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RobertW
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Independence, Missouri

 Re:

[b]CONSCIENCE AS 'A' JUDGMENT SEAT[/b]

In our previous study we referred to the conscience as a judgment seat. The conscience does not legislate law it merely makes absolute judgments based upon what the individual believes to be the will of God. The conscience presses the mind towards unconditional obedience to that will. And since the conscience does no legislate laws it must have a code that it is using to judge. This 'code' as it were is of the utmost importance.

When a person is born they are born in a fallen state and into a fallen world and to fallen parents. If those parents or the person's guardian(s) are Christians then the 'error' being introduced into the minds and hearts of the individual is minimized because they are trianed up in the fear and admonishion of the Lord. Yet the limitation exists that the childs conscience then becomes effected by the teachings of the parents that are sometimes less than biblical. We will take this topic up in our next discussion, but first I wish to give ample recognition to the value and function of the conscience even in the unbelievers who were raised by unbelievers.

I wish first to demonstrate how the conscience in fact can still act as a moral voice of reason even among the Godless. I will use two examples. One from George Fox and one of my wife who attended church for the first time as a teenager in High School.

George Fox (1624-1691) was believed by some to be as near to a true prophet of God than has arisen since the apostles. He believed that the light of God existed in all men. I make the argument, that what George Fox was referring to we would call the conscience. He was once told that the Indians did not have the light of God within their hearts. In an journal excerpt from his travels to Virginia and North Carolina dated 1672 we read:

Not far from hence we had a meeting among the people, and they were taken with the truth; blessed be the Lord! Then passing down the river Maratic in a canoe, we went down the bay Connie-oak, to a captain's, who was loving to us, and lent us his boat, (for we were much wetted in the canoe, the water flashing in upon us.) With this boat we went to the governor's; but the water in some places was so shallow, that the boat, being loaden, could not swim; so that we put off our shoes and stockings and waded through the water a pretty way. The governor, with his wife, received us lovingly; but a doctor there would needs dispute with us. And truly his opposing us was of good service, giving occasion for the opening of many things to the people concerning the light and spirit of God, which he denied to be in every one; and affirmed it was not in the Indians. Whereupon I called an Indian to us, and asked him, 'whether or no, when he did lie, or do wrong to any one, there was not something in him that did reprove him for it?' He said, 'there was such a thing in him, that did so reprove him; and he was ashamed when he had done wrong, or spoken wrong.' So we shamed the doctor before the governor and people; insomuch that the poor man ran out so far, that at length he would not own the scriptures.

Keep in mind that the American Indians at the time were not in reputation for a biblical morality, but yet, by the admission of this indian there was yet within him something that reproved him when he did wrong. Not a wrong against a code he had been taught, but against the law of God that (though marred by the fall and other influences) still reproved to some degree to do rightly.

My second example is that of my wife Anna. She was raised in a non-Christian home and cannot recall ever attending church until she was invited to church by a friend in High School. I have had this conversation with her often if she felt a sense of wrong when she did do wrong even when she had not been taught that the things she felt reproved about. She affirmed that she always knew, but did not know how she knew that certain things were wrong. As best as I could say, she was smitten of conscience as her own heart reproved her of what he upbringing did not. This has proved to be a most powerful proof for the existence of God in the life of a person was can not recall a single conversation about God that had any real revelation until her first attendance at church.

I can scarce think of a more powerful personal testimony than these two examples of the faithfulness of God and the rebellion of men. Imagine the power of a testimony of a person who could look the lost in the eyes and say, "I was raised contrary to the law of God that was written on my heart and yet my own heart reproved me when I did wrong when my upbringing would not." This was the testimony of the indian and this is the testimony of my wife. The truth is, folk know better when they sin no matter who they are. Each person is accountable to God for the light that they have and everyone has at least the light of conscience and the light of creation.




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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/17 8:45Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

[b]THE DISCIPLINE OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE[/b]

But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. (Acts 24:14-16)

Paul had been taken by the Jews as he had returned to Jerusalem and would have allready been killed were it not for the Romans and him having appealed to his Roman citizenship. The Jewish authorities were bent on condemning and killing Paul. He was taken first by Lysias and then later to Festus, Felix, and Agrippa. The ringleader of his condemnation was Ananias the high priest who had hired a certain orator Tertullus to speak against him at this hearing before Felix. In chapter 23 Ananias had given Paul opportunity to speak for himself in which he only had gotten one sentence out of his mouth before Ananias had him smitten; the sentence was thus, [i] Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.[/i] (Acts 23:1)

You will notice that Paul appealed to the affirmation of his conscience in all that he did before the Lord. Ananias appearantly felt, that if Paul's heart would not smite him for his preaching, then he would smite him. And such is the arrogance of men who seek to control others and force them to walk in a way that is other than their own good conscience. This is the way of religion that man cannot worship God according to the dictates of his/her own conscience.

Yet listen to Paul as he makes his defense again and adds a few thoughts to this 'good conscience' matter. Paul states [i]that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. [/i] Implied in this statement is judgment before God. For it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. As if Paul said, in light of the fact that we are ALL going to stand before God and give an account for our lives, I exercise myself (discipline myself) to always have a conscience that is VOID of offense towards God and man. This implies effort. This is a deliberate working. He was diligent about it. He attended to this fact. As if he was saying. "I must keep my conscience clear between me and God and me and men, because someday I am going to stand before a holy and just God and if my heart condemns me God is greater than my heart and knows all things." If our heart condemn us not then have we confidence towards God.

So what is a good conscience? It is a conscience that is functioning as God designed it. The law of God has been written upon our hearts and this is the 'code' with which the good conscience weighs the deeds and thoughts of men. This 'code' has to be constantly calibrated by the word of God if we expect it to be accurate. This is why we need to spend time before the Lord in the word of God searching the scriptures as good Bereans. Everyone has to be fully persuaded in his/her own mind (Romans 14).

Here is Paul again before Felix. He appeals to his own good conscience before them all. When he preached he preached in light of the consciences of the hearers. [i]But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.[/i] (II Cor. 4:2) We must also understand this. Each persons conscience weighs the sayings and deeds of others; this is how we accuse or excuse one another.

Knowing therefor the terror of the Lord we persuade men. Persuade men to what? To walk in the light of the revelation that they have before God in a clear conscience. Not desiring to be deceived, but knowing that we all shall someday be resurrected and give an account to God for our lives. To take unto ourselves the FULL counsel of God and allow God to make us into 'PERFECT' believers. Not infallible or sinless perfection, but 'perfect' in the sense that we are a complete representation of the person of Jesus Christ. This [u]is[/u] holiness. This requires much time in the word allowing God to mold and remold our hearts until we rightly represent Him. It involves being [i]conscientious[/i]. It involves resigning ourselves to the will of God. To be ready to represent Him rightly and all of His majesty.

This was Paul's discipline. He disciplined himself to always keep a good conscience and to keep that good conscience clear before God and man. What an awesome thing! Sinners who never knew the Lord have no clear conscience. It is riddled with the woes of past transgressions that have never been purged by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Purging is a wonderful process. All the old sin has been purged from the conscience and it stands fresh and clear free from the weight of [i]past[/i] sin and eager and ready to weigh the thoughts, intentions, deeds, and overall life of the believer. Why? That it might bear witness in us in the Holy Ghost that we indeed are walking in the Light as He is in the Light. What a wonderful thing!

Some folks conscience has never been 'recalibrated' by the word of God. Notice that I did [u]not[/u] say by sermons or books or extra-biblical writings of respected ministers and professors. Its easy to take on the conscience of others that we respect as the conscience will often affirm their beliefs as it has no real basis to determine truth from error if one has no real steady diet of the word of God in personal devotion. So much is just regurgitated pablum that has been processed through the bias of other men's conscience. We need to grow past the pablum and get into the meat of God's word for the sake of our own GOOD conscience. No man or woman of God is balanced enough to speak to your conscience in the place of God's word and His Holy Spirit. You need what He wants to work out in YOUR life. It was Paul's discipline and we do well to make it ours also.



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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/20 8:39Profile
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 Re:

[b]WHAT IS A 'WEAK' CONSCIENCE?[/b]

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. (I Corinthians 8:7)

A [i]weak[/i] conscience is one that has an imperfect understanding of divine things. In the case of our text, there were those Greeks who did not have the knowledge that there was none but one True God. There were beliefs that carried over into their Christian experience that were false. Because they believed still in the possibility of many gods, for them to eat foods that had been sacrificed to idols was clearly an act of idolatry because their conscience affirmed the behavior as being done in worship of that idol. Other brethren who knew that there were no God's but one were not bothered in conscience as they knew that the idol was nothing more than a piece of stone. We may say that they had a 'good' conscience (because they had knowledge) and the other brother had a 'weak' conscience (because they were devoid of certain critical knowledge).

The one with the stong and well informed conscience must be conscious of the weak brother's weakness and not become arrogant in his liberty. I say liberty, because the one with the good conscience could eat the food without any transgression of conscience, but if the other 'weak' brother saw it, not having the full revelation of the truth, may be embolden to eat the thing as a food sacrificed to idols. [i]And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forevermore, that I don't cause my brother to stumble. (I Cor. 8:11-13)[/i]

A conscience is therefor said to be weak when it lacks certain critical knowledge. This is a most important truth. Romans 14:2 tells us that [i]One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.[/i] This is another look at being 'weak'. Here it is implied that the person does not have sufficient 'faith' to eat the meats. This is caused by a person not yet being fully persuaded in their own minds that eating the meats is actually OK. The conscience will not give the green light because the mind is not convinced yet of the arguments for eating it. This is also a 'weak' conscience. [i]But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. [/i](Romans 14:23 ASV) If the person cannot eat the food or do the deed proposed with a clear conscience they should not do it. If they do what they 'believe' to be sin it [u]is[/u] sin to them.

In this truth we discover another critical aspect of the Gospel that is essential to our understanding; liberty comes through revelation of the truth. One does not have liberty simply because they were converted, though by and large this is somewhat true. The person has to be fully persuaded in their own mind by taking to themselves the revelation of the truth in such a way that the conscience will affirm what it once rejected. No one has the right to transgress their conscience just because they are believers. If you believe eating food sacrificed to idols is wrong and you regard the idol it is disasterous to eat. You must work out your own salvation in this regard and be a good Berean and search the scriptures prayerfully and honestly as to whether that thing be sin or not. Once you are CONVINCED and the conscience gives the green light - then you can move forward and eat or 'do'.

Spending time in the word, again, and being a good student of God's word will bring your conscience into a 'good' state. The Holy Spirit and the word of God always agree; we must study to show ourselves approved that our conscience and the word might likewise agree. This is the key to gaining a good conscience and strengthening a 'weak' one.



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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/21 7:52Profile
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 Re:

[b]AN UNRELIABLE CAUTERISED CONSCIENCE[/b]

Speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their conscience seared with a hot iron. (I Timothy 4:2)

To cauterise or 'sear' is to burn the skin or flesh of (a wound) with a heated instrument or caustic substance, typically to stop bleeding or prevent the wound from becoming infected (Oxford American). It is the use of a branding iron that has the effect of burning the skin and also the nerve endings until no pain is felt. For third degree burn victims, there is often no pain involved due to the fact that the nerve endings of the affected area have been destroyed. This is known as 'insensate' skin. Our passage in I Timothy 4:2 is a most powerful illustration of what happens when a person 'sears' their conscience.

No pain in that 'area'. No sensitivity. The greater the extent of the burn the less able a person is able to regulate their body temperature as the nerve endings of the skin work in harmony with the bodies temperature regulation. This parallels the work of the conscience. Not only is it sensitive to areas of sin- but it gives us a 'feel' of the overall 'body temperature' (as it were). This prevents us from being in a lukewarm or cold state. But when the conscience is 'seared' and seared badly it is quite possible that the conscience would never make itself felt. This is what Paul refers to in Ephesians 4:19, [i]Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.[/i]

This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. The Holy Spirit will work together with conscience to keep us on track in our walk with God. Paul in Romans 9:1 makes an interesting statement, [i] I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,...[/i] This is a double appeal. Not only did he have the right witness of the conscience, but also being sensitive to the Holy Spirit he claimed no knowledge of self-deception in this matter. This is most important because the conscience could be 'seared' in an area and not give the right sense of what we are doing or have done. God will deal with you through the Holy Spirit even if your conscience becomes seared in an area. It is important NOT to quench the Holy Spirit or resist the Holy Spirit as He deals with us. What more hope have we once these have been silenced?

C. Finney has a lot to say about conscience and in many ways, I think, moves very much into his own personal convictions. However, I would like to share just a few of many of his points to give an idea of what having a conscience seared in some areas would look like. Here he writes from his 'seared conscience' message:

[i]31. When you can transact business upon selfish principles, take advantages in business, that shall put money in your own pocket at the expense of another--when you can enrich yourself by any employment, without regarding the interest of those with whom you deal, as you do your own, your conscience is seared with a hot iron.

32. When you can complain of a want of conviction of sin, this is evidence of a seared conscience.

33. When you can neglect to make confession of your sins to those who have been injured by them, and thus persist in your injustice and wickedness, without remorse, your conscience is seared with a hot iron.

34. When you can make excuses for not confessing--when you do not feel impelled by a sense of duty to make full confession--when you can satisfy yourself with a heartless, constrained, or partial confession--when you can be satisfied with a private confession, when it ought to be public--when you can be satisfied with confession, without repentance--your conscience is seared with a hot iron.

35. When you can neglect to make restitution, to the extent of your ability--when you can retain in your possession that which in equity belongs to another--in short, when you can hold on to possessions that were obtained by a violation of the great law that requires you to love your neighbor as yourself--when you can hold on to them, without restoring them to their rightful owners, when it is in your power, it is a demonstration of a seared conscience.

36. When you have no sense of moral obligation in respect to those habits of life, that have an influence upon your brethren, your family, the community in which you dwell, and upon the world at large, it is because your conscience is seared. For example--if you have no conscience on the subject of retiring to rest in due season, and rising in the morning also at such an hour as best consists with health--if you can habituate or allow yourself, on any occasion, without necessity, to sit up late at night and rise late in the morning--if you can have no system in this respect, no principle, no conscience about it--if these things are left without consideration or reflection, to the neglect and injury of your own health, the injury of your family, and of course to the injury of the Church and the world, your conscience must be seared with a hot iron. If you have no conscience in respect to observing these things, for your family's sake; and if you do not require them and all under your control to have system, principle and conscience upon these subjects, from which they will no more depart without imperative necessity than they would go without their necessary food, it is because your conscience is seared.[/i]






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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/21 8:36Profile
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 Re:

Great teaching, Robert. The cauterized conscience. Deadened nerves, spiritual pain receptors incapacitated. While reading, I couldn't help thinking that wounds are cauterized typically to stop bleeding. To keep blood in, to prevent outer flow and blood loss - the end of which being death. Could it also be that a sin-seared crust over the wounded conscience restricts a blood-washed confession (I John 1:9) from flowing out from the wound, leading, in turn, to a mortification of the flesh body and subsequent life in the spirit?

Something to chew on, anyhow. Thank you for engaging my thoughts this morning. Godbless youfor your time and heart in sharing these vital truths!

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2006/11/21 9:18Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
Could it also be that a sin-seared crust over the wounded conscience restricts a blood-washed confession (I John 1:9) from flowing out from the wound, leading, in turn, to a mortification of the flesh body and subsequent life in the spirit?



Great point Paul! I thought when I read your post how it's almost like the scripture likens the conscience to our skin. What happens when the skin is gone or as you say it gets cut or something? The skin protects us from the disease and germs, etc. of this world. Without skin we would die of infection.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/21 9:47Profile
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 Re:

[b]THE PURGING OF THE CONSCIENCE[/b]

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 3:21)

It is solumn to consider that those who lived prior to the cross of Christ lived lives that [i]through fear of death were all their lifetime subject unto bondage[/i] (Hebrews 2:15). It was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats could make those who came before the Lord perfect as pertaining to the conscience. So it seems that there was always this lingering 'fear' as it were. An apprehension caused by a conscience that would not rightly lie down because of sins that were past.

They needed their conscience purged from dead works to serve the Living God. Only the blood of Jesus Christ applied will make the conscience lie down in peace. It is the blood of Christ that was the price paid to remove the cause of the offense. What an awesome consideration! The conscience rejected the offerings of the blood of bulls and goats and even the ashes of the heifer (Hebrews 9:9). Only the shedding of His blood could ever take away sins. Yes, how [i]much more[/i] shall the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God purge your conscience to serve the Living God?

Before there was an imbalance in the scales of justice (as it were) and the conscience was right to point this out to the comers there unto. But, Christ [u]is[/u] the propitiation for our sins. Before there was a remembrance of sins made every year. But now, we have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the Righteous and He is the propitiation for our sins. No need to put off until the yearly sacrifice to get the conscience to turn loose its hold upon our minds, even if then it was but knocking the edge off. How much more? How much more shall the Blood of Christ resonate within the conscience as the [u]right[/u] price? The FULL price paid. No need to fear death- for the conscience can be purged clean of offense between us and God.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/21 13:47Profile
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 Re:

[b]THE CONSEQUENCE OF A CALLOUS CONSCIENCE[/b]

Paul asks the question in Romans, "Shall we sin that grace may abound? God Forbid!" The conscience plays a crucial role in keeping us sensitive to our attitude towards sinning. This is a great indicator of where we really are in terms of our surrender to His absolute Lordship. Can you easily imagine yourself disobeying God? How does the thought strike you? Finney takes up the question with a pointed pen and probes into our hearts. Here we read...

[i] When you can think of sin without horror, something as they would feel at such a thought in heaven, it is because your conscience is seared. How think you an angel would feel if the thought should come over his mind--to-day I shall sin against God? How would a saint in heaven feel under the same impression?

Why, it would come over all heaven like the shock of an earthquake. They would all stand aghast and grow pale, would hang up their harps, and wail out with pain at the thought that one of their inhabitants should sin against God.

Now what state of mind must that be when you can expect to sin without the deepest horror, without feeling a chill come over you and your blood almost coagulate in your veins. What, sin against God! Why, if the thought does not shock and agonize you, if the expectation that you shall sin does not seem even more terrible to you than death, where is your conscience--in what state of mind are you?

Have you any sympathy with heaven? No, indeed. And perhaps I might and ought to say that if you can think of sinning without the most excruciating agony, you are even more callous than they are in hell.[/i]




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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/21 13:57Profile
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 Re:

[b]THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CONSCIENCE[/b]

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (Romans 9:1)

Adam Clark when commenting on this verse writes: [i]This is one of the most solemn oaths any man can possibly take. He appeals to Christ as the searcher of hearts that he tells the truth; asserts that his conscience was free from all guile in this matter, and that the Holy Ghost bore him testimony that what he said was true. Hence we find that the testimony of a man's own conscience, and the testimony of the Holy Ghost, are [u]two distinct things[/u], and that the apostle had both at the same time.[/i]

As we have said previously the conscience is a judgment seat. The Holy Spirit was sent into the world to reprove the world of sin. One translation of John 16:8 reads, [i]And he, when he comes, will make the world conscious of sin, and of righteousness, and of being judged:[/i]. This is interesting as we view it in light of what Paul is saying in Romans 9:1. The Holy Spirit brings things to our remembrance that the Lord has said unto us (John 14). It would reason that He brings all things that we need brought to mind back to our minds as He wills. This is great support for the conscience. The conscience weighs what is before the mind and heart- but we tend to forget things. But Paul is saying here that even with that which the Holy Spirit has brought to mind- the conscience still affirms the sincerity in what he was saying.

This opens the discussion into the individual dealings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of a believer and the conscience's role in pressing those issues. There is a term that is sometimes used known as 'personal convictions'. These are beliefs or restrictions that a persons holds to individually that may not necessarily apply to everyone. The Holy Spirit often deals with us in our lives about things that He knows are going to present a problem down the road. This is why it is important to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. If you know you need to rid your life of things that some people admit- do it. Not everyone has to share your conviction, but you need to be obedient to what you feel the Lord is saying to you about these things. You conscience weighs in on these topics also to remind you to walk in what the Lord has shown you. There is a balance to this also as the enemy will often opress folk, but walking before the Lord and spending time with Him will keep these other influences to a minimum.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/11/22 9:56Profile
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 Re:

[b]COMMENDING OURSELVES TO THE CONSCIENCE OF MEN[/b]

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (II Corinthians 4:1, 2)

Implied in our passage is that every man’s conscience has the ability to recognize truth when it hears or ‘sees’ it. Paul makes a remarkable statement here. Not only is he saying that he lives a life in which his conscience is clear in his secret life, but when his deeds and teachings are weighed in the conscience of ‘every man’ they affirm that what he is saying is true and that his life matches that truth. Paul taught and preached so that every man's conscience would bear its testimony that what he proclaimed was the truth of God.

This is one characteristic of divine truth: every man's conscience will acknowledge it, though it speak decidedly against his/her own lifestyle. The apostles acted not like such persons as he describes (dishonest, crafty, deceitful, etc.), but they manifested the truth to every man's conscience, declaring nothing but what the hearer in their own conscience believed to be true. This served for the conviction of their own consciences who heard them. God gave man to judge for themselves, because they must give an account for themselves. Paul used this faculty in preaching.

It is a most sobering truth that our lives and our words are weighed in the conscience of those we encounter (Romans 2:15). It accuses or else excuses one another. Not only can we tell if our deeds and words are legit, but our conscience passes a sentence on everyone around us based upon what we believe to be God's will. Whether the person is 'liked' or 'disliked' is immaterial. This is a most simple form of discernment. The people we encounters’ conscience renders a judgment of our actions and words [i]automatically[/i] also. This is an involuntary reflex (it happens whether we want it to or not). This is because the conscience operates independent of our own will. We cannot summons it to make a ruling or influence it in any way. It weighs the evidence against what the person believes to be the will of God and renders an absolute ruling.



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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/12/4 8:49Profile





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