Our conscience knows truth when it hears it

For centuries, the idea has been pumped into our heads that God is angry at us, and the only reason he can even tolerate us is because he vented all his anger on Jesus, and the only way he can bring himself to forgive us for all we’ve done is if we repent, and if we don’t repent he packs us off to an agonizing hell forever.

But that’s not what we instinctively believe about God, is it? Deep down we believe God is merciful and he forgives. And the Bible explains why that is. It’s because God gave us a conscience, which knows when something “rings true,” or not. And it does NOT ring true to us hearing about God casting people into an everburning hell and never letting them out. It doesn’t ring true to us at all that a God of love would allow suffering like that to go on forever.

The gospel, therefore, is designed perfectly to pierce through to our conscience, because our conscience recognizes truth when it hears it. “By setting forth the truth plainly,” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Paul realized that if he spoke the truth, people’s consciences would pick up on it, because God has equipped all people with a highly sensitive “truth detector” that comes to life when the true picture of God is presented.

Paul also realized that the conscience is so sensitive it can pick up on what’s right even when people have no knowledge of God or the gospel. People who “never had (or heard about) God’s written laws,” Romans 2:13, “down in their hearts they KNOW right from wrong.” These are people who have never been influenced by any church, religious preaching or knowledge of God, but they still recognize there are laws of right and wrong to live by. And how do they know that? Verse 15 – “Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law.” That’s how brilliant the conscience is. It enables anyone and everyone to detect right from wrong, or to recognize truth when it’s plainly spoken.

And knowing that drove Paul to keep on preaching the gospel, because he knew what he was saying would “COMMEND” itself, or ring true, to people’s consciences, even if they’d never heard of God before, or they’d had a wrong picture of God lodged in their heads for years. There may be a pile of false religious rubble jamming up the conscience’s receivers, messing up the conscience’s ability to discern truth from error, but eventually the truth gets through.

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