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RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Revival of the Voice of CONSCIENCE

[b]REVIVAL OF THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE[/b]
Compiled by Robert Wurtz II


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. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (I John 3:19-22)

People all over the world express their faith in Jesus Christ if I might use the term on a 'religious' level. Some go to church and sing songs and listen to a sermon. Others attend mass or some other ritual. This is what we may call the 'religious' aspect of their faith. But the question is, do those same people walk before God obedient to what they are conscious of as the revealed will of God? Are they conscientious to the moral aspect of day to day Christianity? Does their heart 'accuse' or else 'excuse' their actions? Do they listen to the voice of conscience at all? Does that voice function properly in their lives?

Defining The Conscience

There is a faculty within the heart of man that is most mysterious and serves as the primary difference between man and beast; that faculty is the conscience. It is that which originates in eternity, which God has set in the hearts of men as a witness to Himself judging between what is believed as right and what is wrong. It is an unaffiliated member that speaks exclusively on behalf of God.

The term conscience is defined by some theologians as a 'judgment seat'. It does not legislate laws, it merely passes judgment on the individual based upon what it understands to be the will of God. The word ‘conscience’ is used many times in the New Testament, but the concept is revealed early in the Old Testament. Perhaps the best example is found when David had slipped into Saul’s camp and cut off a portion of his robe. The scriptures says that it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD (I Samuel 24:5).

It was that piercing voice within that indicted and accused. It was that voice within that demanded an account. Later David would number Israel and afterward his heart would smite him again (II Samuel 24:10). Both incidents have a common link; the actions appear rooted in pride and self-exaltation. Both occasions brought the inward rebuke of his conscience.

Knowing Together ‘With’

The word conscience has its roots in a word that means to 'see' or to know together ‘with’ something or someone. You become conscious that someone else knows something together with you. It is also a knowing together with a will that is over and above your own. This is simply illustrated, perhaps, by thinking of a small toddler that the parent has told not to touch something. The conscience in the child is aware that there is a will in effect that is over and above their own (the parent). When they 'attempt to' or 'contemplate' going against that known will, the conscience rises up and they react often by looking over their shoulder.

The will of God on the other hand is expressed as a moral law that is written in the hearts of ALL men. It does not need to be taught it merely needs to be uncovered. Deep down in the deep recesses of man is a moral law that he/she has been suppressing since they were children. The more this moral law is suppressed the more wicked the person becomes. The conscience uses this moral law as its code by which to judge whether the individual is doing the will of God. In this way the conscience does not just tell us what we are, but it tells us what we ought to be.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/13 7:55Profile
PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: Revival of the Voice of CONSCIENCE

Excellent, brother Robert. Thank you for this. Thank God for eternal conscience, the affiliate of God, the accuser of flesh. Oh brother, may we heed our consciences and obey the Spirit's reasonings and worship the Lord with hearts free of condemnation and guilt. How blest is the man or woman who can come before God with a pure conscience! How pleasant is prayer offered when unhindered by a tampered conscience!


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Paul Frederick West

 2006/11/13 8:05Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

[b]REVIVAL OF THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE (PART 2)[/b]

Conscience in Contrast with Instinct

It is remarkable how God has given the animal kingdom instincts to preserve their well being. Animals as far as we know instinctively do not eat poisonous plants. This is a God-given faculty that gives them a sense of judgment with which to preserve their natural lives. The conscience on the other hand is the awareness of a supernatural law which addresses itself to man’s conscious will, not in order to enforce its requirements, but to make the individual aware of them so they can choose free-morally what they wish to do in light of what God requires. In this way a person is actually able to step outside of themselves (as it were) and look at what they are doing from God’s perspective. The person is able to look at its own attitude towards the will of God and then pronounces judgment on that attitude. This is a most amazing thing, as the conscience allows a person to take an unbiased and entirely objective look at ones own self. In this way the accused person passes the unprejudiced personal sentence on themself.

If Our Heart Condemn Us Not

Our conscience at all times is making judgments on our thoughts, intentions, deeds, words, and overall being. It is constantly making a comparison to what it believes as the will of God. Conscience can express itself before, during, and after the act. Generally when folk are bent on doing something wrong they will disregard their conscience or distract themselves from hearing its voice and commit the act. After the deed is done and act is committed the conscience meets little opposition and the heart (as in the case of David) ‘smites’ the person.

The conscience can also work in harmony with the memory to counsel us to do some certain deed that we know to be needed done. It can also advise us NOT to do something.

It is during the transgression itself that the conscience is generally the weakest. This is more likely because the mind is most distracted by the action itself. Under the influence of some passion (anger, lust, etc.) the conscience becomes almost completely stifled. After the fact the conscience speaks the LOUDEST as it expresses satisfaction for what is done rightly or it protests the act creating tremendous anxiety and unrest.

In the above case we would call our good acts as having been done with a clear or ‘good’ conscience and the evil acts as with a ‘guilty’ or bad conscience. The heart approves or condemns based upon the ruling of the conscience. If our hearts do not condemn us then we have confidence towards God. If it does condemn us then a sense of needing to right the wrong weighs heavy upon us as we would approach God. We cannot conscienciously have confidence in our approach to God with pending controversies between us and Him.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/13 8:51Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

Quote:
How blest is the man or woman who can come before God with a pure conscience! How pleasant is prayer offered when unhindered by a tampered conscience!



Thanks Paul. Hoping just to share from some studies and teachings I am doing on this subject over the next several weeks.

God Bless,
-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/13 8:52Profile
PaulWest
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 Re:

Quote:
Hoping just to share from some studies and teachings I am doing on this subject over the next several weeks.



Very much looking forward to this bread, brother. May the Lord richly bless these studies to the hearts of all that glean from them.

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2006/11/13 9:53Profile
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 Re:

I'm looking forward to this study also. I've heard it said that the conscience is the gateway to the spirit of man, I believe it is important that we understand its function and keep it clear.

In Christ,

Ron


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Ron Halverson

 2006/11/13 11:43Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

EVERYONE HAS A CONSCIENCE

By manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (II Corinthians 4:2)

Every person has a conscience. This is the plain truth of our text. If some men had no conscience at all then Paul could not appeal to it as he ministered. Man has a conscience just as sure as he/she is conscious. The voice of conscience in the hearts of men on certain occasions shouts with a thunder of a thousand batteries. Ten thousand voices without does not have the volume of that single voice within. And though men or angels should praise a person, lauding their righteousness unawares of their secret sins, the conscience would be makeing it all for nothing as it declares in God's stead their guilt before him. Likewise a thousand could stand up to condemn, but if the voice of conscience affirms the life and behavior, one may stand even as Luther and declare, "Here I stand so help me God. My conscience is captive to the word of God."

If man had no conscience, it would be impossible he should have the ideas of right and wrong, of good or ill desert, of virtue and of vice (C.Finney). Without a conscience there is no voice of affirmation speaking on behalf of God on issues of morality. It would be impossible to convey moral ideas if man had no conscience wherewith to apprehend and appreciate them.

In a later series of studies we will examine the conscience in terms of its need for instruction through the word of God, but suffice it to say that even the hardest of sinners, under the Divine light of God's Holy Spirit experiences the awakening of the conscience in such a way as if it were raised from the dead. That faint voice becomes a ROAR as the Holy Spirit awakens it. It is not THE voice of God in man- but it is surely 'A' voice for God in man. And that voice is as if man were standing before God at every moment. The thoughts the meanwhile continually accusing or excusing one another.

This is most important for ministers to realize. The conscience of the congregants is continually judging the words of ministers. Even impenitent sinners conscience will affirm the truth of God's word though their hearts may hate that truth. This is what led Finney to conclude that "God Cannot Please Sinners." What the impenitent heart loves (sin) the conscience CONDEMNS and what the conscience AFFIRMS the impenitent heart rejects. For this reason a sinner is at war within themselves. There is no hope for ministers but to preach to the conscience and at least secure 'it's' AMEN.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/14 18:15Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

[b]The Conscience: a means of spiritual survival[/b]

Matthew Henry once commented that, “it is a good thing to have a heart within us smiting us for sins that seem little; it is a sign that conscience is awake and tender, and will be the means of preventing greater sins.” The conscience has the power to produce in us terrible anguish. Returning to our Old Testament example of David's heart smiting him we gain revelation into the severity with which the conscience can deal when we sin. The word ‘smite’ in the Hebrew is very strong language. It means to smite, to beat, to kill, to slaughter, to slay, to strike, to lay stripes, to cast forth, and etc.

What better way to express the impact that the conscience has on the minds of men? When the conscience 'smite's there can be no rest. The heaviness is enormous. The conscience is not quick to forget either unless due repentance has taken place. The interesting thing is that the Hebrew word could mean anything from to 'strike lightly' to 'slay', but is mostly translated ‘to smite’ (as in to ‘kill’). This is the sense in which one is left with the conscience when it is transgressed. The relationship with God has been smitten. The sentence is proportional to the crime. The worse the crime the worse the sense of judgment. One could arguably commit a sin and feel as if their relationship with God had almost been slain. Not that it had been slain, but the consciousness of the relationship in light of what has happened makes a tremendous feeling of death.

O. Hallosby the Scandanavian theologian in his classic work 'Conscience' gave an analogy that by way of progression we could say that if I were to burn myself I would suffer an intense physical pain. If I suffer the loss of reputation for something that happens I suffer pain on a completely different level. But if I do something against my own conscience I feel a sense of pain that is absolute, because the law that was transgressed is absolute. This is a pain on the highest level as it is the pain of having lost out with God.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/16 8:49Profile
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 Re: the problem of faulty consciences

Quote:
one could arguably commit a sin and feel as if their relationship with God had almost been slain. Not that it had been slain, but the consciousness of the relationship in light of what has happened makes a tremendous feeling of death.



Yes, our conscience is a powerful judge. However, it can, and often does, convict of “sin” that is not sin. We must always keep in mind that the conscience is not necessarily the voice of God. I share an episode to drive this point.

Two days ago, immediately after reading this thread, I was given a strong urge from the Spirit to drop in on a Christian lady in town. I arrived to discover her in a turmoil. (She had been thinking of calling me to come see her) So what was her trouble? Her conscience. It was condemning her so severely that it caused her entire body to shake.

Now, you ask, what was her crime? It was this: She had “seriously offended and enraged several people in town”, and she felt dreadful about that. People had spread rumors accusing her of scandal, betrayal etc. People were shunning her business. I asked her to tell me what exactly she had done WRONG. As we unraveled the events, and got to the heart of the matter, it became clear that she had done absolutely nothing wrong. It was her conscience, not her deeds that had given her a death sentence.

Together we filtered through all the “stuff” to uncover her REAL CRIME: idolatry – trusting in self and in fellow man. She had unconsciously believed that, as a Christian, God held her responsible for a good testimony. And now she was standing, condemned in his court.

The accusations where spawned from jealousy primarily. Nevertheless, God had permitted it. We ended our visit with prayer and praise - she thanking God for sending the trials in order to set her free from the bondages of her conscience. She didn’t need anyone to think well of her. She didn’t even need a good reputation. God could bring success to her business if he wanted to, and give her a good standing. She didn’t need man for that. She needed to depend on God.


Countless Christians are driven by consciences that are wired with this, and all kinds of faulty-programming, and they don’t know it until trials come, and they find themselves bearing guilt that cannot be forgiven (Christ did not die for what is not sin in God’s eyes)

I dare say that our consciences are in constant need of rewiring – becoming programmed to the mind of Christ. God instructs us how to develop a properly-working, healthy conscience:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1,2

So just how do we transform our mind - that is, our consciences? Or rather, how do we let God transform us?


Thanks for posting a topic that we rarely talk about, yet profoundly affects our lives – and ultimately our eternal destiny.
Without considering the workings of the conscience, we focus on the intellectual, emotional, and behavioral levels, and never get to the root.


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Diane

 2006/11/16 10:15Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Hi Diane,

Thanks for sharing this. I hope to get to some of these topics a little later in the study, but it is good to look ahead a bit.

Quote:
Countless Christians are driven by consciences that are wired with this, and all kinds of faulty-programming, and they don’t know it until trials come, and they find themselves bearing guilt that cannot be forgiven (Christ did not die for what is not sin in God’s eyes)



I think sometimes we need to distinguish between even our conscience and the enemy bringing oppression. The enemy loves to jump in the middle of things and pretend to be God. I heard once a good way of telling the difference between a sense of condemnation (so-called) and true Holy Ghost conviction. Condemnation will make you want to turn and run from God while true conviction will cause you to run TO God and His mercy. Not a perfect saying, but I think it to be true in general. God is always working towards reconciliation with sinners and especially His children. The enemy comes to bring death (separation).

God Bless,

Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/16 12:40Profile





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