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About Doctrines

Conscience



The conscience is that part of us that provides an awareness of right and wrong. To the extent of any discussion of conscience in the Old Testament, this idea of testifying to right and wrong sums up the entire teaching (Gen 20:5-6; 1 Sam 24:5; 25:31; Job 27:6). The conscience, however, reflects the norm against which the person has been trained.

It is true that the moral argument for God presupposes some level of morals in line with God's holiness. For the Jews, the law should have been the statement of God's holiness so the conscience would testify to the norms or standards of the law. When the Gentiles perform acts in line with these norms, Paul is free to write that the law has been written on their hearts and their conscience bears testimony to these norms.

On the other hand, the inferences at the end of Romans 1 suggest that even those who have fallen to the depths of depravity may still feel the burning of the conscience. The indestructible moral nature of the conscience is tantamount to proof that God bears witness to Himself in our hearts. This allows the parallel to Paul's statements.

But, we must be careful to realize there are other teachings on the conscience within the New Testament. As we indicated, the conscience bears witness to some existing norm. The Scriptures teach that the conscience may

The combination of these things must lead one to conclude that the judgments of the conscience may not always be accurate. Being too sensitive or not sensitive enough distorts the validity of the testimony. Then, when we judge others or ourselves, our judgments are false. It should also be remembered that the examples of Scripture strongly suggest the conscience provides testimony to actions already committed, not ones in the future. The teaching of Scripture is "iffy" at best on the ability of the conscience to express a preference between choices of future actions. The conscience is not a good guide.

 

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