but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Within the pages of Scripture we find the operation of the conscience explained through the use of three different examples derived from the world around us. Let’s take a few moments to learn more about the workings of the human conscience from the Word of God…
And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. (2 Samuel 24:10)
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) (Romans 2:14-15)
Our Conscience Acts Like A Messenger Within Us
In Biblical times, a King would write the laws of the land over which he ruled… then he would send his messengers to the towns in his kingdom taking a written copy of the newly written law with them. They would enter the town, announce the details of the new law and then post them for all to see.
This role of the messenger equates with the role of our conscience that lies within us. Our conscience does not write the laws of God, nor does it enforce those laws, it simply announces the existence of the law and reminds us when we are breaking those laws. The conscience, when working properly, is on of God’s messengers to reveal His law to mankind.
Paul explains the human conscious acting as a messenger of God, by looking at the lives of the Gentiles (Romans 2:14-15)…
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,
How can it be that the Gentiles who had never received knowledge of His laws from a human, outside source, were keeping some aspects of the law of God?
these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Paul recognized that, if they had never received the law of God from an external human source, they must possess some principles of the law within themselves.
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts,
These principles are instilled in the mind of every man. God gives to every man the necessary amount of knowledge to hold all mankind responsible for the sin they commit. This is done as an act of divine grace, using the revelation that comes through the act and existence of creation, without the receipt of God’s law from any separate human source.
“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;” (Romans 2:12)
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
their conscience also bearing witness,
Once the natural law of God enters the mind of man, the conscience then takes that knowledge and announces that law to man. It testifies to the laws’ existence and acts as a constant reminder to man when they violate those laws.
and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Once the conscience testifies of the laws existence and violation, the mind then must, either, accept responsibility for the infraction and take the appropriate action to deal with the sin; or else, refuse to accept responsibility for the action and find an excuse to cover the transgression.
All of this takes place due to the natural law given to every man and the conscience’s role as messenger confirming and repeating the law’s existence to all mankind.
Our Conscience Acts Like An Eye Within Us
We are all familiar with the workings of our physical eyes. It is through our eyes that we can receive light and we are given knowledge of the surroundings around us.
But we can take this understanding a step farther. Our eyes do not let ALL the light and ALL of our surroundings to us. Our eyes can only reveal to us what they are pointed towards. If our eyes are looking at what lies ahead of us, we have no knowledge of what lies behind.
This is the lesson of Matthew 6:22-23…
The light of the body is the eye:
The eye is the organ through which the body receives knowledge of light that is present. The eye isn’t the light but it testifies and reveals the light that already exists.
if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
If the eye is whole, functioning properly, looking into the light, the existence of the light is clearly revealed and dominates our sight.
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.
However, if the eye is diseased, not working as it should, it will be avoiding light, and looking into the dark areas that exist. It is this darkness that will then fill the body.
If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!
If the eye only looks into darkness, never being pointed to the light, the body is totally consumed with darkness, experiencing a total lack of light.
When applied to our conscience the lesson is a very simple one. The function of the conscience is limited to the standard to which it is pointed. In other words, when we fill our minds with the light of truth, the conscience works properly and testifies to the truth to us. However, when our conscience is not healthy, it is only pointed at the darkness of error, our conscience testifies to us in error.
A very specific example of this principle is found in the followers of Molech, who sacrificed their children to their false god. How could they do such a thing? They had been brought up from babies believing a set of false truths about Molech and the need to sacrifice their children. The actions of their conscience was based on these horrible false teachings, therefore their conscience did not affect them as they sacrificed their children, but would have made them feel guilty if they had not been willing to offer their children. How sad, how blind! Much like the people of Isaiah’s day….
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
Our Conscience Acts Like A Shepherd’s Rod Within Us
The Shepherd’s rod was used exclusively by the shepherd to care for the sheep. It was used as a club to drive off attacking enemies, it was used to gently discipline the wayfaring sheep, directing them back to the flock.
The conscience acts in a similar way, protecting the individual from sin, while directing to the path that should be taken.
And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people.
Here we see David’s conscience working as a disciplinary rod bringing to David’s attention that he had sinfully chosen to number the people of Israel. David has departed from the path that he should have been traveling and his conscience reminded him that his action was sinful, while also persuading him to repent of this sin and turn back to the path he was meant to travel upon.
And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done:
David’s repentance resulted from the intervention of his conscience. His repentance included:
1. acknowledgment of the sin that he committed
2. acknowledgment of his responsibility in the commission of that sin
and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. (2 Samuel 24:10)
3. acknowledgment of the need for forgiveness
4. acknowledgment that his sin was committed against the Lord and therefore,
5. acknowledgement that forgiveness must come from the Lord
6. acknowledgement of the true regret and sorrow that he felt
The conscience is a wonderful tool given by God’s grace to help the lost see their need of salvation and then, in the life of the Christian to keep us on track as we seek to serve our Lord and Savior. Through its three ministries (messenger, eye, rod) the conscience is a very effective tool that can be used of God to reveal the true spiritual condition of individuals and the spiritual need that is in their life.
The role of the Holy Spirit in using our conscience to show men their spiritual condition will be covered in another lesson.
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: https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/conscience.pdf
For a free copy of this series in book form docx version: please go to: https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/conscienceprotected.docx
Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com