All mankind is ultimately governed by the conscience which tells us that lying, murder and adultery are wrong.
Romans 2:14-15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Every child born into the human race knows he has done wrong when he steals, or lies. However after the time of the Patriarchs there came a time when God felt it was necessary to add a written account defining sin because men had conditioned themselves to ignore their conscience, i.e. “harden their hearts.”
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Galatians 3:19
The Law was added until Christ came. Once Christ came, it was God’s purpose to return to the former way of allowing men be ruled and judged by their conscience rather than by the letter of the law, so that they could decide for themselves whether they would serve Christ. God is not pleased with an outward conforming to the letter of the law, rather God desires an inward obedience motivated by love for Him and others moved from with in by a good conscience.
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 1 Timothy 1:5
1 John 3:20-21 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.
The Conscience at Work in the New Testament.
Below are examples of the conscience at work in the New Testament. The conscience, will at times justify us. At other times it may convict our hearts, that we need to repent, and for others it will be used as evidence to convict him in the judgment.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
“Intents” in the Greek literally means “Moral Understanding;” and “the Heart literally means “thoughts and feelings!”
Herod, for beheading John the Baptist
Matthew 14:2; Luke 9:7
Peter, after denying the Lord
Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:62
Judas, after betraying the Lord
The accusers of the woman taken in adultery
The Holy Spirit works through the conscience.
Pilate During the Trial and Crucifixion
Luke 23:14; John 18:38, John 19:4; John 19:8; John 19:19-22
The Roman Soldier
3000 added to the church on the Day of Pentecost because their conscience was convicted.
Peter could not go against His conscience
Agrippa When Hearing Paul
Martin Luther Before the Diet of Worms
The Catholic Church threatened Martin Luther with excommunication (and death) if he did not recant. Martin Luther’s reply was, “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me! Amen!”
1Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:26-27
God’s Love in Our Hearts
Mark 12:30, 33
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. See also Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
2 Thessalonians 3:5
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
1 Peter 1:22
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
The New Covenant is God’s promise:
- to renew the conscience making it soft;
- to renew the heart with a desire to do right;
- to renew the mind with wisdom to understand right from wrong;
- to allow men the liberty of conscience to choose right, not motivated by fear of judgment, against the letter of the law; but by a heart longing to be like Christ motivated by love!
Every aspect of the New Covenant being fulfilled with in us, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit working upon our hearts.
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2