They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. – Romans 2:15
14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
Tyrants fear faith. Their greatest hatred is reserved for those forms of Christianity which teach people to obey conscience. And this is for good reason. Few world systems can stand the scrutiny of Biblical faith. Wherever scripture liberates minds, laws are transformed, and governments forced to yield or fall.
For example, in early centuries Christian tenacity compelled Galerius to issue his edict of tolerance ending the Diocletian persecutions. Quaker determination moved England to allow individuals to practice conscientious objection to war. Baptists are largely responsible for the adding of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.
Of all world systems, perhaps Communism has most reason to fear Christianity. Its atheism is diametrically opposed to faith, and Marxist tenets are in large measure nothing but pale imitations of Christian doctrine and eschatology. Communism fears conscience based upon faith.
In Russia on the 23rd of January 1918, the Bolsheviks issued a decree separating church and state. This was welcomed by evangelical Christians, who had suffered terribly under Orthodox persecution. Under Lenin, a certain amount of freedom was allotted to Christians. That changed after his death.
Teaching of religion in schools, private or public, was prohibited. The Soviet constitution favored atheism. Church buildings were confiscated by the state and rented back for sums beyond the ability of congregations to pay. House churches were outlawed. Bible printing became illegal. Preachers were denied ration cards. “You are nonproductive citizens,” they were told. If congregations wished to support their pastors, they first had to pay an exorbitant tax, greater than the minister’s salary. Poor people could not do this.
Christians who refused to obey these laws were sent to labor camps where many died. Every impediment to worship which could be contrived was introduced. In spite of this, pockets of faith survived. “Suffering is testimony to Jesus,” said the children of the King. And rather than pray that their sufferings be relieved, they prayed for strength to bear up under them (https://www.christianity.com).
What is the conscience?
Humanly speaking, a conscience is our inner sense of right and wrong. It either approves or disapproves actions or thoughts based upon the standard we have. If our standard is not in alignment with the Father’s, we can jump to wrong conclusions. What we deem to be right or wrong can be entirely skewed. One’s conscience can become “seared,” that is rendered ineffective, numb, and desensitized (1 Timothy 4:2).
The human conscience is like a judge. It adjudicates and both approves or disapproves. The outcome of its decisions are only as good as its standard of measure.
Many consider the inner voice they hear, to be the Father’s voice. Yet, is that not. This is a common misunderstanding.
It is possible that your conscience may condone what the Father does not condone. And, it is equally possible that your conscience may condemn you for what the Father does not. The Father alone has final judgment in all things. Therefore, Paul cautions each of the Father’s children.
1 Corinthians 4:5 So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
But when making decisions, it is wise to take our conscience into consideration. To reject the voice of your conscience is asking for trouble
1 Timothy 1:19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.
REFLECT & PRAY
The conscience does not “know” anything. It has no content within itself. Rather it assesses what we know or think we know about right and wrong, and then passes judgment: yay or nay.
Father encourage me to learn Your Truth, and exchange it for my “truth.” Help me to make wise and right decisions based upon Your standards and not my own.
“The conscience functions something like a computer. A computer is programmed to respond in specific ways to specific information. Also, it responds to information based on the commands it has been programmed to follow . . . The conscience is a responder as well. It responds to certain input just as it has been programmed” (Stanley).
Romans 2:15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
The Greek word translated conscience is suneidesis. Suneidesis comes from two other Greek words with, sun and to know, oida. It can be literally translated “a knowing with.” The conscience is like an inner judge (Hodges).
In Paul’s thinking, and is almost as though we have a split personality. It seems as if we are divided within ourselves. There are opposing forces inside our own minds. There is a constant arguing and debate going on within regarding moral conduct. They both evaluate the same thing, but from different perspectives. As a result, one condemns while the other condones.
The conscience operates based upon the light and truth that we have. We cannot reject the voice of conscience with impunity, but we can modify the highest standard to which it relates by gaining for ourselves a greater understanding of the truth” (Kruse). The more Truth we know from the word of God, the better informed our conscience will be. Consequently, we can make better decisions.