s effects on individuals.  Please note, as in our prior study, although the word “conscience” is not used, the work of the conscience is clearly seen in each of these Scriptures.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Matthew 27:3-5 (KJV)
3) Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4) Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that].
5) And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Mark 6:14-16 (KJV)
14) And king Herod heard [of him]; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
15) Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
16) But when Herod heard [thereof], he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

1 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV)
4) For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

1 John 3:19-21 (KJV)
19) And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20) For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21) Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God.

THE STUDY:

The work of the conscience described in the NT Scriptures…
1.  Matthew 27:3-5 – …Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, departed, and went and hanged himself.
The phrase “when he saw he was condemned” is translated from a Greek phrase with a common meang of “when he perceived that judgment was awaiting him”…..

This shows us that the conscience reveals guilt and impending judgment.

2.  Mark 6:14-16 – … But when Herod heard [thereof], he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.
This is very similar to Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no man pursueth”…

In both of these texts, we can see a result of the conscience at work is paranoia on behalf of the one being convicted of wrongdoing.

3.  1 Corinthians 4:4 … For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
“I know nothing by myself” is another way of saying “There is no perception within myself”.   Paul was telling us that his conscience was not convicting him of unfaithfulness in the ministry.  However, because it can malfunction, his greatest concern was if he was looked upon as faithful by Christ.

Although the conscience can be a great asset in discerning our condition before the Lord, it can malfunction and its testimony can lead us astray.

4.  1 John 3:19-21 …And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God.

The phrases “assure our hearts”, “heart condemn us”, and “heart condemn us not” are all describing the work of the conscience within us.  “To assure” describes actions that cause the conscience to testify of innocence and purity; “to condemn us” describes the conscience testifying of guilt and coming judgment; while “condemn us not” is when the conscience is silent on an issue, resulting in presumed innocence.

The conscience not only testifies of guilt, but also testifies of innocence, or at times can imply innocence through silence.

THE SUMMARY:

This completes our study of the various texts in the Bible that describe the workings of the conscience without containing the word “conscience” .  In these two sections we have learned the following about the workings of “the conscience that lies with us”

The conscience:

1. Gen 20:5,6  - pushes us towards perfection in choices and deeds.
2.  1Sam 24:5, 10   – works with our desire to please God, warning us of our failures.
3.  1 Sam 25:31 – helps us to avoid ruin to our goals and desires.
4.  Job 27:6 – produces feelings of shame when we rebel against the Lord’s will.
5. Psa 16:7 - gives us continuing instructions and corrections to regulate our choices/actions
6.  Eccl 10:20 –teaches us through feelings of confidence, shame, or uncertainty
7.  Gen 3:8 –  reveals when we have sinned, communion is broken, and repentance is needed
8. Gen 42:21 – shows us when we sin against others and the results of those sins in our lives.
9. Prov 28:1 – causes unfounded anxiety/fear for the guilty while supplying confidence/boldness to the righteous.
10. Matthew 27:3-5 – reveals guilt and impending judgment.
11. Mark 6:14-16 – causes paranoia on behalf of the one being convicted of wrongdoing.
12. 1 Corinthians 4:4 – can be a great asset, or it can malfunction and lead us astray.
13.  1 John 3:19-21 – testifies of guilt, also of innocence, or can imply innocence by silence

We have looked at both the Old Testament and New Testament texts that clearly describe the work of the conscience without using the word “conscience” in the texts.  The remaining sections of our study will center on the texts that contain the word “conscience”.

May the Lord bless us as we 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:

    thank you Rob

  2. Charisse says:

    Dear Pastor Barkman,
    Thank you for this study! This is a very thought provoking topic and is providing insight on how God has designed those made in His image to function. It is interesting to think of Scripture from a slightly different perspective. May God continue to bless you with the love of His Word and the ability to communicate the wonderful truths of Scripture.
    Blessings to you and yours! Charisse

    • Rob Barkman says:

      So glad you were blessed with the series so far. The farther I progressed in the study the more I learned about my own conscience and it’s shortcomings. Good to her from you Charisse. Please say Hi to your family. I am trusting that you are being blessed of Him. May He continue to care for you and use you for His glory.

  3. Loved it! Thank you Brother Bark man for your faithfulness to our Shepherd :-)
    Blessings…

  4. When you spoke of Paul, and how he had a peace in his conscience of knowing that, as unto the Lord, his service and love for others was right in His eyes, it reminded me of how this is a perfect picture of true repentance and sanctification on display in the life of a Believer. Without God’s mercy in Paul’s life, how could he possibly not have been eaten alive with guilt over his prior record of wrongdoing against God. I think also of Peter, and how instead of just being guilty about denying Christ, through the Spirit’s conviction, his godly sorrow led him to repentance. A nice lesson today. Had a bunch of morning chores, one was my ironing, so I listened to your study while doing so.
    I also loved what you said about how God wants our faithfulness most of all. I often get hung up over concern about results after that I have obeyed; God simply wants me to be faithful to what He asks. Thanks.

  5. Thank you for sharing your insights into this topic. I can tell you that a conscience in the hands of a person who’s confused about God is a very dangerous thing, causing him or her to endure all kinds of ill treatment as “punishment.” I’m so thankful that we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Praise God for His patience while we learn.
    \o/

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Those who are confused about God and His Word can be classified as having a weak conscience. later in the series we will be looking at the characteristics of a weak conscience and how to strengthen it. Lord bless you. Thanks so much for the comments.

  6. LightWriters says:

    Excellent, and great to see a favourite scripture verse of mine heading up this teaching – Proverbs 28:1! God bless!

  7. SLIMJIM says:

    I’m enjoying your series on the Conscience in particular with your survey of the OT and NT of the human conscience in action

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