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What Scripture Says About Salvation

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

Monograph 4:  The Evil Conscience


 

 

Why did satan want man to have a conscience?

The fig leaves of modern man

Righteousness


Summary Highlights of Monograph 4

 

 

Why did satan want man to have a conscience?

 

The word translated conscience comes from suneidesis, which means joint-knowledge.  Although the word conscience does not appear in the Old Testament, the basis for understanding the New Testament is found in the Old Testament. 

 

Genesis 3:1-24 contains the history of how man acquired a conscience, or joint-knowledge, and some of the effects.  This joint-knowledge has two sides.  One side is that everything you know, think, or do is also jointly known by God.  The other side is the joint-knowledge of good and evil, which is every man's conscience.

 

Genesis 3:2-5 notes the promise the serpent used to convince Eve to disobey God: 

"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." 

 

According to this scripture, Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good or evil.  They were living in innocence before God; they had no conscience.  They lived in joy, peace, and serenity, and enjoyed the love and companionship of God.

 

Neither did they have any knowledge of the tremendous effects from disobeying God's command, recorded in Genesis 2:17: 

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." 

 

A better translation of the words "thou shalt surely die" would be "beginning to die thou shalt die."  The death would not be immediate, but the beginning to die would be.

 

Man still begins to die from the day of his natural birth.  The old serpent wanted man to acquire a conscience because when this conscience of good and evil was acquired it had the possibility of destroying man for God's intended purpose. 

 

When Adam and Eve gained a conscience, or the knowledge of good and evil, they (and all their descendants) also acquired guilt and fear of God.  They became guilty because they had disobeyed God.  They became fearful because of the promised result.  They knew they deserved punishment because of their disobedience.

 

Because man acquired this sense of guilt and fear, God said they would die from its effects.  And all men do die.  And as they do, fear and guilt are a physical and spiritual scourge on mankind.  Those who minister to the physical and mental health of humanity cite fear and guilt as an underlying cause for many of the ills which afflict people.  If the serpent could choose only one weapon for spoiling man, the bestowal of a conscience would do the greatest damage.

 

When Adam and Eve acquired a conscience, it was the beginning of a parallel between good and evil which continued throughout the Bible.  Other scriptures refer to this as life and death, light and darkness, law and grace, and the war between spirit and flesh.  This is the battle Adam brought upon himself and all mankind by disobeying God's command. 

 

This was also a battle for which mankind was totally unprepared.  God in his goodness has been working to bring man to the point where he can again be free of this conscience.  That is the purpose of the good news: to give man liberty from the conscience which has encircled him with death.

 

All men die.  This is not a punishment of God, but one of his graces.  As bodies wear out and deteriorate, people become weaker and unable to care for themselves.  Death becomes not a punishment but a release from the corruption of a fleshly body that is no longer able to function.

 

The flesh cannot live forever with guilt and fear.  Because men have difficulty believing the goodness and love of God toward them, this underlying fear of punishment and sense of guilt persists until it eventually results in death.  As Romans 5:12 says,

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

 

Genesis 3:7 says,

"And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." 

 

There is another kind of nakedness which goes beyond the fact of simply having no clothes.  People are naked before God; nothing is hidden from him.  That includes everything we know, think, or do.  No wonder that people, having this knowledge, shun the presence of God, searching for some way to approach him without fear.

 

Nevertheless, God loves us even when he knows all we think and do.  He loves us just as we are.  This love is so great it exceeds our comprehension.  This is God's message to us, although it is one of the most difficult things to accept.  However, we must accept it in order to enter into the liberty God has created for us.

 

The conscience we gained through the transgression of Adam makes it impossible for us to believe this.  We must have help.  Instead of continuing in the knowledge of God's love and concern for them, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves into aprons.  They tried to solve the dilemma without God.

 

Adam and Eve wanted to dress themselves.  They became aware of the flesh, not just the flesh of their bodies, but also that of their nature.  Their carnal desires came into knowledge and the conscience they gained made the beautiful things of their former relationship with one another seem evil in their sight.  Suddenly nakedness was bad, although God had never said that.  Their relationship now brought guilt, not joy.

 

How sad to hear so much preaching, especially in evangelical circles, that reinforces our sense of guilt.  Many sermons start out with God's love, only to retract it later by telling people how to get God to love them.  The organized church has invented myriads of ways to get God to love people.  The octopus of religion is that although God's love is preached on the one hand, on the other hand it is taken away by the multiple tentacles of men's doctrines.

 

This type of ministry will never bring lasting cleansing of anyone's conscience.  It leads only to striving and law works, or worse yet, carnality, in an effort to gain God's love and acceptance.  The basis of all denominations rests on defining what people must do to gain salvation.  They completely miss or distort the point that salvation is of God, not man.

 

The idea that we must do something in order for God to love us is a lie.  This attitude will only keep our consciences alive and well.  It also works death, misery, guilt and fear, and wreaks havoc with both our physical and spiritual lives.  Satan does not want us to be free from a conscience of sin.  He worked very hard on our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, to make sure that we would inherit this conscience from them.  Satan wants us to run and hide from God's voice.

 

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The fig leaves of modern man

 

When Adam and Eve broke the one law God had given them, the results were guilt and fear.  Today, people react in the same manner when they realize that they, too, have broken God's laws.  God gave the law to reveal sin.  Those without knowledge and faith in the grace of God will always react with guilt, fear, and rebellion.

 

Rebellion is revealed through the desire to clothe ourselves with our own works, or "fig leaves."  We often seek to do good works, expecting to gain God's love and acceptance.  The Bible says that God considers all such efforts as filthy rags.  All our efforts at getting God to acknowledge our righteousness produces a stench in God's nostrils.  God told the Israelites to take away such offerings, that they were an abomination to him (see Isaiah 1:10-13).  These offerings were an abomination because of the manner they were offered.  They were the fig leaves of the Israelites.

 

God detests our fig leaves because they allow us to continue living in sin, guilt, and fear.  They do not bring about a change of heart.  God is not bothered with sin; he hates sin because of what it does to us.  In this regard, the Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin Romans 14:23).  God tells us that proper works can only be based upon proper faith, which realizes that God loves us just as we are.

 

God does not have to be persuaded to love us; he already does.  His son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross so there would be no question of his love for us.  There should be no misunderstanding.  Yet, we find it difficult to believe that God loves us so much without our doing anything to earn his love.  So, we continue to sew together fig leaves for our covering.

 

Man was created to bring glory to God.  If men continue to wear their own covering of fig leaves, they will be destroyed.  The Greek word for destroy, apollumi, does not mean annihilation, but to be ruined for the purpose for which it was created.  Even as a cracked cup which leaks is ruined for its purpose, so is man ruined without the knowledge of, or faith in, the goodness of God.  God never left Adam and Eve; they hid themselves and sought to leave God.  It was God who initiated a reconciliation and furnished them with a proper covering.

 

Ever since gaining a conscience, people naturally assume God is against them, and they erect a structure of religious rules for their salvation.  This structure may include church attendance, tithing, visitation, attending prayer meetings, or holding office in the church they attend.  These may all be good things to do, but if done without the knowledge that God loves us just as we are, these are not righteous deeds, but fig leaves.  Righteous deeds are those things done on the basis of faith that God loves us just as we are.  Righteous deeds are those done for the love of God, not because of the fear of God.

 

Most people today, even Christians, are frightened by God.  The paramount conception of God is that of a judge waiting to deal death and destruction to anyone who wavers in faith, or commits some offence against his law.  People holding such an attitude cannot bring forth righteous deeds. 

 

In I Corinthians 3:13, Paul said,

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

 

To acknowledge God as our creator, is to also acknowledge him as our Lord and Master.  Rather than do this, many people sew together fig leaves of various forms to cover themselves.  Fig leaves may be philosophy, money, charity, community involvement, baptism, church membership, being "filled with the spirit," speaking in tongues, doing penance, or anything else which is done in an attempt to appease God or gain his acceptance.

 

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Righteousness

 

Deeds deemed good by men are not necessarily considered righteous by God.  If good deeds are the train, then they must run on the tracks of faith and love of God.  In order for fig leaves (the works we do to earn salvation) to become righteousness there must be a commitment to God based upon a belief of the gospel that God loves us just as we are.  Then, our works will be based upon a love of God instead of a fear of God.  When works are done on the basis of proper faith and love of God, then it is God doing them through us.  Faith and love of God leads to a commitment of ourselves for his use.

 

Faith, if properly taught, should bring us back into a relationship of innocence before God.  There is no need to continually confess sins to God as if he were a judge, but as a father who loves us.  Only then can we approach him without dread, knowing and believing his great love for us.  If we are continually confessing sins to God as a judge instead of a father, then we are still wearing fig leaves and offering works to God in order to appease him.  To do righteousness, we must realize that our relationship to God is that of a child to a father.

 

God wants us to approach him without dread, knowing and believing his great love for us.  However, this will never be accomplished by wearing religious fig leaves.  Many sermons seem to be oriented toward teaching people what they must do to persuade God to accept them.  Some teach you must be baptized.  Others teach that you must be "born again."  Some teach that you must believe, transforming faith into a type of works.  Yet, believing is never taught in the Bible as something which will cause God to accept you.  Our faith does not change God, because God never changes.  Our faith changes us.

 

Beware!  Organized religion has many fig leaves that are wrongly directed.  Jesus solemnly warned men about the dangers of outward religion.  Matthew 23:1-39 records a scathing indictment of religious leaders. 

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,  And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,  And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.  But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.  Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!  Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?  And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.  Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?  Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.  And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.  And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,  And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?  Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.  For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

 

Some people say those harsh words were only for the Jews who opposed Jesus.  However, the same charges are equally valid for much of the organized church today.  Religious fig leaves are not highly regarded by Jesus Christ, not then and not now.

 

Religious fig leaves only give artificial peace for a little while.  Their greatest effect will be to reinforce the guilt and fear of the conscience.  Many sincere and conscientious people are not able to bear the burden of a conscience which has been constantly reinforced by the preaching of what many erroneously consider to be the "good news."

 

The really good news is that when Jesus died, he died for all.  Jesus bore the judgment of sin for all people, not just believers, but everyone.  Berry's Interlinear translation for II Corinthians 5:14-21 says:

"For the love of Christ constrains, having judged this, that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who died and was raised again for them.  So that from now we know no one according to flesh; but, if even we have known Christ, according to flesh, yet now no longer we know him.  So that if anyone be in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things passed away; lo, have become new all things: and all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ and gave to us the service of reconciliation: how that God was in Christ the world reconciling to Himself, not reckoning to them their offences, and having put in us the word (or message) of reconciliation.  For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, as it were God exhorting by us, we beseech for Christ.  Be reconciled to God.  For him who knew not sin, He made sin for us, that we might become righteousness of God in him." 

 

This is the good news.  Jesus died for everyone, and made a new creation in the process.  We  were all reconciled to God, and we should tell everyone the good news.  It is this good news which causes repentance, a changing of the mind.

 

When John, the Baptist, saw Jesus, he said,

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29). 

 

The phrase taketh away comes from airon, which means to take away in such a manner that these sins will never be imputed or punished.  This affirms the same good news Paul talked about.  God is no longer acting like a judge to punish us, but acts now as a father who loves us.

 

Paul, in Romans 5:8, said,

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 

 

In Romans 5:6, he said,

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." 

 

Yet, today, many erroneously claim that Jesus died only for the believers.  However, since Jesus died for all, those who live are to live as unto the Lord.  And that means everyone.

 

Recognizing that Jesus has already borne the punishment and guilt of our sins will set us free to serve God in love, not fear.  In II Corinthians 5:17, Paul wrote,

"So that if anyone [be] in Christ [there is] a new creation: the old things passed away; lo, have become new all things" (Berry's Interlinear Translation).  

 

Paul was simply stating the existence of a new creation based on the fact that everyone is in Christ.

 

The Greek word ei is translated as if, written as a first-class conditional clause, which gives it the force of something which is assumed to be a fact, not something which may or may not come to pass.  Paul assumed that all men are in Christ; therefore, because of this fact, there must be a new creation, not only of men, but of all things.

 

Then, Paul further substantiated his argument by saying

"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:18). 

 

Notice, Paul said that men's reconciliation to God was because of the death of Jesus, not because men had believed something.  Reconciliation was initiated by God, not men.  However, God gave men the ministry of reconciliation, which means they were to tell the world what God had done.  He had forgiven their sins, reconciled them to himself, accepted them as his children, and demonstrated his profound love for them by giving his Son to die in their place.

 

Believing what God has already done will change our lives from being based on fear and guilt, to lives which demonstrate God's love.  This is also a gift of God.  Remember, when we believe, it changes us, not God.  We are to believe what God has already done; we are not to believe in order to cause God to do something.  This is the difference between religious fig leaves and true inner faith.

 

II Corinthians 5:19 says,

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." 

 

Paul also stated that God was not imputing or counting men's offences against them.  Why not?  Because Jesus Christ died for them all.  God does not put men in double jeopardy.

 

In II Corinthians 5:20-21, Paul then exhorted them,

"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 

 

In other words, God has put away everything which was between him and us.  Paul was asking them to put away all the fears, anxieties and distrust they held between themselves and God.  Then, they would recognize God as Abba, Father.

 

Romans 8:15-16 says,

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." 

 

Abba is a Hebrew term of endearment.  The closest English translation would be Daddy.  Just lie back in the arms of your Daddy and trust him, and let him console and comfort you.

 

Trusting involves becoming vulnerable to another, and we do not like being vulnerable.  For the same reason, we often find it difficult to love someone because love also requires becoming vulnerable and responsible to another.  However, if we would drop our guard and become vulnerable to God a great awakening would occur in our lives.  Our conscience of sin before God would be gone.  The minding of the flesh which brings death would be gone, replaced by the minding of the spirit which is life.  We would see God as he wants to be seen: as the head of the family.  We would stop coming to God as our judge, asking for forgiveness of sin, and would begin coming to him as our Daddy, confessing our transgressions.  Confessing our sins, or agreeing that they are sins, would then be a matter of not wanting to hurt Daddy, of wanting to maintain a good relationship with him.

 

Romans 2:14-15 describes those who continue to approach God on the basis of law works: 

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:  Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another."

 

Paul said the work of the law, not the law, was written in their hearts.  Romans 4:15 says that the law works wrath.  In other words, the work of the law does not bring about peace, and joy, and love of God; it brings about wrath. 

 

The law brings the fear of judgment and the knowledge of sin, and it should cause men to turn to the mercy of God.  Instead, men perverted the proper use of the law and tried to fulfill it themselves in order to cause God to grant them salvation.  But it simply does not work that way.

 

The law never has been and never will be a means for men to become just before God.  Paul told the Romans that,

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). 

 

Paul told Timothy that the "shalt nots" of religion cause a seared conscience (I Timothy 4:2).  Paul was talking about those who depart from the faith and seek to justify themselves.

 

Seeking justification through the law was the problem of the Pharisees and the Sadducees of Jesus' day.  It is still prevalent among many religious denominations today.  Many outside organized religion see religion as being composed of "thou shalt nots." 

 

Jesus told people that God would accept them because of his life, and they crucified him.  A similar fate may befall anyone who dares say that God does not recognize religious fig leaves today any more than he did then.  At the risk of sounding repetitious: salvation is of God, and men can do nothing to create their own salvation.

 

The conscience is not a faculty such as the intellect, sensibility, or will but is a mode in which these faculties work.  It is a basis on which these faculties make their judgments about what we consider right or wrong in the sight of God.  When something is considered evil, the conscience will convince us to fear the judgment of God unless it is freed by the knowledge that God has already forgiven all our sins through the death of Christ.  This feeling of guilt before God is an evil conscience if we are expecting God to judge that sin, because the Bible teaches that God is not now judging any person (John 5:22).

 

If we do not have a clear conscience before God, we will miss spending the next age in a place of blessing.  This will not be caused by God judging our sin, but because our life deeds will have been done on some basis other than faith evidenced by love.  This bears repeating.  We cannot bring forth proper works by ourselves. 

 

Proper, godly works are those predicated upon the faith which causes us to become vulnerable to God.  When that happens, then God controls our lives so his love is manifested through our lives.  As Philippians 2:13 says,

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

 

Good works are those done in the knowledge that God loves us, all of us.  Without this faith there are no righteous deeds.  When Adam and Eve sinned they received their consciences, and they realized that sin requires either retribution or atonement.  God initiated the sacrificial system when he clothed them with the pelt of an animal.  God provided a means for them to clear their conscience sufficiently to again fellowship with him.  This system of sacrifices was further refined and practiced by the Israelite nation.  It served as a means of partially setting aside the guilt and fear of God so they could begin to understand the mercy of God.

 

Once a year the high priest went into the holy of holies with the blood sacrifice.  The people waited in the courts of the temple until he came forth with the good news that the sacrifice had been accepted by God.  He proclaimed this by crying to the assembly, "Ye are clean.  Ye are clean."  A great cry of rejoicing would go up from the assembled people as they realized that God was not holding their sins against them.  Their fear of punishment and sense of guilt for past sins was gone, at least for awhile, and their consciences were clear, at least for awhile.

 

Hebrews 9:3-14 says,

"And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;  Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;  And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.  Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.  But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:  The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:  Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;  Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;  Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

 

The blood of bulls and goats did not provide a perfect conscience.  The sacrifices of that day did not bring the total forgiveness of sins, but only a passing over of them.  In Romans 3:24-26, Paul said,

"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." 

 

Jesus was the sacrifice which caused God to forgive all the past sins of men which had only been "rolled forward" under the old sacrificial system.

 

God wanted to bring Adam and Eve back into a relationship of innocence before him, and his desire is the same for us.  When we see that Jesus was our atonement, this ends the evil conscience and allows us to enter boldly into the holy of holies in the heavenlies.  We have the faith to approach the throne of grace.

 

Unfortunately, much teaching today will not allow this.  Too much teaching is based on what we must do in order to approach God.  But, these are only dead works and will never provide a clear conscience.  They are just another system of "sacrifices" which will cleanse the conscience only until we sin again.  Many people, even many believers, neither understand nor believe that Jesus died for all sins.

 

The work of Jesus put all mankind at one with God.  The nearer we come to believing that Jesus died for all our sins, past, present, and future, the closer we are to being back in the Garden of Eden in innocence.  I Peter 2:18-23 says,

"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.  For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."

 

A proper conscience toward God consists in having the same attitude about being mistreated by others that Jesus showed.  When he was reviled, he reviled not again.  When he suffered, he threatened not.

 

How is it possible to have the same conscience toward God as Jesus had?  Jesus had a proper conscience toward God by committing himself to God who judges righteously, and we must do the same.  As Paul pointed out in I Corinthians 4:3-5:

"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.  For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."

 

Paul said that he did not even judge himself, that he would wait for the judgment of Jesus who would judge righteously.  Paul did not assume the ability to judge himself because he knew how deceitful the heart could be.

 

I Peter 2:24 says,

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." 

 

How can man, who has a law of sin in his members (Romans 7:23) and whose flesh is naturally sinful and by which he can never be justified, be dead to sins?  Peter does not mean that man will not sin.  Being dead to sins means coming to the faith that our sins need not bring a sense of guilt or fear of punishment from God as a judge. Being dead to sins in this sense enables one to live unto righteousness.  Of course, as a father, God disciplines those who practice sin.

 

Jesus died to free us from fear and guilt.  When Paul spoke of this in his letter to the Romans, he said that we died together with Christ. 

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7).

 

We were crucified together with Christ.  II Corinthians 5:14-15 says, 

"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 

 

God considers that all of us were crucified and died at the same time as Jesus.  God considers us dead to sin insofar as his judgment of guilt is concerned.  This does not mean that we cannot commit sin, but that we are dead to sin as far as judgment is concerned.

 

In spite of all the preaching to the contrary, we will never again be judged by God for our sin, only our righteous deeds.  Jesus Christ died once for all (Hebrews 10:10).  Judgment for sin is gone (John 1:29).  Men are dead to sin.  God covered Adam and Eve with skins, which foreshadowed his covering of all mankind with the blood of Jesus Christ.  With this covering there is no need for the fig leaves we use to cover ourselves.

 

When Jesus Christ died, the veil of the holy of holies was rent from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).  There was no longer anything between man and God.  Anyone who wishes to can enter into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19-22).  The way was opened by the death of Jesus Christ.  This is the only way to God, and it was accomplished by Jesus.  No one can come to God except through Jesus, that is, through his work, through what his death accomplished.

 

Works and keeping the law are forever ruled out as a means of salvation.  Jesus Christ has accomplished that for everyone.  When the apostles began to teach this good news, the religionists of their day began to erect another veil of what they insisted men must do in order to get God to accept them.  When a veil is in place, there must also be a priesthood to administer the law.  The same thing is happening today throughout organized religion.

 

Hebrews tells us that the law has been annulled, or set aside (Hebrews 7:18).  Paul said that men are no longer subject to law, but are subject to grace (Romans 6:14).  He also said that where there is no law, there is no sin imputed (Romans 5:13).  Men are no longer servants of the law; God, through the death of Jesus, has set all men over the law (Romans 8:2).  Men are to use the law as a guide for their lives (Romans 3:20).  They are not to try keeping the law as a means of justifying themselves before God.

 

When we break the law of God there may be dire results, but those are not a punishment from God.  Breaking the law of God will always adversely affect our lives.  The purpose of the law was to reveal sin.  If we use the law as a guide for our lives, we will certainly live godly lives.  We will also experience the inner joy of being at peace with God.  Using the law in this manner answers the question posed by Paul in Romans 3:31:  "Do we then make void the law through faith?"  Then, he answered, "God forbid: yea, we establish the law."

 

Proper faith is God's way of establishing his law in our lives as the guide by which he wishes us to live.  He does not want us to pervert its use as we once did.  God is not like the heathen gods who had to be constantly appeased.  If we regard God in this way, we will always seek to appease him with works, and thereby put ourselves back under the law.

 

The conscience is not the law, but is a judge of the law.  God has given us the law as a guide.  He used the conscience that the old serpent was so determined mankind should have to give us the ability to know right and wrong the way he wants us to recognize it.

 

The law is not to be served, it is to be used.  If men know the law of God, the conscience is an authoritative judge about what is right and what is wrong.  It will tell men what will be a blessing and what will be a curse.  Used in this way, the conscience will never bring guilt or fear, only knowledge of right and wrong.

 

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Daddy.

 

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Summary Highlights of Monograph 4

 

#  The word translated "conscience" means joint-knowledge.  Genesis 3:1-

     24 relates how man acquired a conscience, or joint-knowledge, and

     some of the effects.

#  Joint-knowledge has two sides.  One side is that everything you know,

     think, or do is also jointly known by God.  The other side is the joint-

    knowledge of good and evil, which is every man's conscience.  

#  Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good or evil.  They were living in

     innocence before God; they had no conscience.  They lived in joy,

     peace, and serenity, and enjoyed the love and companionship of God.  

#  The serpent wanted man to acquire a conscience because when this

     conscience of good and evil was acquired it had the possibility of

     destroying man for God's intended purpose.  

#  When Adam and Eve gained a conscience, or the knowledge of good

     and evil, they (and all their descendants) also acquired guilt and fear of

     God.  They became guilty because they had disobeyed God.  They

     became fearful because of the promised result.  They knew they

     deserved punishment because of their disobedience.  

#  Because man acquired this sense of guilt and fear, God said they would

     die from its effects.  

#  When Adam and Eve acquired a conscience, it was the beginning of a

     parallel between good and evil which continued throughout the Bible.

     Other scriptures refer to this as life and death, light and darkness, law

     and grace, and the war between spirit and flesh.  This is the battle

     Adam brought upon himself and all mankind by disobeying God's

     command.  

#  God in his goodness has been working to bring man to the point where

     he can again be free of this conscience.  That is the purpose of the good

     news: to give man liberty from the conscience which has encircled him

     with death.  

#  There is another kind of nakedness which goes beyond the fact of

     simply having no clothes.  People are naked before God; nothing is

     hidden from him.  No wonder that people, having this knowledge,

     shun the presence of God, searching for some way to approach him

     without fear.  

#  God loves us even when he knows all we think and do.  He loves us just

     as we are.  This love is so great it exceeds our comprehension.  This is

     God's message to us, although it is one of the most difficult things to

     accept.  However, we must accept it in order to enter into the liberty

     God has created for us.  

#  Instead of continuing in the knowledge of God's love and concern for

     them, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves into clothes.  They tried to solve

     the dilemma without God.  They tried to dress themselves.  

#  The organized church has invented myriads of ways to get God to love

     people.  Although God's love is preached on the one hand, it is taken

     away on the other hand by religious doctrines.  

#  When Adam and Eve broke the one law God had given them, the

     results were guilt and fear.  

#  God gave the law to reveal sin.  Those without knowledge and faith in

     the grace of God will always react with guilt, fear, and rebellion.  

#  Rebellion is revealed through the desire to clothe ourselves with our

     own works, or "fig leaves."  We often seek to do good works, expecting

     to gain God's love and acceptance.  

#  God detests our fig leaves because they allow us to continue living in

     sin, guilt and fear.  They do not bring about a change of heart.  

#  God is not bothered with sin; he hates sin because of what it does to

     us.  

#  The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin.  God tells us that

     proper works can only be based upon proper faith, which realizes that

     God loves us just as we are. 

#  God does not have to be persuaded to love us; he already does.  His

     son, Jesus, died on the cross so there would be no question of his love

     for us.  

#  God never left Adam and Eve; they hid themselves and sought to leave

     God.  It was God who initiated a reconciliation and furnished them

     with a proper covering.  

#  Ever since gaining a conscience, people naturally assume God is

     against them, and they erect a structure of religious rules for their

     salvation.  These may all be good things to do, but if done without the

     knowledge that God loves us, these are not righteous deeds, but fig

     leaves.

#  Righteous deeds are those things done on the basis of faith that God

     loves us just as we are.  Righteous deeds are those done for the love of

     God, not because of the fear of God.  

#  Most people today, even Christians, are frightened by God.  The

     paramount conception of God is that of a judge waiting to deal death

     and destruction to anyone who wavers in faith, or commits some

     offence against his law.  People holding such an attitude cannot bring

     forth righteous deeds.  

#  Deeds considered good by men are not necessarily considered

     righteous by God.  If good deeds are the train, then they must run on

     the tracks of faith and love of God. 

#  When works are done on the basis of proper faith and love of God, then

     it is God doing them through us.  

#  Faith, if properly taught, should bring us back into a relationship of

     innocence before God.  There is no need to continually confess sins to

     God as if he were a judge, but as a father who loves us.  Only then can

     we approach him without dread, knowing and believing his great love

     for us.

#  Organized religion has many fig leaves that are wrongly directed.

     Jesus solemnly warned men about the dangers of outward religion.  

#  Religious fig leaves only give artificial peace for a little while.  Their

     greatest effect will be to reinforce the guilt and fear of the conscience.  

#  When Jesus died, he died for all.  Jesus bore the judgment of sin for all

     people, not just believers, but everyone.  

#  Recognizing that Jesus has already borne the punishment and guilt of

     our sins will set us free to serve God in love, not fear.  

#  Men's reconciliation to God was because of the death of Jesus, not

     because men had believed something.  Reconciliation was initiated by

     God, not men.  

#  When we believe, it changes us, not God.  We are to believe what God

     has already done; we are not to believe in order to cause God to do

     something.  This is the difference between religious fig leaves and true

     inner faith.  

#  Just lie back in the arms of your father (God) and trust him, and let

     him console and comfort you.  

#  If we would drop our guard and become vulnerable to God a great

     awakening would occur in our lives.  Our conscience of sin before God

     would be gone.  The minding of the flesh which brings death would be

     gone, replaced by the minding of the spirit which is life.  We would see

     God as he wants to be seen: as the head of the family.  We would stop

     coming to God as our judge, asking for forgiveness of sin, and would

     begin coming to him as our Daddy, confessing our transgressions.

     Confessing our sins, or agreeing that they are sins, would then be a

     matter of not wanting to hurt Daddy, of wanting to maintain a good

     relationship with him.  

#  The law never has been, and never will be, a means for men to become

     just before God.  

#  The conscience is not a faculty such as the intellect, sensibility, or will

     but a mode in which these faculties work.  It is a basis on which these

     faculties make their judgments about what we consider right or wrong

     in the sight of God.  

#  When something is considered evil, the conscience will convince us to

     fear the judgment of God unless it is freed by the knowledge that God

     has already forgiven all our sins through the death of Jesus Christ.  

#  This feeling of guilt before God is an evil conscience if we are expecting

     God to judge that sin, because the Bible teaches that God is not now

     judging any person (John 5:22).  

#  If we do not have a clear conscience before God, we will miss spending

     the next age in a place of blessing.  This will not be caused by God

     judging our sin, but because our life deeds will have been done on

     some basis other than faith evidenced by love. 

#  When Adam and Eve sinned they received their consciences, and they

     realized that sin requires either retribution or atonement.  

#  God initiated the sacrificial system when he clothed Adam and Eve

     with the pelt of an animal.  This provided a means for them to clear

     their conscience sufficiently to again fellowship with him.  This system

     of sacrifices was further refined and practiced by the Israelite nation.  It

     served as a means of partially setting aside the guilt and fear of God so

     they could begin to understand the mercy of God.  

#  The blood of bulls and goats did not provide a perfect conscience.  The

     sacrifices of that day did not bring the total forgiveness of sins, but only

     a passing over of them. 

#  Jesus was the sacrifice which caused God to forgive all the past sins of

     men which had only been "rolled forward" under the old sacrificial

     system.  

#  When we see that Jesus was our atonement, this ends the evil

     conscience.  

#  Too much teaching is based on what we must do in order to approach

     God.  But, these are only dead works and will never provide a clear

     conscience.  They are just another system of "sacrifices" which will

     cleanse the conscience only until we sin again.  

#  Many people, even many believers, neither understand nor believe that

     Jesus died for all sins.  

#  The nearer we come to believing that Jesus died for all our sins—past,

     present, and future—the closer we are to being back in the Garden of

     Eden in innocence.  

#  A proper conscience toward God consists in having the same attitude

     about being mistreated by others that Jesus showed.  When he was

     reviled, he reviled not again.  When he suffered, he threatened not.  

#  Paul said he did not even judge himself, that he would wait for the

     judgment of Jesus.  Paul did not assume the ability to judge himself

     because he knew how deceitful the heart could be.  

#  Being dead to sins means coming to the faith that our sins need not

     bring a sense of guilt or fear of punishment from God as a judge.

     Being dead to sins in this sense enables us to live unto righteousness.

     Of course, as a father, God disciplines those who continually practice

     sin.  

#  God considers that all of us were crucified and died at the same time as

     Jesus, and he considers us dead to sin insofar as his judgment of guilt is

     concerned.  This does not mean that we cannot commit sin, but that we

     are dead to sin as far as judgment is concerned.  

#  When Jesus Christ died, the veil of the holy of holies was rent from top

     to bottom.  It was no longer available only to the high priest.  There

     was no longer anything between man and God.  Anyone who wishes

     to can enter into the presence of God.  This is the only way to God, and

     it was opened by the death of Jesus Christ.  No one can come to God

     except through Jesus, that is, through his work, through what his death

     accomplished. 

#  When we break the law of God there may be dire results, but those are

     not a punishment from God.  Sinning brings its own consequences.  

#  The purpose of the law was to reveal sin.  If we use the law as a guide

     for our lives, we will certainly live godly lives.  We will also experience

     the inner joy of being at peace with God.  

#  God is not like the heathen gods who had to be constantly appeased.  If

     we regard God in this way, we will always seek to appease him with

     works, and thereby put ourselves back under the law.  

#  God gave us the law as a guide.  The conscience is not the law, but a

     judge of the law.  God used the conscience that the old serpent was so

     determined we should have to give us the ability to know right and

     wrong the way he wants us to recognize it.  

#  The law is not to be served, it is to be used.  If we know the law of God,

     the conscience is an authoritative judge about what is right and what is

     wrong.  It will tell us what will be a blessing and what will be a curse.

     Used in this way, the conscience will never bring guilt or fear, only

     knowledge of right and wrong.

 

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