18 May 2006

A clean conscience can accuse?

I was reading through the beginning of Romans, and read this (English Standard Version):

Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
Rom 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
Rom 2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

I had been thinking about something recently and this passage jumped out at me when I read it. I was talking to my roommate a couple weeks ago and was reading him some passages from the Bible. Nothing in particular, just trying to be the Bible-thumper I am and beat him over the head with the truth ;)

He repsonded by saying how his dad had been looking into Buddhism a lot and was pretty much a Buddhist. He talked about it for a little bit, and basically made the statement that all religions or paths to "enlightenment" are valid, as long as you are sincere and have faith.

In repsonse, I mumbled something about nothing, and beat a hasty retreat. How do you tell someone that they are totally wrong and going to to Hell without saying that? This passage always comes to mind when I see that pastor protesting at the funerals of soldiers with signs saying "God hates fags" and "God loves a dead soldier" or hear some obnoxious loud mouth hootin and hollerin and spoutin off his mouth with his own agenda.

1Pe 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
1Pe 3:15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
1Pe 3:16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Anyway, I was thinking about the dilemma in showing someone that just because they are "righteous" or are committed to doing good with their life, it brings them no closer to salvation. Let me say that my intention is not to convince anyone of anything, but to debunk the all-to-prevelant attitude among Christians of acceptance and validation of "doing good."

Getting to the point, after I read the Romans passage, I thought to myself that this was exactly what I needed. If someone has a guilty conscience over something they have done, i.e., murder: something that is commonly accepted to be contrary to some mysterious, unexplainable "code of ethics" most humans adhere to (one that is suspiciously close to the 10 Commandments), no one will argue with you if you say that they are most likely not being praised and coddled by some loving higher power.
However, the thing I have trouble with, and I know most Christians have trouble with, is "condemning" those who are doing good. People like Buddha or Gandhi.

"How could a loving God condemn someone who has done so much good??" the question always goes. And most Christians are hard pressed to defend what they may think they might believe.

But right there in Romans 2:15 it says it plain as day, humans have the innate knowledge of what is right and wrong on their hearts, and their conscience will accuse them when they are wrong, and excuse them when they do right.

Wait! Does that mean they are excused by God?? So as long as you are a "bascially good person" you'll be okay when you stand before the throne someday??

No, absolutely not. What the passage is saying is that, EVEN THOUGH someone's doing good and they have a clean conscience, that only further reinforces the fact that they are unconsciously acknowleding God's law. Would a law be a law if it is not enforced?? No, and God is a perfect and holy judge, of course he is going to judge by his own law.

All that is to say, somewhat confusingly, that when someone tries to say that doing good and following principles similar to God's law excuses them, it doesn't, it only shows more clearly that they are accountable to God's law.

I was also thinking about the Davinci Code coming out this weekend, and how so many people are much more likely to believe Dan Brown's ridiculous and unfounded theories over the literal truth in the Bible. I was talking with a friend about it, and she brought up how for some reason, people are so interested in anything that is seen as "hidden" or "suppressed." I guess it's just human nature to resist the truth that is SO PLAIN and attempt to inflate our egos by always searching for human wisdom.

Okay that had nothing to do with the rest of the blog, oh well.

This might not make any sense, but its been enlightening for me.