The Coddling of the American Christian, part 3
God’s love in removing our shame and guilt was the subject of our previous conversation.
This lesson investigates the “residence” of shame and guilt: the conscience.
The conscience, in the Bible, is shown to be (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/conscience/):
- A God-given capacity for human beings to exercise self-critique. 1 Corinthians 4:4
4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
- A witness to something. The Conscience witnesses to the internal value systems the person understands as right and wrong. Romans 2:14-15
14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.
- The conscience monitors and serves the value system. 1 Corinthians 8 and 10
In this lesson we will only look at types of conscience specifically mentioned in the New Testament.
- An evil conscience. Hebrews 10:22
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Evil (wicked, bad) (4190)(poneros) from poneo = work or toil, Robertson says the idea is that labor is an annoyance, bad, evil; Noun poneria derived from poneros) means evil including evil, malignant character, pernicious (see Webster 1828 definition below), that which is morally or socially worthless, wicked, base, bad, degenerate. Poneros denotes determined, aggressive, and fervent evil that actively opposes what is good. Poneros is not just bad in character (like kakos – see below), but bad in effect (injurious)! Poneros describes evil in active opposition to good. It means not only evil in its nature but viciously evil in its influence and actively harmful. Poneros used to describe Satan (ho poneros = “Evil one”), the god of this age, who is corrupting man and dragging him to destruction. This denotes someone who is not content in being corrupt themselves. They seek to corrupt others and draw them into the same destruction! What a horrid description of a conscience! https://www.preceptaustin.org/hebrews_1022-23
- A seared Conscience. 1 Timothy 4:2
2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…
Such a conscience exists in a mind that will practice delusion without concern; that will carry on a vast system of fraud without wincing; that will incarcerate, scourge, or burn the innocent without compassion; and that will practice gross enormities, and indulge in sensual gratifications under the mask of piety. Barnes Notes – https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_timothy/4-2.htm
- A weak conscience. 1 Corinthians 8:10
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eatingin an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible
…shall not the conscience of him that is weak; in knowledge, who is not clearly instructed in the doctrine of Christian liberty, but has some doubts upon his mind whether it is lawful to eat such meats, imagining them to be polluted by the idol: “be emboldened”; Greek for “edified”; that is, induced by such an example, and confirmed by such an instance with boldness, and without fear, to eat those things which are offered to idols, contrary to his light, and knowledge, and conscience; and so upon a reflection on what he has done, wound his weak conscience, destroy his peace, and distress his soul. This the apostle proposes to the consideration of these men of knowledge and liberty, as what might be the case, and which they could not well deny, to dissuade them from the use of their liberty, in all places and times, and under all circumstances; all which ought to be seriously weighed and attended to in this business. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/8-10.htm
- A purified (purged, cleansed) conscience.
14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
purge—purify from fear, guilt, alienation from Him, and selfishness, the source of dead works (Heb 9:22, 23). https://biblehub.com/commentaries/hebrews/9-14.htm
- A clear conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9
9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9
Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible
in a pure conscience; with a conscience sprinkled by the blood of Christ; with a conscience void of offence both towards God and man; with a suitable life and conversation; a conversation becoming the Gospel of Christ, and by which it is adorned: and this part of their character is necessary, that such may be able to instruct and establish those who are weak in the faith, and oppose and refute the erroneous, and also recommend the Gospel by their own example; otherwise should their principles or practices be bad, their influence on others might be very pernicious and fatal.
- A good conscience. 1 Peter 3:16
16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Barnes Notes on the Bible
Having a good conscience – That is, a conscience that does not accuse you of having done wrong. Whatever may be the accusations of your enemies, so live that you may be at all times conscious of uprightness. Whatever you suffer, see that you do not suffer the pangs inflicted by a guilty conscience, the anguish of remorse. On the meaning of the word “conscience,” see the notes at Romans 2:15. The word properly means the judgment of the mind respecting right and wrong; or the judgment which the mind passes on the immorality of its own actions, when it instantly approves or condemns them. There is always a feeling of obligation connected with operations of conscience, which precedes, attends, and follows our actions. “Conscience is first occupied in ascertaining our duty, before we proceed to action; then in judging of our actions when performed.” A “good conscience” implies two things:
(1) That it be properly enlightened to know what is right and wrong, or that it be not under the dominion of ignorance, superstition, or fanaticism, prompting us to do what would be a violation of the divine law; and,
(2) that its dictates must always be obeyed.
Today, determine to join the Apostle Paul’s motivation. Acts 24:16
16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man; that is, to discharge every duty which God requires, and to give to every man what is due to him; so as to please God, and not offend men, neither Jew nor Gentile, nor the church of God; and so as that conscience may be clear of guilt, and may not be defiled with sin, being purged and purified by the blood of Christ https://biblehub.com/commentaries/acts/24-16.htm
Since conscience monitors and serves the value system, it is wise to shape and guard the development of your value system.
Since conscience monitors and serves the value system, it is wise to shape and guard the development of your conscience.