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Note our text from the gospel of John,
- “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:9 – NKJV)
There are, as one writer has noted, 32 occurrences of the word “conscience” in the New Testament. This here, in our text, is the first occurrence. Here we note that Jesus’ words had caused the crowd to be “convicted by their conscience,” and instead of carrying out the stoning of a woman accused of adultery, they dispersed and He “was left alone” with her.
The “conscience” . . . . just what is the “conscience?” The dictionary defines it as, “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.” Hmmmmmm . . . . “the inner sense!” Maybe so! That “inner sense” that guides us in determining a “right action” when we are faced with the necessity to make a decision. After Jesus spoke, those who made up the crowd were “convicted by their conscience” to do what they should have done . . . they “went out one by one.” Their “inner sense” had told them that their original “conduct or motives” were wrong.
The “conscience” can be a good guide for us, but it behooves us to understand that God’s Word also says the “conscience” may not always be found to be reliable, or maybe better said, trustworthy. The Bible speaks of some who have,
- A weak conscience (I Corinthians 8:7, 10, 12)
- A defiled conscience (Titus 1:15)
- A seared conscience (I Timothy 4:2)
- An evil conscience (Hebrews 10:220
In this list we see a progression regarding the “conscience.” A weak “conscience” can become a defiled “conscience” that can ultimately become a seared “conscience” which then becomes an evil “conscience.” And this type of “conscience” can have devastating effects upon a person and, for that matter, upon those around him or her. If a person’s “conscience” has become seared it then fails to “sense” the right. It then allows for one to justify evil instead of what is good.
But Scripture tells us also that there is,
- A pure conscience (I Timothy 3:9; II Timothy 1:3)
- A good conscience (Acts 23:1; I Timothy 1:5, 19; Hebrews 13:18; I Peter 3:16, 21).
How is this “conscience” acquired? Dr. Henry Morris writes,
- “The answer to this vial question appears to be found in the apostle Paul’s testimony before Felix: ‘And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men’ (Acts 24:16 – KJV). The ‘exercise’ (literally, ‘training’) which had produced such a conscience in Paul, he said, was this: ‘So worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets’ (Acts 24:14 – KJV). A lifelong study of the Scriptures, accompanied by absolute faith in their veracity and authority, had produced in Paul a strong, pure, good, reliable conscience.”
Ah yes! And so brethren will the Scriptures do for us also! Reading and studying them will produce in us a good “conscience,” a pure “conscience.” And oh how essential it is to have this sort of “conscience” . . . . . . lets say, a biblical “conscience.” A biblical “conscience,” that we may be, as the dictionary defines it, “impelled . . . to right action.”
Have a good day . . . . and as you walk be aware that you have a conscience and earnestly seek to have it trained by the Word of God.
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