An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 6 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 63 of 270
The following definition is given in Dr.
Bullinger's Greek Lexicon.
'Conscience, suneidesis, a knowing with one's self, consciousness; the
being one's own witness; the testimony to one's own conduct borne by
consciousness, esp. the consciousness man has of himself in his
relation to God, manifesting itself in the form of a self-testimony.
Consequently it is the effect and result of faith, for a man's
conscience will never condemn that which he believes to be right, and
vice versa: hence the only conscience worth having is that which
springs from "A Faith Unfeigned"' (1 Tim. 1:5).
It must be remembered that we can have a 'good conscience' or we may
have an 'evil conscience'.  We may have a 'pure conscience', or we may have a
'conscience seared with a hot iron'.  A conscience may be 'weak' or it can be
'defiled'.  One of the evidences of the failure of the law as an instrument
of salvation is that it did not touch the conscience (Heb. 9:9; 10:1,2).
Where no ray of light from the revealed will of God in the Scriptures has
penetrated, there remains the testimony of creation (Rom. 1:19 -25) and
conscience (Rom. 2:15).  In the argument of Romans 2 the apostle appears to
charge the Jew with the same sins that are laid to the charge of the Gentile.
The Jew was strong in his judgment of those who practised the evils detailed
in chapter 1.  He vitiated his judgment, however, by doing the very same
things.  One might be justified in raising the question here.  Did the Jew
actually repeat the shocking crimes and immoralities of the heathen world?
and the answer would be, the language of the apostle does not necessarily
mean that.  He purposely uses two words in Romans 2:3.  The Gentile
'practised' certain sins.  The Jew 'did' the same when he broke the law given
to him by God, even though in actual details there was no likeness between
the acts.  The Gentile transgressed against the law of conscience and the
evidence of creation; the Jew transgressed against the law of Sinai and the
evidence of God's goodness, forbearance, and long -suffering.  The whole
matter resolved itself into a question of proportion or relativity.  For this
the Jew was not prepared.  His method of comparison gave him a false
security.  God's method levelled all mankind in the dust.
If we dismiss Romans 2:7 as impossible because of
the teaching of Romans 3, it is possible we shall be perpetuating the false
judgment of the Jew, who could see nothing outside the circle of 'the law'.
We read the staid dictum of a Rabbi that 'God Himself is bound by the law,
that the law is eternal, that the Holy One Himself wears phylacteries in its
honour', etc., with a certain patronizing smile, yet we do precisely the same
with the gospel, and as violently condemn as heresy anything that says
otherwise.  Two features of judgment are here pressed upon the Jew:
'There is no respect of persons with God' (Rom. 2:11).
'God shall judge the "secrets" of men by Jesus Christ according
to my gospel' (Rom. 2:16).
An important 'if'.  The first feature robbed the Jew of any idea of
favour.  The second opened up possibilities that were revolutionary.  Tyre
and Sidon did not repent.  This is an historic fact.  Tyre and Sidon would
have repented if ... ! (see Matt. 11:21).  That is the judgment of One Who
knows the 'thoughts and intents of the heart', Who 'tries the heart and the
reins', Who can absolutely adjust inner desire to outer performance, Who may
see triumph where others see disaster, and failure where others see success.
If we would but take the Scriptural advice of Ecclesiastes, supplemented by