Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Conscience

The conscience is a faculty within the human mind. Faculty is, in turn, an inborn ability or power - sometimes called a gift. Other human faculties are reason, memory, perception, will, intuition, and imagination., and several others. The human psyche is as deep as the oceans and as unknown!
Hebrews 2:6b "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:"
These faculties are gifts that God did by the works of his hands mentioned above. Mankind is somewhere between angels and animals. We have a little of both in us. Animals have some of the same faculties that men have, such as memory and perception but they don't have a conscience.

The conscience is what man uses to evaluate. Man's conscience is a gage which is used for judgment. In order to gage moral values, there must be a frame of reference for comparison purposes. Reason is the process used to evaluate morality, so all human faculties complement each other. For instance, perception is the capacity to understand. The mind takes in information, and then processes it for various uses, usually to make decisions.

The ability to make decisions is the human will. It is either in harmony with God's will or our own. It's not Satan's will that we do, but our own. Satan merely influences. He uses temptation to temper our reason. Temptation is only an input to our mind. Our faculty of imagination turns temptation into sin. When people sin, they take the temptation, embellish it with the imagination, and then enjoy the fantasy. At that point sin occurs in the mind, and that sin is lust.

Once lust has manifested itself, reason says, let's do it for it is the pleasurable thing to do.

However, before temptation gets as far as lust, the mind evaluates all the inputs. That is mankind's faculty of reason. In each person, other than the reprobate, is a moral compass: Shall I, or shall I not? That process of our mind is our conscience. Paul spoke of that to the Romans:
Romans 9:1 "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart."
The gauge Paul used for his moral evaluation was God. He says that my conscience bears witness to the Holy Ghost. His decision was to be on harmony with God, and as such, he did God's will, not his will. Paul had the ability to do that because his moral compass dwelt inside him. Paul was imbued with the Holy Ghost. He had the spirit of Jesus Christ living in him. 
1 Corinthians 6:19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
 Paul even speaks of the faculty of emotion: I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

Of course, the material heart is only an organ, but emotions are related to the heart because it's beat announces what people feel. As such, the heart is the annunciator  of our emotions. Our conscience is guided by our feelings: heaviness and sorrow, in Paul's case. Our emotions are an outcome of our conscience. Those who have hardened hearts don't have the Holy Ghost within them. Because Jesus doesn't live there, they sin without remorse.

That heaviness and sorrow for disparity with moral values is guilt. Too much can even lead to depression and physical sickness. In order to be both morally and physically healthy, Christians must be in harmony with God's will. As such, sin makes people spiritually, emotionally, and physically sick!

Mankind's will is freedom to use our faculties. That is called free will.  Our inborn nature is to sin because of Satan's deception. Our spiritual nature is the desire to do the will of God - only if we are born-again. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Each temptation is a contest: who influences us the most - God or Satan? With sin, Satan smiles and God cries. With sin, it is written in God's book. When the conscience feels the pressure of guilt, sorrow ensues, and that leads to repentance. Then that sin is blotted out!

When the conscience is apathetic, it fails us. We are so used to Satan's standard with its pleasure that we neglect God's standard. Satan's standard is love of self, according to his law of sin, and God's standard is to love him and others, according to the law of God.  Our conscience sends out those signals: heaviness and sorrow.

To be healed of a guilty conscience, people must first realize that they are guilty. That recognition is when God convicts us of our sin. His Holy Word is the standard which convicts us. Those standards are clear, enduring, and fair. They are the Ten Commandments. Those ten standards are so people are without excuse. They are our moral compass, and if done for the right reasons, represent love of God and others.

All the faculties are what makes men a little lower than angels, but a little higher than animals. We shouldn't even be classified as animals because our nature is one level higher. We are humans who sometimes function like animals because of sin. It seems that when mankind devolved with the onset of sin, that animals did too. It seems that we devolved to even less than the animals because their devolution was one of instinct, whereas ours was one of conscience.

When we are born-again, the creature is changed if it is a change made with efficacy. The conscience is restored because we have had it cauterized with repeated sin:
1 Timothy 4:2 "Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
That too is called a hardened heart because our conscience fails to use its moral compass. People without conscience sin without remorse. The Holy Ghost checks us through our conscience, but he must be in us. The soul can't be so full of filth and lucre that God is not within us. Repentance cleanses the soul and provides God a temple.

People are reprobate or "damned" when their conscience is out of whack to the extent that they reject Jesus by living lives of sin without remorse. Sin is so pleasurable that the even when conviction comes about, a guilty conscience is so out of tune with God that repentance never occurs.

I fail miserably sometimes and you may as well. Because my conscience is so out of whack, I sometimes sin passively because it becomes routine. I am spiritually sick when my conscience goes on sabbatical, and I know that I am sick when I don't have great heaviness and sorrow inside. My emotions are dysfunctional when sin becomes too passive. I have prayed before: God, allow me to cry because my soul needs to feel something!  I feel relieved when God allows me to cry in sorrow for my sins. That means my conscience is still working. My power to feel has been restored. That all is a gift of God, and is grace available to all because of his mercy!

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