Witnessed Against Ourselves
Pr Edi Giudetti
The Witness of Conscience
11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.Romans 2:11-16
It’s quite difficult to have a conscience that witnesses against you. Your own conscience bares testimony and you are the guilty party. You essentially become a Witness Against
Yourself, which is the title of this message.
In 1966 a man by the name of Ernesto Miranda confessed to and was therefore found guilty of kidnapping and rape by an Arizona court and sentenced to 20-30 years of prison. That same year his attorney stated that Ernesto Miranda’s confession for his crimes should be struck out, as proper warnings and procedures should have been given him to ensure he understood his rights under the fifth amendment of the Bill of Rights in the US.
The State supreme court held up the original ruling and Ernesto remained behind bars.
His attorney then appealed to the US Supreme Court who ruled 5-4 in favor of Ernesto Miranda.
Chief Justice Earl Warren on July 13th1966, writing for the majority opinion, stated that
“without proper safeguards, the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual’s will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would otherwise do so freely.”
From that ruling came the standard reading of an arrested persons rights prior to interrogation by the Police in the United states. The readings we see when watching any US movie of Cops and Robbers, are called The Miranda Rights.
In short, the Miranda Rights are protections against Self Incrimination.
What are we to say when our own conscience bears witness against us?
Lets consider the passage
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
It will not be your skin colour, the country you were born in or the priveledges life has offered you. It will not be the level of education you attained or the income level you had or did not have. No matter if you are poor or rich, slave or a freeman. It will not be how many of the hungry of the world you have fed, how many people in the third world you have helped come out of poverty.
Whether you are a King or a Priest, a Soldier or a Poet, a Peasant or an Artisan, there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that is regardless of whether or not you were able to find out about the written and specific Law of God or not.
You say this seems rather unfair! How can a man be rightly judged without the law just as those with the Law?
Well you might have been right unless you would read the explanation in parenthesis found in the next verses.
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughtsthe mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts
“Conscience” is a compound Latin word, Con = with, Science = Knowledge.
It was given man at the tree of consciencein Genesis chapter 3. That is how it is known to many Hebrews, the tree was The Tree of Knowledge.
It was there that man was given the knowledge of good and evil,and the will and ability to choose one or the other. That knowledge became known in Philosophic Circles as The Natural Law.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by naturethe things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Though they do not have the written Law of God to be accused against, they do have that “law written in their hearts”. It is their conscience that bears witnessagainst them, their own minds and thoughts witnesses against them of what they do.
Ourthoughtsthe mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
It’s true, you and I know that it is true,and when we do those things contrary to our consciencewe begin to rationalise the purpose of it in order to justify ourselves in doing what we know is wrong to do;
I heard a quote many years ago that said;
“Never underestimate man’s ability to rationalize anything!”
What it refers to is that which happens to a darkened conscience, nothing is outsidethe realms of being justified in their minds.
Recall chapter one when it stated clearly that “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21)
Romans one goes on to refer to the darkened mind as “Reprobate”, Isaiah relates the complete distortion of the mindby saying “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
Ephesians 4 relates to this as people walking in “the vanity of their own minds, having their understanding darkened” (Eph 4:17-18).
When the gentile man sins against his own conscience, he sins against the very thing that is the greatest witness of himself.
While the Law is given to revel sin to the Jew, the conscience is given to reveal sin in the Gentile.
But when he rationalizes and justifies his sin against his conscience, when he turns that which is wrong and fools himself believing it was right for him at that time, his own Situational Ethics, then is his “understanding darkened”.
1 Tim 4:2 referring to the latter days, it speaks of those “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;”.
When man acts against the clear and inexcusable witness of his own conscience, the result is a continuation of that act he did against the clear and inexcusable witness of God.
His conscience is darkened, unable to continue to function in accord with its proper order.
John Macarthur in his book The Vanishing Conscience relates this story;
In 1984 an Avianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The “black box” cockpit recorders revealed that several minutes before impact a shrill, computer-synthesized voice from the plane’s automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly in English, “Pull up! Pull up!”
The pilot, evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped, “Shut up, Gringo!” and switched the system off. Minutes later the plane plowed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board died.
Acting AGAINST our CONSCIENCE Silences its TESTIMONY AGAINST US, until we no longer have the ability to discern right from wrong.
How can we tell if most people act in good conscience today or not?
This is a world today that;
- Saves the trees but kills the children;
- Rewards laziness with welfare;
- Endorses perversion and calls it alternative living
- Abuses power and calls it politics
- Normalises profanity and pornography and calls it “freedom of expression”
- Promotes covetousness and calls it ambition
- Excuses the mutilation of the private parts of young girls and calls it “religious freedom”
- Sacks its top teachers for teaching that girls are girls and boys are boys;
- Thinks it can borrow money to get out of debt;
Well summarized in that it rejects absolute truth to embrace pluralism, absolutely!
“DO AS THOU WILT SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW”
Paul concludes this thought in verse 16 saying; 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
He is referring to a specific time.
Ignoring the verses in parenthesis, the texts says;
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (When?) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
There will come a time when the conscience of man will no longer be darkened, but fully informed. It will be in that day; the secrets of men will be an open book before both God and themselves.
But if your desire is to have your conscience awake now, there is another book we can open. This book has the ability to both enlighten and convict the heart (Heb 4:12), to act in accord with David’s plea, “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see ifthere be anywicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139:23-24)
The Witness of God
17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
Here we have what can only be described as The Witness of God.
It was in Genesis chapter 12 that God speaks directly to a man giving him instruction and making to that man a unilateral promise of blessing, that man was Abram, later to be known as Abraham (Father of many).
Here we have a chosen people, it would be to them the Lord would give his written commandments, he would commit to them The Oracles of God (We will speak more to their value next week).
This is The Law that the Jew was given to rest upon. No longer had man to decide for himself what was right or wrong, now man had the perfect law at his disposal from which all moral principal is governed and weighed.
The Jew thereby could make their boast of God, they Knows his will, they don’t need to guess it, they can (v18) approve the things that are more excellent, How? Being instructed out of the law!
The Jew alone had the very laws that governed the entire universe given them directly by the one who created the universe. The gentiles had nothing like this.
The closest they came was what we have come to know as “The Code of Hammurabi”, a list of 282 laws by an ancient Babylonian King. Some of these laws remarkably similar to that handed down to Moses.
The dating of this King is questionable, some as early as 23rdcentury BC, some as late as the 16thcentury BC. No-one really knows. Babylon had rises and falls in its history, its last rise was with Nebuchadnezzar until it fell to the Medo-Persian empire.
Nevertheless, Authoritative and absolute written laws to the gentile nations did not exist. But the Jews had them; Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
Having special and peculiar knowledge of some deep truth, has the tendancy of making people quite proud, boastful. We see this evident in many cults even today.
- The freemasons strive for ascendancy degree after degree of peculiar exalted names and then, inthe “Royal” Arch degree of the York Ritethe true name of the god they worshipis revealed,
- the Gnostics in the early centuries, believed they possessed Special Knowledge (Gnosis = Knowledge). This knowledge had them feel like they ascended well above their contemporaries.
- The Hindu and the Buddist, the Eastern Mystics and their “ascended masters”.
- The leaders of minority cults to whom many have even sacrificed their own lives for. We could think of The Jonestown massacre where 919 followers of Jim Jones ended their lives in a single day on November 18 1978, or those who perished under the leadership of David Koresh in the siege Waeco Texus in 1993.
- Special Knowledge leads us all the way to the Charismatic Cults of today, (the descendants of the heretic Montanus in the late second century), who’s ecstatic utterances and prophetic WORDS are the special anointings of God upon this particular people.
It is their boast of God and special knowledge they think shall save them, but Paul goes on in verse 19 saying;
19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
To Judaism, would a gentile need to become a proselyte. Essentially, he needed to convert to becoming a Jew if he truly feared God.
They did indeed have the Law of God, and could certainly be ‘guides of the blind, and ‘light to them which are in darkness’.
It is in this they lifted themselves us, thinking themselves right with God, proud of that which was given them, proud of that which they did nothing to attain.
But even more than this, they saw themselves as V20, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
The Gentile we saw needed to rely on their conscience, that ever waning, movable, and preferential state of mind that would mostly be directed by the emotions and lusts. But these Jews had the Law of the Lord, they did not need to guess, they knew what the Lord required of them.
They had the Witness of God
It’s one thing to know what it is the Lord requires of you, it is quite another to act upon it.
Knowledge Puffeth upsays Paul in 1 Cor 8:1. It is action that makes all the difference.
It will be the Witness of their own conceit that will correct the pride of the Jew that, according to the Martyr Stephen,“ Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not keptit.” (Acts 7:53).
The Witness of Conceit
21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
We might find it astounding to discover the hypocrisy of people today, who hold others to a standard which they themselves do not keep.
21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
So filled with knowledge and the expectation of and in others, yet unwilling of ourselves to learn of those same ways and behaviors. We teach others, but we will not take the same counsel.
No doubt there are many counsellors out there who even get paid by others to advise them of things they themselves will not take heed of.
thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
We all know it’s wrong to steal, very few of us will give approval to those who do steal. Yet how many people do you know who despise being stolen from yet actually excuse themselves in stealing from others?
Someone I know was sharing about how he was able to obtain a great price for all the new appliances in his home. Further enquiry revealed that the items themselves where stolen goods. People who had legitimately paid for those items in an honourable way, doing that which is right, working hard to earn the money and then go out of their way to research the best items, had their possessions stolen from them.
My friend was a part of the market that happily boasted of receiving stolen goods. He creates the environment for which the thief has a ready reward for his abominable act.
It’s the shrill cry of this same person that places a small smile upon my face when he tells me he was stolen from. The fruit of his own labour revisited him, but sadly he will not learn.
Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?
Nothing builds a foundation of deceit, anxiety and fear greater than the person you thought you loved cheating on you. I don’t know how people recover from this.
The same person who commits adultery knows it is wrong and would never wish his or her loving and caring partner to do the same to them. This is the ultimate act of treasonin the marital home and is little wonder why the Lord provides for the legal disintegration of the marriagebecause of this.
There are some today teaching that the Bible does not approve of any circumstance for divorce. To do so they need to reinterpret completely Jesus own words on the matter.
Adultery is certainly a just ground for divorce, the Lord lovingly providing for the Victim’s future happiness rather than keeping him or her in ongoing misery for that which they had no control.
Be very careful ladies and gentlemen, in order for you to reject one relationship and accept another, there needs to be dissatisfaction framed within your mind in that current relationship.
The devil knows your weakness, he will place in your view from time to time temptation that will divert your affections from your partner, these are the thin ends of the wedges that may be employed to separate you in the future.
FLEE FROM THEM!
I said to my wife the other day, as we were speaking about the temptation in the Garden, that the Devil is the original salesman from whom all salesmen take their que to this very day; his tools are two, and his two tools are simple and are found in Genesis 3;
- Create dissatisfaction with what you have.
- Sell up the replacement.
If you have ever been in sales, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Avoid and FLEE from those things which have the risk in making you dissatisfied with your partner in life.
DO I NEED TO ELABORATE?
In general, to men it is the visual stimulation of the eyes, and to women it is the emotional stimulation of the heart.
That is GENERAL, It’s not absolute.
One inclines itself toward sexual indulgences and the other toward romanticism. Both have the same long-term effect. FLEE FROM THEM AND DON’T ENTERTAIN THEM FOR A MOMENT.
Be Content in what you have and enhance it.
thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
In Teaching the law of God you have given mental approval that the law is good, in breaking that same law you dishonor the Lord in practice. To teach the one but practice the other means you do not believe they very things that you say. What you truly believe you will act upon.
That’s why actions are more reliable than words in people.
If the Law is given by God and is good, holy and righteous to all people, how is it that it is not the same for you?
And if you break the law of God, but teach that God promises blessing in his Law, do you not then live as if God is a liar when you break that Law?
Do you literally blaspheme God with your manner of life?
Paul says that is exactly what you do!
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
You and I are walking billboards for Christ.
The witness of conceit in our lives is when we boast of our faith and salvation and yet live as the world does. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking the world is not watching you. When you call yourself Christian and act like the world, people take notice and blaspheme that name by which you claim to have been saved.
There are few witnesses more blasphemous than road rage matched to a fish bumper sticker!
Be not boastful of your faith lest your conceit witnesses against you!
The Witness of Justice
26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
God is the ultimate witness of all justice. His word and his law is the written revelation of the holiness, righteousness and justice of God to man.
Two people groups, the one has been separated unto God from ancient times and received in themselves the sign of circumcision. That is, the sign in their flesh that God has separated them from the entire world.
Their lives were not to mingle with the world, they were not to inter marry. Only among the twelve tribes were a man to take a wife, that their distinction from the world be retained.
But if these people who were separated unto God and had the Law of God, did not that which the law taught them, but the gentiles who did not have the law, kept the law, then who is it better suited, separated to God?
The world does not know God, but if the Jew who is charged to know him, rejects the law of God, is he better than the world? Shall not his circumcision be counted as uncircumcision?
Consider verse 27;
27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
If the uncircumcised Gentile, who was not originally separated unto God, does naturally the things contained in the law, will he not then fit the qualification of judgementagainst those who have the law?
How many of you have seen a good man or a good woman and thought to yourself, “my, he/she would make a good Christian”?
How many of you have been hurt by those who call themselves Christian?
How many of you have godless friends that treat you with more love and respect that Christians treat you?….so much so that you don’t even want them converted…oops!
Let us not get distracted here beloved, Paul is speaking of the lost state of the Jew in this context and not the Christian, but you do get the exhortation don’t you?
Don’t blaspheme God in your relationships to others.
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
The original intent of the sign of circumcision was as a declaration of the righteousness of God not of man, and that these peculiar people are separated for God out of the world.
Paul deals with the righteousness of Abraham and the sign of circumcision later, so I will not spend time on it now. But it was always to be the circumcision of the heart that redeems a man.
“And the Lordthy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lordthy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Deut 30:6
Jeremiah notes it
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Jer 4:4
Stephen the first martyr confirms it just before they stoned him to death;
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so doye. Acts 7:51
Paul is consistent when he warned;
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed isnot grievous, but for you it issafe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Phil 3:1-3
Ernesto Miranda did not leave prison when the US Supreme Court ruled in his favor. His own testimony could not be used against himself, so that was withdrawn. His wife however came forward to testify against him, stating that he confessed to her.
That together with other evidence was to place his case beyond reasonable doubtand he was convicted for 20years in prison. His Conscience bore witness against him and compelled him to confess to his wife.
This secured the testimony and the conviction
He spent only eight of those twenty years in behind bars.
He later sold self-autographed Cards of the “Miranda Rights” for $1.50 each.
His life ended when he was stabbed with a knife in a bar fight some years later.
The person who was arrested for his murder, was read the “Miranda Rights”.
Turn to Mark 14:55
55And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. 57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, 58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. 59 But neither so did their witness agree together. 60And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? whatis it whichthese witness against thee? 61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 63Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
No, the Miranda Rights were not given to Jesus during his interrogation.
Jesus willingly Incriminated himself, and for this he was sentenced to death.
The Lord knew what he was doing.
Ernesto Miranda was guilty of his crimes and rightly convicted, Jesus was convicted for your crimes.
He would be punished for your offences, and his blood would be spilt for your sins.
Jesus willingly incriminated himself for you.
You are your own witness against yourself. Your guilt is sure.
Jesus took that which was beyond reasonable doubt against you, upon himself.
If you will believe it, you are free.
Jesus Saved You from the Penalty of your sin
John MacArthur F. .. Jr., The Vanishing Conscience, Electronic ed., (Dallas: Word Pub., 1994), 36.
The golden law of Thelema by Satanist Alister Crowley