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Help Us to Listen More and More to Our Consciences
Today’s passage is instructive. “It is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.” This points to something that is present in all of us, something that was put there by the Creator. That something is our conscience. It is a natural instinct that makes it possible for even those who have never heard the law of God to know the difference between right and wrong. Paul recognizes that the Gentiles have this gift of conscience too: “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. 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 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (verses 14-16). God has given the instinct of conscience to all people. Conscience is that inner capacity that we all are aware of that inwardly recognizes the moral rightness or wrongness of a given act that we are about to do, or are in the process of doing, or that we have already done. It is that inner “voice,” that inner argument that the cartoons depict between the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other before or while we are doing something. This is the struggle between the temptation to do something that we know is wrong, or to remain true to what we know is the good. After the fact, it is that feeling of guilt that comes to us when we know we have done…