This is the third instalment in a discussion on the Government of God, reflecting Paul’s description of God’s authority hierarchy in 1Corinthians 11:3.
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3
We have already noted that God is actively involved in human experience by His personal intervention and by His prescribed authority structures. God’s government is centred in 2 key locations, the throne and the home. It is both divine and domestic.
God’s Government over human experience is remarkably direct. Rather than having to work through a convoluted infrastructure of multi-layered levels of authority, people are subject to immediate accountability before God.
God exercises this government by His personal claim over the hearts and lives of each individual. Each person has a personal account with God and either qualifies for God’s blessings and graces, or for God’s judgements.
God’s Word, the Bible, is given by God to guide the actions of men and to lead them into a blessed relationship with God. Parents are to teach godly morality to their children, instructing the heart of the child and disciplining the actions of the child, so the child obeys God and glorifies Him through their whole life.
A primary personal mechanism which God uses to exercise His government over the individual is the human conscience. Our conscience alerts us to our actions and attitudes which are not pleasing to God.
Humans are expected to understand truth and to come to their own convictions about that truth. As sovereign entities answerable directly to God it is an immoral action to demand that a person violate their conscience. This is the reason why the right to object to an imposition, based on conscience, is enshrined in the law of many countries. The right to engage in ‘conscientious objection’ is acknowledgement of the divine significance of the human conscience.
For example, a person may believe that it is evil to kill another, even in warfare. When their civil government calls on them to take up arms they may object that they could not pull the trigger as that would bring them under God’s divine judgement. In such cases, once the person has been able to prove the vitality of their conscience, they will be assigned non-combat duties.
Divinity of Human Conscience
Human conscience is not respected because of its human value, but because of its divine merit. The issue in a case of conscientious objection is not how well the person will sleep at night. That is simply a human consideration, like “do you like this or not?” If a person’s conscience will simply make them feel uncomfortable then that is just human self-indulgence.
Human conscience has its greatest validity when it brings a person into conflict or relationship with God. When conscience causes a person to experience a breach of fellowship with God, then the government of God is relevant to the issue.
If a person is ordered to lie, steal, cheat, kill or commit sexual sin then the person’s moral conscience before God is threatened. They cannot do those things in all good conscience because they will experience moral guilt which will separate them from a moral and holy God.
The Conscious Human
I heard some people discussing their conscience recently. A lady said that she could not endure a certain process being followed because her conscience would not sit right with it. The other person said, “Yes, isn’t conscience a miserable thing?” They were both recognising that they were restrained and motivated by their personal conscience. Others might have happily allowed an injustice to be perpetrated but these two people could not sit by and allow that to happen.
Sadly not all humans are conscious of their conscience. It is possible to abuse the conscience, and even to so abuse it as to stop it from speaking up about moral issues. Some people act as if their conscience did not exist. This is most likely because they or others have violated their conscience and it has become seared, or calloused, so that it is no longer tender and sensitive to godly morality.
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” 1Timothy 4:2
The Inaccurate Conscience
Conscience is a powerful tool in the government of God. God is able to direct and restrain people through their conscience. Since people are directly accountable to God it is important that their conscience is alive and tender.
However it is possible for our conscience to be inaccurate. We may have be given social or religious programming which makes us feel guilty about things which are not an offence to God. This is where parents, religion and the culture are accountable before God for their abuses of the conscience of others.
God is supreme, including supreme over our conscience. This is why the Apostle John says that even if our conscience accuses us we may not be guilty. He points out that God is greater than our conscience.
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” 1Jo 3:20
This is an important point, because evolutionists and sociologists suggest that religion evolved as a response to the human need for such things. However John points out that God’s primal existence is supreme over the inner motivations of man, including man’s conscience
The Violated Conscience
One of the important processes in assisting people is to show them how to resolve their violated conscience. Sometimes this involves showing them that the things over which they feel guilty are of no moral weight before God’s throne. If God is not condemning them then it is a tragedy that they should live as if condemned.
Families, cultures, governments and religions impose protocols and expectations on people outside of God’s moral requirements. Failure to meet these expectations can effectively separate people from God because their conscience condemns them, even though God does not.
Where people have been out of order and violated God’s moral requirements it is our privilege to bring them into God’s presence to repent of their sins, putting their trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for absolution of their sins. In that process we restore the primal relationship, that of God and His created child.
The Gospel is therefore part of the Government of God, because it is able to restore people to a right standing before God. No civil, religious or domestic process can do this, just the prescribed application of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.