A Clear Conscience
Romans 9:1 (ESV) – I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
Have you ever done something that your conscience immediately convicted you of? That is a common experience for all people in the world because we are made with God’s law written on our hearts. This “prosecutor” lives within us, affirming us when we’re in the right and convicting us when we’re in the wrong. It could be a word spoken in anger. It could be a lustful glance at someone. Perhaps you’ve found yourself envious of someone else’s success or glad at their downfall. The conscience helps us to gauge our actions.
We see this issue emerge in our text today. The apostle Paul is writing to believers in Rome. He is talking about the covenant of grace God has made with Jews and Gentiles through Christ. He writes in Romans 9:1, “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—”
Paul emphatically remarks that he speaks the truth in Christ. He testifies that his words are of God. He even assures them that he is not lying. These are not deceptive words, spoken to simply get a response or action in return. His words are in accordance with the truth. But then he says his conscience confirms through the Holy Spirit that these words are spoken with truth and sincerity.
Some theologians believe Paul’s statement is the equivalent of making an oath. He is swearing by Christ that these things are true. Regardless of that fact, it is true to recognize that this internal conscience is a confirmation of the presence of Christ in us. He is indeed with us always. The conscience is the place where the Holy Spirit can help us to walk in the truth and continue in actions that please God.
Learn to listen to and obey your conscience. Be sure that you don’t deceive yourself by thinking your conscience will go in violation of Scripture. It will not. But we are very skilled at finding ways to minimize our consciences so we can violate them. We tell lies to ourselves that some sin isn’t that bad.
"We try to convince ourselves that our feelings of guilt are self-imposed, not from God. These things get chalked up as tradition or legalism in our spirits instead of God’s Word written on our hearts. Be careful to not fall into this trap."
Walk in the truth. Your conscience will help you do so.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why should the Scriptures also be a guide as we discuss the conscience?
- How does the conscience serve its role? How did it become this way?
- What lessons are you taking away from today’s passage or devotion?
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