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Friday, November 21, 2014

Conscience Never Deceives?

"Too often reason deceives us... but conscience never deceives." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Sounds good but not true.

1 Corinthians 8:12   But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

Titus 1:15   Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

1 Timothy 4:2   Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

The conscience can be weak, defiled and even seared.  It can deceive and often does.  Conscience is the mechanism by which we determine what is right and wrong.  It is not infallible and is subject to influences.

Thus the danger of saying, "I don't see anything wrong with it".  That may be good or bad depending on what has been allowed to shape and influence our conscience.  Just because we don't see something wrong with it does not mean there is not something wrong with it.

Hebrews 5:12-14 throws some light on the subject when we read,  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Notice the phrase, "discern good and evil".  This is the essence of conscience.  Verse 14 makes reference to the "senses".  This is a word that has reference to an organ of perception; judgment.  Judgment of what?  Good and evil!  Our perception of good and evil must be exercised.  The word "exercise" is the idea of trained.  Not just random exercise but training our conscience to judge good and evil.

This passage is actually addressing those who do have their senses exercised to discern (judge) good and evil.  "Even those who by reason of use".  Use of what?  Not the use of the conscience!  It is in the using of something that the conscience (senses) are exercised to discern.  That which is used is the word of God.

The Holy Ghost was chastising the people for their weakness in the word of God.  He is lodging the complaint against them that they continue to have need of the milk of the word instead of the meat of the word.  Those who continue to use milk are unskilful or inexperienced.  Their conscience is inexperienced because it has not be exercised or trained to the word of God.  They are unskillful in discerning right from wrong.  It is those who have spent enough time in the word to digest the meat of the word that have their senses trained, they are not unskillful and consequently are more likely to be prepared to rightly discern both good and evil.

I say more likely because it is dependent upon the context in which we approaches our bible.  If we interpret the bible through the lens of cultural bias rather than interpreting the culture through the lens of the bible then it is possible to know a lot of bible and still be unskilled in discerning both evil and good.

So I would change Jean-Jacques Rousseau quote to read, Too often reason deceives us . . . but the word of God never deceives.
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