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Conscience and sin towards God


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#1 ecstoian

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 11:54 AM

Speaking of natural theology, St. Paul's writes, in his epistle to the Romans, that all men have God's law written in their hearts and that, when one sins, his thoughts either accuse or excuse one another. How can this accusation of one's conscience lead him to the thought that he's worthy of punishment from God ? Can someone please show me the link, if there indeed is any, between the feeling of guilt and fear of God's punishment, in the mind of a man who has not heard the Christian revelation ? What reasons can be brought forth to show that morality/immortality is connected to something that transcends human nature, like God ?



#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 04:21 PM

It is God who gives us such a law of reason, who planted it as though a seed in man, it is God also who gives it increase and we who accept or reject such as our consciences shows us to be right or wrong, should we choice the right our conscience will thereby be strengthened in the grace of God. Surely also then to a man doing the right and seeking the good will God lead to all Truth  making Himself manifest unto him, but in this also our choice is not removed from us but having free will a man may gladly accept this or reject it. For that righteous man Cornelius the centurion though not a Jew but a Gentile yet continuing in prayer and good works was granted the appearance of an angel and told to send for Peter, when the most blessed apostle came unto him he declared "In truth, I comprehend that God is not a respecter of persons, but in every nation, the one who feareth Him and worketh righteousness is acceptable unto Him" and  after Peter preached unto him the Holy Gospel enlightening him thereby with the knowledge of God, upon him though he had not having even holy baptism did the Holy Spirit descended. We know also that a man who begins to have knowledge of God, his sins being known to him then has the fear of God for "Fear is the beginning of Wisdom" 

 

But turning back to the one who has not the knowledge of God and how he can know the right from the wrong, the good from the bad, the straight way from the crooked, we must remember that the law of conscience reasoning as to what is right and wrong is given to us from God and we have the free will to look or not to what he as given us. As to this leading to the fear of God this also is a mystery, for a man having the knowledge of right from wrong may choose to do the good though at first not know why, but in time God giving the increase, strengthening that which he has wrought in us shall lead such a man to knowledge of Him. But at all times a man is free to accept or reject God's grace, and so only some continue to the fear of God and the acceptance of the Gospel of Salvation.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,


Edited by Daniel R., 18 April 2013 - 04:25 PM.


#3 Lakis Papas

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 12:44 AM

Dear Catalin STOIAN,

 

I think you refer to Romans 2:14-15
 

for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things 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



There is no connection here between "feeling of guilt and fear of God's punishment" nor is there a connection to behavior regarding sin. I think you do not understand properly the sentence.

What St Paul means in Romans 2:15 is the following: What is proven by their behavior, is that they have written the work of law in their hearts as their conscience bears witness and confirmation to them for their actions, whether good or bad, while their intellect (in a process parallel to consciousness) develops thoughts, which are seen as an internal debate of thoughts, some which accuse, less which defend, their acts.

This debate of thoughts is an internal process that takes place to evaluate if an act is wrong or right. This evaluation process has nothing to do with fear of God, or with feelings of guilt. It is a logical process that consists of logical arguments that fight each other. With this rational method man examines actions from different viewpoints in order to obtain a value judgment from a conflict of thoughts. This process works alongside with the consciousness and confirms its findings on the moral basis of "the work of the law" that is manifested in some deeds of Gentiles.


Edited by Lakis Papas, 19 April 2013 - 12:54 AM.


#4 Ilaria

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 11:59 AM

 What reasons can be brought forth to show that morality/immortality is connected to something that transcends human nature, like God ?

 

I find this question worth to be taken in consideration, especially when we have to discuss with someone who is not accustomed with spiritual laws; however, it is hard to put it in discussion with an atheist. Because the link would be no other but God image in any man. He created us in His image, therefore we cannot say that He punishes, but our fall leads us to the feeling of guilty.

Have he heard or not of Christ, he has this image of Christ in him because he has been created so.

Therefore, the question would be: does he agree with this image, with the fact that he has been created in the image of God, or not? Further, that he has to fulfill the ''law of creation'' which is to obey to His Creator... Because, if he does not agree, at some point, he may/will fall from that feeling of guilty ( the sleep of conscience).



#5 Owen Jones

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 03:28 PM

Everyone has an idea of God, even, if not especially the atheist, who has a false perception of God.  And I think it is rare that someone has absolutely no idea of law, even if he does not articulate it as such.  The nihilist who has developed a theory and try to live by it really does not.  He simply believes that he has found a higher law. 

 

And so one of the big problems in our age of secularism is that many people consciously feel themselves condemned to a cursed life because of their own thoughts and actions without any escape.  And of course contemporary psychology responds to that pathology by telling people that they need to learn to forgive themselves and love themselves, which is a fool's errand.  I cannot pretend to know exactly what St. Paul intends to mean, but I am sure he is not talking about pure logical intellection, but rather natural behavior guided by conscience, something which God has placed in all of us. 

 

Plato of course went through all of this dialectically.  Why would someone want to do what is right?  Just because of fear of punishment?  etc.



#6 ecstoian

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:00 AM

Thank you everyone for your answers, and please forgive my absence for such a long time.

 

What reasons can be brought forth to show that morality/immortality is connected to something that transcends human nature, like God ?

 

I asked this question because I struggle to understand the moral argument for the existence of God, directed usually against atheists. The proposers of this argument say that because there's good and evil, there must be a basis on which to differentiate between them, and that basis must be God. I fail to see why this must be so, why things cannot simply be reduced to man, why cannot this basis reside simply in human nature, whatever be the way man has originated on earth.






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