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THE WITNESS OF YOUR CONSCIENCE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 19, 2002


"Their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15).


Although I disagree with John MacArthur on the Blood of Christ and Lordship salvation, his definition of man's conscience is true. He calls the conscience,

That instinctive sense of right and wrong that produces guilt when violated. In addition to an innate awareness of God's law, men have a warning system that activates when they choose to ignore or disobey that law. Paul urges believers not to violate their own consciences or cause others to, because repeatedly ignoring the conscience's warnings desensitizes it and eventually silences it (MacArthur Study Bible, note on Romans 2:15).

This verse in Romans, chapter two tells us that even the heathen have consciences that tell them right from wrong. Yet we see a desensitizing of people's consciences in America today. Here is an illustration of that. Jack Paar was the host of "The Tonight Show" on NBC television before Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Paar walked off of the show in 1960, and subsequently left the show in 1962, because NBC executives edited out a joke using the term W.C., short for "Water Closet," meaning toilet in England. The Daily News said this was "a distasteful term for TV then" (Daily News, April 30, 2002, Entertainment Section, p. 5).

I watched the last few minutes of "The Tonight Show," with Jay Leno, a couple of weeks ago. Rodney Dangerfield came on for about five minutes at the end of the show. In those five minutes he told three jokes that would have gotten the entire program cancelled back in 1962. Back then, the words "W.C." were censored by the NBC executives. But today the gutter talk of comedian Rodney Dangerfield and others is not only tolerated, but encouraged. What has happened to America in the forty years since 1962? Our consciences have become desensitized to an ever-increasing amount of dirt on television. Filthy talk just doesn't bother the conscience of the average American today.

In this message I will point out four things about the human conscience.

I. First, man's conscience was given to him by God.

When God created man, He said:

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Genesis 1:26-27).

God created man to reflect His image. This is not said of any other form of life that God created. The Bible says:

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).

So, the material part of man was formed by God out of "the dust of the ground." The name "Adam" means "red clay" in Hebrew. Man did not "evolve" as evolutionists repeatedly tell us. He was created by God from the soil of the earth.

But then we are told in the Bible that the immaterial part of man (his soul and spirit) came directly from God,

"And [God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).

Part of the immaterial part, or spiritual, side of man is the conscience. Please turn to Proverbs, chapter twenty, verse twenty-seven:

"The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly" (Proverbs 20:27).

The first part of this verse shows us that the spirit of man was given to him by God as a "candle" or "lamp," to show him right and wrong. This is man's conscience, given by God to human beings alone.

II. Second, man's conscience was given to him to show him right and wrong.

The second half of Proverbs 20:27 tells us that:

"The spirit of man is the candle [or lamp] of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly [the innermost parts of his being]" (Proverbs 20:27).

Charles Ryrie points out that this refers to the conscience, "The conscience searches the inner part of man to convict of sin" (Ryrie Study Bible, note on Proverbs 20:27). The way we can tell if we are doing right or wrong is by the light of conscience, which searches our inward beings.

Please turn to II Samuel, chapter twenty-four. King David counted the number of the people. It was clear to David that God did not want him to number the people, but David did it anyway. This rebellion against God caused David's conscience to trouble him. Notice verse ten:

"And David's heart smote him [condemned him] after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant: for I have done very foolishly" (II Samuel 24:10).

David's "heart smote him." His conscience, which is sometimes called his "heart" here, condemned him, and caused him to repent. He saw how foolish he was to depend on numbers, rather than depending on God, when his conscience condemned him, or, as the KJV translates it, when his "heart smote him." He knew he was wrong when his conscience condemned him.

This is a good Biblical illustration of the purpose of your conscience. God has given you a conscience, to show you when you are wrong, and to show you what is right. God speaks to us about what is right and what is sinful through our consciences. But this is an unreliable test for an unconverted person.

III. Third, man's conscience is fallen, ruined by sin.

Sin ruined the human race and made the conscience unreliable. Our first parents rebelled against God and sinned. They ate the fruit that God had forbidden them to eat. When they rebelled against God and sinned, their innocence was gone, and they realized that they were naked. Please turn to Genesis, chapter three, verse seven:

"And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:7-8).

Their innocence was gone. They knew they were naked. Their consciences bothered them, and they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. But their consciences continued to trouble them, so they hid from God among the trees of the garden.

You will notice that even in their fallen, sinful state, their consciences were still working. But they were not working properly. They now had twisted, perverted consciences. That's why they foolishly tried to cover themselves with leaves, and tried to hide among the trees. Their consciences were still working, but they were not working right after sin came into the world, and man was ruined by the fall.

That's why you cannot rely on your conscience to tell you exactly what is right and wrong. It is true that even the heathen have consciences, "Their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15), but the witness of conscience in sinful man is darkened and blurred. You don't have a clear vision of what is right and wrong. Our first parents knew they were sinful, but they tried to hide and cover their sins because their consciences no longer worked correctly.

That's why you can't depend on your conscience. People often say, "I don't think it's a sin to miss church on Sunday once in a while." Their consciences do not bother them when they miss church. This shows that there is something wrong with their consciences. As a result of the fall of man, their consciences are no longer accurate.

Please turn to Ephesians, chapter four, verse eighteen:

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Ephesians 4:18-19).

Your understanding is darkened, and you are cut off from the life of God. Ignorance of God and morality are in you! This is a clear picture of an unconverted person today. Your conscience has been twisted and dulled by sin, causing you to be spiritually blind and "past feeling" - which means that your conscience doesn't bother you when it ought to.

People say, "I feel that this is right," or "I didn't feel I should do this." They are very likely to be wrong. The "feeling" they have in their conscience is unreliable, due to the ruined nature of mankind since the fall.

Please turn to Titus, chapter one, verse fifteen:

"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" (Titus 1:15).

The "pure" are those who have been purified by faith. The ones he speaks of have defiled minds, therefore the mind cannot accurately inform the conscience. Therefore, the conscience does not work correctly.

Jiminy Cricket told Pinocchio, "Let your conscience be your guide." But if your conscience is connected to a defiled and unbelieving mind, it will not be able to guide you correctly. Unconverted people who follow their conscience will end up in Hell.

IV. Fourth, man's conscience becomes increasingly seared with the passing of time.

The Bible tells us that people who speak lies will have "their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:2). Turn to I Timothy 4:2. The Greek word for "seared" is very strong. It is "kauteriazo." We get our English word "cauterize" from it, which means "to sear with a hot iron." Interestingly, that is exactly what the Greek word means in this verse. It means "to burn with a hot iron until rendered insensitive."

The more the conscience is seared with sin, the less sensitive it is. I once saw a man, in the sideshow of a circus, who could put red hot pieces of metal on his tongue. He had seared his tongue so many times that it could no longer feel the pain of heat. That's exactly what happens to your conscience. You sear it over and over and over by sinning. Finally, your conscience feels no pain at all when you sin. Your conscience has been "seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:2).

The great danger of continuing to sear your conscience is that you may very well commit the unpardonable sin in the process. Dr. Henry C. Thiessen gives this definition of the unpardonable sin:

The degree to which the soul has hardened itself and become unreceptive to multiplied offers of the grace of God here determines the degree of guilt. Final obduracy is the sin against the Holy Spirit and is unpardonable, because the soul through it has ceased to be receptive to the divine influence (Henry C. Thiessen, Ph.D., Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1949, p. 270).

When the conscience becomes so hardened that the Holy Spirit can no longer speak to it, the individual has committed the unpardonable sin.

The Bible tells us about the unpardonable sin in Mark 3:28-29. Please turn there in your Bible. Jesus said:

"Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemers wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation" (Mark 3:28-29).

You see, when you reject the work of the Holy Spirit over and over, your conscience becomes more and more seared. It becomes harder and harder for you to get saved and become a real Christian. That's why you need to be converted now, while you are still young. The older you get, the harder it will be for you to get converted.

Now, the main work of the Holy Spirit is to convict you of sin - in your conscience. The Bible says:

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin…Of sin, because they believe not on me" (John 16:8-9).

But if your conscience becomes too seared, you will no longer feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Some of you may already be in that hopeless state right now. It is then too late for you to be saved.

Dr. John R. Rice wrote a song which said:

Too late when is burned out my conscience,
Too late when my heart is like stone,
Too late if the Spirit forsakes me!
Too late when my life's breath is gone.
It is late, oh, so late! Yet He stands at the door,
And Jesus, Sweet Saviour, is calling once more.

("Too Long I Neglected" by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood so your sins could be washed away. Christ rose physically from the dead and was lifted up into the Third Heaven, where He is now seated on the right hand of God. Turn to Christ and be saved from the judgment of your sins. Turn to Jesus Christ and have your sins washed away by His Blood. Turn to Jesus Christ, and prove it by being here in this church every Sunday. "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!" And come to Christ before your conscience is too burned out to come under conviction!


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 3:22-30.:
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: :

"Have You Counted the Cost?" (by A. J. Hodge, 1923).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

THE OUTLINE OF

THE WITNESS OF YOUR CONSCIENCE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15).

I.   Man's conscience was given to him by God, Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7; Proverbs 20:27a.

II.  Man's conscience was given to him to show him right and wrong, Proverbs 20:27b; II Samuel 24:10.

III. Man's conscience is fallen, ruined by sin, Genesis 3:7-8; Ephesians 4:18-19; Titus 1:15.

IV.  Man's conscience becomes increasingly seared with the passing of time, I Timothy 4:2; Mark 3:28-29; John 16:8-9.