The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Conscience
It Can Be the Voice of God
The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.
What is meant by “the lamp of the Lord"? There are two answers. First, it refers to human conscience, which “searches out” a man’s motive, helping discern between good and evil. God has placed the light of conscience inside every heart. Romans 2:15 explains that the conscience, informed by the innate laws of God, sometimes accuses a person and sometimes excuses him. That means God has written on the heart of every man a basic moral code. That code is similar to the things contained in the Ten Commandments. This universal moral code consists of things like “Do not steal,” “Do not cheat,” “Tell the truth,” “Honor your parents,” “Keep your word,” “Help the poor,” “Do not kill,” and so on. It would be hard to find a culture anywhere in the world where those moral values are not honored. God gives us a conscience so that we will live up to the moral values common to all mankind.
There is an ancient tale about a court magician who wanted to give his king a very special gift. After much work, he designed a magic ring which had a very special property. Every time the king had an evil thought or an unworthy ambition, the ring began to shrink tightly around his finger, thus warning him of impending danger.
The human conscience is like that. It is a ring around the heart that tightens every time we begin to violate our own standards. It warns of impending danger. We disregard our conscience at our own peril.
From the New Testament perspective, the “lamp of the Lord” also refers to the Holy Spirit, who, like a bright lamp, goes from one “room” of the heart to another, searching out those things that even conscience cannot discover. After all, a man may have a “seared conscience” and be a moral sociopath, totally unable to know right from wrong. Conscience is a good guide, but it is not infallible. The Holy Spirit sees and knows every thought and intent of the heart (see Hebrews 4:13). Nothing is hidden from Him. Like a blazing light, the Spirit of God exposes everything, sees everything, and drags the deepest secrets out of the closet and exposes them to the light of God. Proverbs 5:21 speaks of the same truth: “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” To that we might add Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”
This truth is both comforting and terrifying. To those who have nothing to hide, the lamp of the Lord holds no fear; but to those who have many “hidden things,” the lamp of the Lord brings them all to the light sooner or later.
How should we then live? First, we should pay attention to our conscience, for it can keep us out of trouble. Second, since the Holy Spirit constantly searches our inmost being, let us live openly and honestly, hiding nothing. Then we will have nothing to fear.
Holy Spirit, search me, cleanse me, move within me until nothing is hidden and all things are laid bare before You. Amen.
How is the human conscience “the voice of God” to the soul? How does a conscience become “seared"?
Under what circumstances should we disregard our own conscience?
How can you become more responsive to the work of the Holy Spirit in your own life?
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