CONSCIENCE [1]
John 8:1-11
8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,

4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.

5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

NKJV
Prov 20:9

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (NIV)

John 16:8-11

8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgement;

9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;

10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;

11 and concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

(NAS)

The Gospel is not the listing of an individual’s sins to overwhelm him and convince him of his sinfulness (angels announcement to the shepherds was not their sinfulness). People have a conscious knowledge of sin: fall short of the glory of God. The Bible indicates each person has this inner knowledge. Without an awareness of sin in their lives or the need of a saviour there is nothing we can do to convince them without the Holy Spirit. We may define what sin is, we may rebuke acts of sin, but he Holy Spirit does the convicting – we do the proclaiming of the Gospel. (Billy Graham for example does not wear people down with their sinfulness; he defines sin but edifies the Gospel).

Conscience is the point where the light of God and sin of man meet. Co-knowing, knowledge with God, would be an appropriate definition of ‘conscience’. Or, as Oswald Chambers puts it: “Conscience is the innate law in human nature whereby man knows he is known.” Because our conscience doesn’t always agree with what we want to do, or believe, illustrates that it is foreign to our origins. We want to address objective guilt, that which makes us consciously aware of moral guilt. “Chrysostom already speaks of Conscience and Nature as two books in which the human mind can read of God, previous to supernatural revelation.” [2]

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Heb 10:22

Though the conscience itself is unreliable as to the full extent of the revelation of truth (needing the Word of God to clarify what is objectively true as opposed to subjective truth), the conscience does have power to release us, or condemn us and we cannot control it to our bidding.. Obedient response does move us progressively toward God. Those who die without God, however, will no longer have light; they are destined to live forever in darkness with no dynamic conscience to guide them toward God and truth.

“Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands I do. It is the eye of the souol which looks out either towards God or towards what it regards as the highest, and therefore conscience records differently in different people. If I am in the habit of steadily facing myself with God, my conscience will always introduce God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do.” [3]

Rom 2:12-15

12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

13 for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,

15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, [4]

(NAS)

“Gentiles who sin will perish, but the Law of Moses will not be used as a standard of judgement against them… The Gentiles are not excused from God’s judgement, but they will not be judged according to the standard (the Mosaic Law) that was not given to them.” BIBLE KNOWLEDGE COMMENTARY; RE RO:2

John 8: 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. [5]

Even those without the law have an intuitive knowledge of good. An evil man knows a good man when he sees one, though in his wickedness he may think that man simple. God has placed this mechanism, the conscience, in our being. It is that true Light which gives light to every man that comes into the world. Jn 1:9.

The conscience is a gift of God to lost man. The conscience is God not giving up on reaching out to mankind. But people don’t often listen to their conscience when they are faced with a selfish opportunity or response. Our selfishness actually resents the conscience. A person, who is not of God, walks in darkness and cannot accurately know good and evil about himself. As a result man cannot know himself as he truly is but is bound by his created image of himself which he worships.

John 8:24

24 “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am {He}, you shall die in your sins.” (NAS)

NOTICE THE FOCUS: NOT THAT THEY ARE SINNERS, BUT THAT HE IS GOD, SAVIOUR, SON.

AN UNBELIEVER GENERALLY FOLLOWS THIS THINKING PATTERN WHEN HIS CONSCIENCE PRODS HIM.

1. His conscience prods him when a choice is made contrary to what is morally right (or subjectively, socially acceptable) and it produces:

2. GUILT of not being, or doing what is good and right.

-As a sinner, a self oriented being opposed to loving God and others more than himself, he breaks God ‘s law of love to pursue his own selfish or evil desires.

3. In responding to guilt he seeks to justify himself, to reason away the conscience’s condemnation.

All human beings are prone to self-justification. When we fail, we seek to rationalize away our failure. We are prone to blame four things (amongst many others) for what is our seeming failure, namely: parental upbringing, heredity, environment and circumstances. ‘These,’ we say, ‘have conditioned me to be what I am.’ In fact these four things, of themselves, have not conditioned us at all. It is our reactions and/or our responses to these four things which have brought us to our present frame of mind. We make our own decisions and choices, and must stand by them. [6]

If you have a need to convince me your justified in a sinful action then you are thereby confirming guilt. It is not others that need to be convinced you are guiltless, but your own conscience and until it is satisfied by an act of God, you argue in vain.

People in their attempt to escape their conscience often compensate – make up for the wrong trying to appease the conscience! They seek to rationalize away personal guilt or responsibility. They are not happy with themselves and often blame others or circumstances for sinful behaviour instead of accepting personal blame.

Karl W having signed the abortion certificate for his daughter’s abortion and the crushing guilt. Purged from dead works. Heb 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

4. Some then become angry with people or life for not co-operating with his desire for acceptance and affirmation; thinking people are judging him.

“It is a curious fact about anger that the angry person insists – perhaps even to violence – that he is right and others wrong. It says something about the tremendous guilty and inferiority/superiority drive behind it, as a force of self-justification. If harm comes from anger, then, as with all anger, the subject thinks he/she is victimised. No responsibility is taken.” BINGHAM

Does one ever consider some poor self-image problems is the conscience conveying what is true and the need to draw unto God for mercy instead of affirmation? Poor self-image can be derived from not fitting in socially with peers or surrounding society, but ultimately the root goes deeper; people want and many demand society justify their decisions in the hopes conscience will be absolved. Abortion for example, many who have had an abortion have a deep sense the decision is not right, in spite of the people supporting her with arguments otherwise. However, there often is a post depression and a sense of profound loss.

A common feeling repeated int the interviews of women before, during, and after abortion is the sense of a life being taken. “It’s killing,” responded one woman interviewed in a clinic’s waiting room. “But it is justifiable homicide.” [7]

Now this person may have convinced her conscience’s feeling away with propaganda, but how do you suppose she responds when she hears one say, “Abortion is wrong and you are not justified in taking a life.” One: she will likely be angry with you for stirring up guilt, or she may be crushed by overwhelming sorrow of being viewed as soiled.

People refuse to acknowledge reality of failure to live up to conscience by extending excuses for their present condition or actions. One hardens his proud heart toward humility.

“Much secular counselling, psychotherapy for example, works from the basis of helping a person have a less severe conscience so that he will not feel guilty.” [8]

One then often distracts himself by cosmetic living or busy activity. He searches for ways and methods to convince himself the conscious is wrong! He attempts to cover up what he really is and becomes constantly aware of what people think of him. When he is caught in this trap of deceit be becomes bound ever increasingly by subjective guilt; additional guilt based on social peer pressure. If he can’t convince his conscience at least he can try to fit in with other people who will empathise with him. He also tries to get others to sympathise with his lot in life that made him the person he is. Most often, though, other people cannot override the conscience’s pressure (of course each other person is struggling for the same acceptance and confirmation, struggling with their own conscience). Happy is the person who finds a support group or a group of like mind that can he can whine together.

He becomes progressively more resentful of his self-condemnation as his efforts fail to give him peace. This person is angry because he feels unclean and can’t reason away his guilt.

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

Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. (KJV)

When we are unhappy with our conscious opinion of ourselves we often become very defensive, sensitive, and even increasingly angry. Depression is often a result of failure to reach the goal of attaining that which is deemed necessary to happiness – one loses hope that any effort will accomplish that end – as a result they quit trying and resign themselves to failure mixed with subdued anger.

-To this person, Grace, as a word and concept, is abhorrent for it suggests his works, justification, and self-abasement, and efforts are worthless. The conscience doesn’t let up.

Only God, who governs your conscience, can release you from condemnation. And He won’t do that until you acknowledge the reality about yourself and accept it rather than resent what and who you are. Instead of excusing ourselves by blaming, or wallowing in self-pity, we must admit our need and submit in humility to God, to His opinion and solution.

Conscience = guilt = justification = anger; no matter how hard we try no human being can satisfy (sometimes appease) a soiled conscience! The conscience is of God and only God can effectively deal with it’s prodding. Any counselling, psychoanalysis, other methods used to improve the self-image by trying to adjust guilt and conscience will not bring long term freedom.

Being not happy about oneself is often the conscience, the Spirit, conveying truth about oneself and the need for mercy from God. Many ask God for help to improve self, but when saved, the believer’s eyes are open to the fact, through the Word, that he has nothing to prove to God and rests from dead works. This is the only way of receiving a new life, through humility. The guilt of one’s condition is only dealt with by acknowledging Jesus Christ who was crucified for our salvation. I am to rest in God’s ability to deal with my present condition. But we rather blame others and circumstances than swallow our pride and admit our need. We need something greater than all our reasoning. We need grace.

****** ******

There is another spiritual entity that plagues the conscience. He doesn’t convict for peoples’ good, no, he torments the soul by taunting a person struggling with conscience. Satan is an angry creature.

Rev 12:10

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (KJV)

Job 4:15-19 A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!

(from New International Version)

1 Tim 4:1-2 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

Satan responds to a soiled conscience by applying pressure through outside peer pressure and also appealing to the carnality of the heart. Job’s counsellors for instance were trying to bring pressure on Job’s clear conscience, being inspired by Satan:

I do not know of Scripture that supports Satan having direct access to the conscience himself but he does respond to a person with a disturbed conscience and that is usually done through worldly principles.

**** ****

REPROBATE MIND

‘The primary meaning of adokimos is ‘not-received,’ ‘not-acknowledged’. “It is applied to persons who do not or ought not to receive honour or recognition.” [9] God therefore lets these people go. However, they will still seek to justify or gain acceptance from the righteous or society at large. (E.g. homosexuals – they need affirmation to help quieten their conscience and justify their pursuits. They refuse to admit guilt or shame and thus seek affirmation they are okay from the Christian Church).

Rom 1:28 And even as they refused to have God in (their) knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; ASV

These are people who wilfully resist the Light to pursue their passion and thus deny Truth. Truth is in conflict with the chosen goal to fulfil passion goals and as a result their desires begin to rule and own them. The warring against truth

**** ****
SEARED CONSCIENCE [10]

The seared conscience is by a person who by defiant effort kills the Light in himself; outright rejection of the Light of God. He stops rationalizing his conscience and accepts rebellion as his pursuit – knowingly choosing rebellion/hypocrisy to feed his sinfulness. This too is by choice. The rejection of reality and the cauterizing the connection to the spirit.

***** *****

FOR THE BELIEVER, ONE WHO COMES TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, HIS WHOLE LIFE IS TRANSFORMED.

Heb 9:14

how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? .

James 4:6-10

6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.

10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

(NAS)

The human race can rewrite their history and acts. They can blame life’s circumstances for being the selfish, unloving, stubborn, whining, unforgiving, broken, and wilfully unbelieving people they are. They might even persuade some people they are victims (implying that victimisation destroyed them and they had no hope of ever being good or balanced and so should be pitied but not held accountable). But all this will still not satisfy the conscience’s demand!

Rom 3:21-26

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

(NAS)

Confession to man may bring relief but ONLY GOD CAN TURN OFF THE GUILT. AND FRIGHTENING IS THE THOUGHT THAT GOD WILL TURN OFF THE PRODDING OF A PERSON’S CONSCIENCE, FOR THEN THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO HOPE.

THE GIFT OF GRACE JUSTIFIES, AND THE PERSON NO LONGER NEEDS TO COMPENSATE FOR THE CONSCIENCE, NOR DO THEY NEED TO JUSTIFY THEMSELVES, OR LIVE IN ANGER ABOUT AFFRONTED PRIDE. GRACE RELIEVES A PERSON FROM GUILT IN ORDER TO FREE HIM TO GODLY OBEDIENCE.

WHY?
.

ANGER, is defused by PERSONAL ACCEPTANCE OF REALITY

A sinner’s focus is on his own lot in life. “The idea of restoring to man that which he has lost, and doing it at a great personal sacrifice to God Himself, is not often understood”.

We, Believers, stop being angry with people and life for making us unhappy; we are humbled, no longer seeking to save face in light of the facts.

ACCEPT YOURSELF AS YOU ARE ACCEPTED BY GOD, THROUGH CHRIST

JUSTIFYING ourselves is no longer necessary for we know who and what we are; it is now GOD WHO JUSTIFIES US THROUGH OUR ACT OF HUMILITY

Rom 3:26

26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one whom has faith in Jesus.

(NAS)

Your humility receives mercy of God. It is God who now justifies who you are by His grace. He now stands up for us – You don’t have to defend yourself any longer.

Rom 8:32-34

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;

34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

(NAS)

GUILT – DEALT WITH AT CHRIST’S CROSS

Col 2:13-14

13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

14 having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

(NAS)

Christ provided the way to have our guilt dealt with by appealing to the cross. Only the cross can satisfy Holy justice. The cross now takes upon it what the conscience demands – payment for sin. In holiness God can now justly release your guilt – for it has been paid for!

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor 7:1

Though salvation is secure we must not resort back to human methods of dealing with guilt, the dead works, now we have been given the tools to live our new life.

CONSCIENCE continual sharpening of a redeemed conscience.

CONSCIENCE – THE CREATOR FREES US OF GUILT BY AN ACT OF GRACE!

Now there is a change of focus in dealing with the conscience in the believer’s life. We welcome its function as it is untilized by the Holy Spirit.

I Jn 1:9-10

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

(NAS)
This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offence to God and men. Act 24:16

It is a life of continual humility and repentance easily exercised for we now know the peace that passes all understanding.

WE HAVE THE BLOOD SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, TO SATISFY HOLY JUSTICE ON OUR BEHALF. (HEB 9:11-15; 10:19-22)

 


[1] CONSCIENCE There are thirty occurrences of suneideesis in the New Testament (one more possible usage in a variant on John 8:9). The verb form (suneidon, sunoida) occurs only four times. The thirty occurrences are almost exclusively Pauline (22, with an additional 5 in Hebrews and 3 in 1 Peter), and eleven of them are in the Corinthian correspondence. The classical use of this word-group for simple knowledge occurs in Acts 5:2,12:12, and 14:6. The Pauline development of conscience as a monitor of actions and attitudes is particularly noted in the Pastoral Epistles, where adjectives like “good” (1 Tim 1:5,19; cf. Acts 23:1) and “clear” (1 Tim 3:9; 2 Tim 1:3; cf. Acts 24:16) are used to depict the conscience as affirming right action. CONSCIENCE There is no Hebrew term in the Old Testament that is a linguistic equivalent for the classical Greek term suneideesis. The Hebrew term for “heart,” however, is a prominent term of self-awareness in the Old Testament. The lack of a developed concept of conscience in the Old Testament, as we see later in Paul, may be due to the worldview of the Hebrew person. Consciousness of life was of a relationship between God and a covenant community rather than an autonomous self-awareness between a person and his or her world.

Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Copyright 1996 by Baker Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

[2] International Standard encyclopedia.

[3] Oswald Chambers May 13th

[4] “Take the grossest case you can think of – nowhere is there any record of a cannibal tribe thinking it is right to eat a man; they always try to conceal it.” Oswald Chambers/Consciance.

[5] The underlined portion is missing from many modern translations due, primarily, the Westcott and Hort controversy but soundly support by the Textus Receptus..

[6] For the Pastors and the People; Geoffrey Bingham; new creation publications; Australia. Pg 359

[7] as quoted from In necessity and sorrow, Basic Books 1976; p. 94 by Magda Denes.

[8] Bobgan – How to counsel from Scripture; Moody Press

[9] International Bible Ency. ‘Reprobate’

[10] 1 Timothy 4:2 The meaning then will be, “In the last days certain persons will depart from the faith of the gospel. This apostasy will essentially consist in their giving heed to spirits that lead to error, and in embracing corrupt and erroneous views on demonology, or in reference to invisible beings between us and God. This they will do through the hypocritical teaching of those who inculcate falsehood; whose consciences are seared,” etc. The series of characteristics, therefore, which follow, are those of the “teachers,” not of “the taught” of the ministers of the church, not of the great body of the people.

(from Barnes’ Notes)
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