Wednesday, 6 February 2013
…who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)… Romans 2:15
Paul states it as an axiom that when people by nature do the things which are found in the law, even though they don’t have the law, they “show the work of the law written in their hearts.” It’s a validation that we know intuitively, although we exercise this in varying degrees of actual adherence, what God expects of us. The fact that we display these moral convictions shows that there must be an ultimate standard on which they are being compared. Though we may err in our reasoning about a moral issue, the moral standard exists.
Showing that this code is ingrained “in their hearts,” their conscience then works with or against their actions; it bears witness to what they actually do. The Bible gives us insights into man’s conscience in several ways –
In John 8:9 is says those who faced Jesus’ pronouncement about being the first to stone the adulterous woman were convicted in their conscience. It is a tool of conviction.
In Acts 23:1, Paul claimed before the Sanhedrin that he “lived in all good conscience before God.” It is a tool for right moral living.
In Romans 13:5, we are told to be subject to rulers, not only because of their wrath if we disobey, but merely for conscience’ sake. It is a rule and guide within a societal framework because God ordains rulers of societies.
In 1 Corinthians 8:7-12, Paul notes that believers can have a weak conscience. This comes from a lack of knowledge about the truth of God’s word. It is a part of man which must be corrected and strengthened through prayer and study.
In 1 Timothy 3:9, Paul tells Timothy to have a pure conscience. This would be living fully and completely within the ordinances of God and according to the word he has given. Right conscience is an attainable asset.
In the following chapter, 1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that those who reject God’s truth can actually incur a seared conscience. It is something that can be completely twisted or even eradicated.
In Titus 1:15, Paul speaks of those who are corrupted and thus they have a defiled conscience. It is something that when misused can produce ungodliness and immorality.
These, and many other examples in Scripture, show us that the conscience is a powerful tool to be used in accordance with God’s word or which will work against it. When exercised without God’s word, the conscience of man, like his emotions, is one of the most uncertain faculties he possesses. If not reigned in, it will become seared as Paul describes and the person will move so far away from right morality that they become completely defiled. This is total depravity and complete enmity with God, striving against him on every moral issue.
Life application: Are you seeking to align your moral compass with God’s word? If so, then you must first know God’s word and then allow your conscience to lead you to right moral actions and convict you of incorrect ones. When this is properly effected, you will be living fully and completely within the ordinances of God.
Heavenly Father, help me to never snub my conscience when it speaks to align my actions with Your word. Keep me from willful disobedience which can only result in a weakening of my conscience, even to the point that it is seared. I do want to please You and I pray this for Your glory. Amen.