Romans 14:10-12 - Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Ministers today may refer frequently to the evidences of God's judgment in our world—there are so many of them—but there is little danger that they will preach too much about the wrath of God and His final judgment. Yet, as the apostle Paul tells us, "We will all stand before the judgment seat of God."
Every human being is born with a conscience. We know distinctions between good and evil without being told. If the voice of conscience is ignored, however, it can become very weak or nearly still. In fact, with persistent wrongdoing and by stifling the inner monitor of what we know to be right and wrong, the conscience can be seared, burnt to the point of malfunction through misuse (see 1 Timothy 4:1-2).
As God's Law convicts us of our sin, so do our consciences confirm the verdict. But that is not the end of the matter for us. More than an unsettling voice within, our conscience is a gift. With stunning clarity, it reveals our attempts to hide our sins and exposes us to God's righteous judgment, and (thanks be to God!)—it reveals our need for the mercy He offers you and me in His Son Jesus Christ.
We are sinners through and through. King David, among countless others, knew this to be true: "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:3-5).
The apostle Paul felt the pricks of his conscience as he wrestled with doing right and wrong. Like David before him, Paul understood his human condition before God. "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing" (Romans 7:18-19).
Paul's finely tuned conscience was a blessing; it informed his ministry and gave integrity to his message. "So I find it to be a law that when I do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the Law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the Law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Romans 7:21-25).
THE PRAYER: Holy Spirit, use my conscience to guide my actions as I seek to serve Jesus with my whole being. In His Name I pray. Amen.
From "Living with One's Conscience," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Armin Oldsen, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Is your conscience a reliable "guide" in questionable situations?
2. Can you identify with Paul wanting to do good but still messing up anyway?
3. Is there a way to train your conscience to be more Christ-like in your decision-making?
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