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Don Stewart :: How Does the Human Conscience Reveal God?

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Don Stewart

Everyone has a conscience. Our conscience gives us an awareness of what is right and what and wrong. The Bible also says that God has revealed Himself to each person through his or her conscience. Paul wrote.

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although, not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them (Romans 2:14,15).

These verses show that the Lord has placed knowledge of Himself within the heart of each human being. Humanity knows intuitively the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. Furthermore, they know from their conscience that they will ultimately be held responsible for their behavior.

Both Jews And Gentiles Receive God's Truth Through The Conscience

Scripture says that both Jews and Gentiles will be held responsible for what they know. The Jews, who have received the written Word of God, will be judged accordingly. The Gentiles, however, have not been given a written Word from God. They will be judged on a different standard. Their judgment will be based upon an unwritten law-that which is written on their hearts. Their own conscience will act like a prosecuting attorney. It will make it clear they are guilty before God because of their sin. Therefore all are without excuse.

Therefore, the human conscience gives testimony to a God's existence.

The Conscience Is An Insufficient Testimony

While conscience testifies to God's existence, it is insufficient for a couple of reasons. They include the following.

The Conscience Does Not Provide Any Personal Knowledge Of God

Although conscience indicates the existence of God, it does not provide any personal knowledge of Him. There is no specific testimony as to which God exists or how we can know Him. Again, the identity of God is not revealed.

The Conscience Is A Fallible Witness

Second, our conscience is fallible because it has been corrupted by sin. The Bible speaks of the conscience of humans as being weak. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled (1 Corinthians 8:7).

Paul also spoke of consciences that were seared.

Through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2).

Because the human conscience has been marred by sin people seek others ways to worship God that God does not accept. They build temples, shrines, and worship idols in an attempt to please God. Yet there efforts do not glorify God. Paul wrote.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (Romans 1:21-23).

Only Jesus Christ Can Cleanse The Conscience

Until a person comes to knowledge of Jesus Christ, their conscience will be an insufficient guide to truth about God. Our conscience needs to be cleansed from sin. The writer to the Hebrews stated.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death (Hebrews 9:14).

In another place he wrote.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).

To the church at Corinth Paul wrote.

We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:2).

Church Leaders Need A Clear Conscience

Paul said the following about qualifications of church leaders.

They must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience (1 Timothy 3:9).

When a person comes to Jesus Christ, their conscience can function as it was originally created. Otherwise the conscience cannot correctly lead them to worship the true God.

Only Humans Are Made In The Image Of God

Only human beings have been made in the image of God. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that God made humanity in the Divine image.

Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26,27).

In many ways we reflect God. This includes our sense of right and wrong. This moral sense that each human possesses causes them to seek to worship something. Yet the human conscience, by itself, does not tell us enough about whom we should worship.


The human conscience tells us what is right and what is wrong. The Bible says that it testifies to God's existence. Both Jews and Gentiles have the testimony of their conscience as to the fact that there is a God. However, by itself, the conscience is an insufficient guide. The conscience tells us that God exists but it does not tell us who that God is. The conscious is also a fallible witness because it has been corrupted by sin. Once a person comes to Jesus Christ as their Savior their conscience can function as it was originally created.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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