SPECIAL TOPIC: CONSCIENCE (suneidēsis)
There is not an OT counterpart to the Greek term "conscience," unless the Hebrew term "breast" implies a knowledge of self and its motives. Originally the Greek term referred to consciousness related to the five senses. It came to be used of the inner senses (cf. Rom. 2:15). Paul uses this term twice in his trials in Acts (i.e., Acts 23:1; 24:16). It refers to his sense that he had not knowingly violated any known religious duties toward God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:4).
Conscience is the developing understanding of believers’ motives and actions based on
1. a biblical worldview
2. the indwelling Spirit
3. a lifestyle knowledge based on the word of God.
A Christian conscience is made possible by the personal reception of the gospel
Paul uses the term "conscience" often in the Corinthian letters (cf. 1 Cor. 8:7,10,12; 10:25,27,28,29; 2 Cor. 1:12; 4:2; 5:11). It refers to that moral inner sense of what is appropriate or inappropriate (cf. Acts 23:1). The conscience can be affected by our past lives, our poor choices, or by the Spirit of God. It is not a flawless guide, but it does determine the boundaries of individual faith. Therefore, to violate our conscience, even if it is in error or weak, is a major faith problem.
The believer's conscience needs to be more and more formed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God (cf. 1 Tim. 3:9). God will judge believers by the light they have (i.e., weak or strong), but all of us need to be open to the Bible and the Spirit for more light and to be growing daily in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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