1. Introduction

We understand to date that the Lord gave us a pattern for rebuke members of His Body who are practicing sin.  The Lord told us to rebuke or reprove the one who is in error by:

  • telling the fault rather than hiding it.
  • exposing the fault
  • being sharp about the rebuke when the issue is an extremely serious one as in the case of  false doctrine.

I would like to  end this series by  writing briefly that  the purpose of the rebuke of the Lord is to produce CONVICTION as seen in the following texts:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell (elegchō) him his fault (elegchō) between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother (Matthew 18: 15).

2. Jesus’ rebuke  of the Pharisees produced conviction of sin

The Pharisees were about to “catch” Jesus, or so they thought.  He was in the temple teaching the people when they dragged the petrified woman into the middle of the crowd. They tossed her before the Lord, certain that He would have no choice except to condemn her sin.  She bowed down her head to  the ground, hopeless, waiting for the words – and  then the stones that would cause her death:

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

However, rather than responding, Lord Jesus ignored  them then bent down and began to write on the ground.  They continued to harass Him with the issue, then He gave them the timeless reproof which floored them – “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  In other words, which of you has never committed adultery?

That response caused conviction in their own conscience.  Realizing that they too deserved to be stoned,  they trailed out of the temple in embarrassment,  beginning from the eldest to the youngest  in true Jewish tradition:

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with [his] finger wrote on the ground, [as though he heard them not].

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard [it], being convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, [even] unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst (John 8: 3 – 9).

3.  What is the CONSCIENCE?

Lord  Jesus’ reproof had produced such an impact that the Pharisees were “convicted by [their own] conscience”.  Jesus did not even quote the same Law that they had used as the basis of  the woman’s arrest. Instead He appealed to their own conscience.

The text itself reveals that the conscience is the part of the human spirit that is aware of  right versus wrong.  Jesus’  reproof  forced the religious leaders to forget their self – righteousness and to acknowledge their own sin head on.

In order to further understand the revelation in scripture regarding the  human conscience, I tracked its usage in scripture and discovered that  syneidēsis (G4893) is the Greek word used in the text.   I was best able to understand  the meaning of  syneidēsis  by exloring  the root word which is synoraō  (G4894).

Synoraō  (G4894) occurs in the following texts and means:

a. To be privy of  secret information

Collins Dictionary defines privy as  “participating in the knowledge of something secret”.   The context in which privy is used in scripture refers to  Sapphira who plotted with her husband to lie to Apostle Peter and tell him that they were submitting all of   the proceeds from sale of property:

And kept back [part] of the price, his wife also being privy [to it], and brought a certain part, and laid [it] at the apostles’ feet (Acts 5:2).

Sapphira’s conscience did not  convict her that her actions were sinful.  Like Adam, she hid her sin in her bosom and must have used rationalization as an excuse to sin.  For example, she and her husband must have reasoned  that they should keep back part of the money for a vacation rather than giving it all to meet the needs of  the less fortunate in the church. Their false reasoning therefore served as a buffer for their sin.

Now let us  refer back to the text in which the Pharisees were convicted by their own conscience.  Their response to Jesus’ reproof  indicates that they too had secret knowledge of their own sins.

b.  to be aware of  or to know

Jesus resurrected in the Pharisees the knowledge and memory of their own adultery although they had conveniently forgotten this fact.  We learn from this text that conscience involves being aware of information:

And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use [them] despitefully, and to stone them,

They were ware of [it], and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about (Acts 14: 5 & 6)

c. to consider an event

An Angel of the Lord had come in the night and had released Apostle Peter from prison.   During the event, the Apostle thought that he was having a vision. However,  he became fully alert and considered  the event:

And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and [from] all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying (Acts 12: 11 & 12).

4. Application

The conscience is that part of the human spirit that:

  • is internal and not exposed
  • involves awareness of right and wrong
  •  involves acknowledgment of right and wrong – this is a good conscience.  After one considers one’s sin, this provides an opportunity for repentance to take place.
  • People can quench their conscience  or knowledge of sin as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.

How is your conscience today? Do you acknowledge sin when you are corrected or do you rationalize your wrongs or even lie to escape reproof. I pray that you will not kill your conscience.