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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary


The conscious knowledge of good and evil. This resulted from the fall of Adam. He could have had no knowledge of good and evil before any evil was there. It is remarkable that the word conscience does not occur in the O.T. In the N.T. the word is συνείδησις, lit. 'joint-knowledge.' This agrees with what God said of Adam after the fall, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." Genesis 3:22 . The above word occurs once in the LXX in Ecclesiastes 10:20 : "Curse not the king, no not in thy conscience." This knowledge of good and evil is universal: some of the most benighted heathen, for instance, have owned that they knew such things as stealing were wrong. They are thus 'a law to themselves:' their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts accusing or excusing themselves between themselves. Romans 2:14,15 . The law gave more light as to what was right and wrong: Paul said, "I had not had conscience also of lust unless the law had said, Thou shalt not lust." Romans 7:7 . Christianity brings the conscience into the light of God, fully revealed by His word; the believer is thus exercised to have a conscience void of offence towards God and men. This may be called a 'tender conscience.' Acts 24:16 .

Scripture speaks of

1. a 'good conscience,' enabling one when accused of evil, to know that the charge is untrue. 1 Peter 3:16 .

2. a 'pure conscience,' which is characterised by the separation from evil. 1 Timothy 3:9 .

3. a 'weak conscience,' as on the subject of meats, days, etc. 1 Corinthians 8:7 .

4. a 'purged conscience.' Through faith in the infinite efficacy of the blood of Christ the believer has no more conscience of sins. This does not mean no consciousness of ever sinning, but that as regards imputation of sins before God, the conscience is purged. Paul speaks of some who have a 'defiled mind and conscience,' Titus 1:15; and of others who in departing from the faith have their 'conscience seared with a hot iron,' 1 Timothy 4:2 , that is, a hardened conscience, insensible to that which should touch them to the quick.

Conscience, with the Christian, should be exercised in the sight of God fully revealed in Christ, and be governed by the word, otherwise, on the plea of 'conscience,' many actions displeasing to God way be advocated. This is exemplified in the case of Paul before his conversion. He could say that he had lived in all good conscience before God, and yet he had been haling men and women to prison because they were Christians. Doubtless he did it with an unoffending conscience, according as the Lord stated: "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." John 16:2 . Paul's zeal for Judaism so blinded his eyes that he was unable to recognise in his conscience the God who gave the law, and had sent His Son also; nor to see that God could act outside of it: it was an unenlightened conscience, a zeal without knowledge, by which even the Christian may be led astray.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Conscience'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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