Conscience: The Forgotten Evil


Heb 10:21-22 . . Having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.

Sprinkling was a common ritual in the Old Testament— sometimes with water, sometimes with oil, and sometimes with blood —for example: Ex 29:16, Ex 29:21, Lev 14:7, Lev 14 16, and Num 8:7, et al.

Sprinkling typically serves to de-contaminate someone or some thing in order to make it suitable for God's purposes.

Heb 9:13-14 . . For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

Basically; one's conscience is sort of like a moral compass, i.e. it provides people with a sense of right, wrong, fairness, and justice. The conscience not only provides people with some guidance in those areas, but it has the rather annoying propensity to sit in judgment on its owner.

Rom 2:14-15 . . For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending themselves.

In it's current condition; the human conscience is unacceptable, and that's because of its source. We have to go all the way back to the beginning for that.

Gen 3:5 . . God knows well that when you eat of [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.

Was the Serpent's prediction true? Yes; to a certain extent.

Gen 3:22 . .Then the Lord God said: See. The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

In other words; the Serpent neglected to inform Eve that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has a side effect that alters people's conscience. But is the alteration an acceptable substitute for the people's original conscience; the one that came with them when they were created?

No, because now people are "like one of us" i.e. like supreme beings.

Ps 82:6 . .I said: You are gods

Along with their ill-gotten supremacy as beings came their ill-gotten supremacy in matters of right, wrong, fairness, and justice. In other words; the current condition of the human conscience is unacceptable because it was obtained by eating the fruit of a tree known to be unsuitable for human consumption. As a result; the current condition of the human conscience is diseased; hence the need to sprinkle it, so to speak, with Jesus' blood.

The sprinkling doesn't cure a human's diseased conscience. The sprinkling is actually for God's sake, i.e. it makes the human sense of right, wrong, fairness, and justice tolerable for God to endure whenever somebody approaches Him in prayer and/or worship. I don't think many fully appreciate that the human conscience is just as repulsive to God as a case of full-blown leprosy is to us.

Anyway; in the Old Testament, it was necessary to sanitize the people's conscience each and every time they approached God; which back then meant either the Tabernacle or the Temple.

Heb 10:1-4 . . For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. (Yom Kippur)

But a sprinkling of Jesus' blood is necessary only once, and it's adequate for all time. (Heb 7:27. Heb 10:10)

Christ's followers retain a guilty conscience; else the passage below would be unnecessary.

1John 1:8-10 . . If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.

It appears to me that Christ's followers have two consciences: there's the conscience they obtained via their natural birth, and there's the conscience they obtained via the Spirit birth about which Christ spoke at John 3:3-12. The "born again" conscience i.e. the new man's conscience, is of course totally free of guilt.

1John 3:9 . .No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

One morning in Sunday school class several years ago, a man asked our speaker about the status of unconfessed sins? Do they follow us into the afterlife?

Unfortunately the speaker ignored the man's question and continued with his lesson plan. But later at home I pondered that man's inquiry because it seemed to me something very important to think about.

Well; as it turns out, the old man and the new man don't share a common conscience. By means of a mysterious procedure performed by the power of God, the new man is its own person distinctly separate from the old man.

Col 2:11 . . In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.

So then, I think we can safely assume that when his followers' body of the flesh passes away, their natural-born conscience passes away right along with it, and they go into eternity with only their Spirit-born conscience, which of course is not responsible for the old man's sins. Neato!