“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” (Romans 2:14-15)
In “Guilty Conscience,” a rap video that was nominated for a Grammy award, music artists Eminem and Dr. Dre play the bad and good conscience of three people who are about to commit crimes. The “good” conscience wins over the first person, and the “bad” conscience defeats him in the second. However, in the third person, they agree that the evil desire is morally right. If you can handle the violence and rapping, it’s an excellent commentary on our world today. What is biblically sound is seen as restrictive and outmoded, while that which is evil is called good and acceptable. The video highlights the workings of the conscience, that part of our minds that evaluates our desires, choices, opinions, and actions.
Here is another way that God gives us wisdom: he puts it in the conscience. God gave every person a conscience when he created us. Thus, he gave us the ability and the necessity of judging our desires, choices, opinions, and actions as either good or bad. This is the highest wisdom of the world-knowing what is right and what is wrong, what is evil and what is right and God has given this knowledge to everyone. The existence of our conscience is well-documented in Scripture.
However, our conscience is subject to our belief systems, and thus it can be corrupted. My conscience has been sinful from the time I was born and is being continually ruined by the world, the devil, and my polluted flesh. But Paul teaches us that even in its corrupted state, the conscience is an instrument to determine right from wrong, and therefore, an instrument of wisdom or foolishness (Romans 2:14-15). Paul states that his “conscience bears witness” in Romans 2 and Romans 9:1. Believers who submit to Christ, under the Word of God, can conform their conscience to God’s standard of goodness and evil, with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is biblical wisdom.
Martin Luther was unwilling to recant his position on his ninety-five thesis and published doctrines when instructed to do so unless his conscience would allow him. He said, “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning- unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted-and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience.” Paul wrote, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (1 Corinthians 1:12)
Will this be your testimony?