The Nature and Function of Conscience
Proverbs 20:27
The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

The spirit of man is the breath of the Creator. The breath kindled intelligence in the brain, and infused vitality into the heart. It did more than that. It made man a moral being, capable of virtue, and responsible for his actions. The vitalizing breath of the Lord kindled a light in man — here called "the candle of the Lord." By that candle man sees his own inner nature, witnesses the process of his own mind, and observes the motions of his affections and will. Conscience has a place of pre-eminent importance in our nature.

1. Scientific men give one definition of conscience, while popular usage sanctions another materially different. In every-day usage the word is used to indicate the whole moral nature of man. When a man resists temptation he says, "My conscience will not let me do it." Conscience includes three things: the perception of right or wrong; the judgment of a particular action as being right or wrong; the feeling of pleasure or remorse which follows right or wrong action. The Bible usage of the word is the same as our ordinary usage in every-day speech. In Scripture usage, conscience includes the perception, the judgment, and the feeling. Conscience is not an Old Testament term. And, singularly enough, the word was never used in the teaching of the Lord Jesus.

2. Paul's most frequent word for the function of conscience is the figurative word "witness." Conscience is a witness testifying in the soul. A witness is one who testifies, one who tells clearly what he knows of a matter. To what facts or truths does conscience bear testimony. It testifies to the existence of a fundamental distinction between right and wrong. It testifies that right ought to be done, and that wrong ought not to be done. It convicts a man when wrong has been done. Its witness becomes a check on man's doings.

(Jesse T. Whitley.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

WEB: The spirit of man is Yahweh's lamp, searching all his innermost parts.

The Light of Conscience
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