The Conscience.

The Conscience.

Strong’s defines the word ‘suneidesis’ as moral consciousness, or co-perception. Wikipedia defines it as “an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong.” It is that which provides an internal conviction that one is right or wrong. Those who brought before Jesus the issue of a woman caught in adultery, were each one convicted in their consciences that they were also complicit with her (Jn. 8:9). Some are in fact guilty of desensitizing their consciences-“seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:2). They have defiled themselves (Titus 1:15). On the other hand, Paul testified before the Sanhedrin council that he had “lived in all good conscience before God” (Acts 23:1). We, like Paul, must always “strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16 Cf. Rom. 9:1; 13:5; II Cor. 1:12; 4:2; 5:11; I Tim. 1:5; 3:9; II Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18; I Pet. 2:19; 3:16). Christ alone can purge our consciences “from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14; 10:22).

The conscience is also intimately related to the heart. Paul in fact appealed to this relationship, in his apologetic approach in his letter to Romans. Speaking of Gentiles he wrote that they “show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (2:15 I Tim. 1:19; Heb. 9:9; 10:2). On the other hand, those who are “weak” in the faith, do not have a solid or deep understanding of the word, so their consciences are bound by manmade traditions of prohibition (I Cor. 8:7, 10). On the other hand, the strong have a clear conscience, in this case over the question of food that may have been offered to an idol, because they have a better, more thorough, and deeper understanding of the word (I Cor. 10:25, 27-28). The conscience of the weak should not bind that of the strong (I Cor. 10:29). We have “(the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 3:21). This is our justification.

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