Reading: Genesis 3:7

While something died in Adam and Eve at the fall there was a gracious awakening of a moral consciousness: “They knew that they were naked.” The conscience is an inner awareness which either excuses what we do or accuses us of wrongdoing. It brings together our knowledge of the law of God, written on our heart, with the knowledge of our own actions.

The events in the Garden of Eden and the working of sin in our own lives today reveal a pattern. Sin blinds the conscience, sedates it with soothing words and promises. But perhaps the worst thing is that sin waits until it has accomplished its work before it makes itself felt. It is then that regret begins to eat us up like a poison, like Adam and Eve when “they knew that they were naked.” Throughout Scripture it is the same pattern in men like David (Psalm 32:3-4) and like Samson who got up from the lap of his lover and went out, not realising “that the Lord had departed from him.”

The poison of sin not only corrupts everything it touches but penetrates everything it corrupts. Adam and Eve were promised they would “know of good and evil,” but the knowledge of evil was not what they expected it to be. It was knowledge of sin from the inside. The power of the aftershocks of sin is in the “knowing”; it is not only intellectual but by personal, bitter experience.

Temptation blinds us, but guilt opens our eyes, shows us who we really are and what we have really done. We feel ourselves, like Adam, bereft from the fellowship of God and exposed to the wrath of God. Conscience, as we have noted, is a gracious awakening, like a magnetic needle pointing us in the right direction. This is the grace of God, awakening us to sin and showing us there is forgiveness with God (Psalm 103:4).

“He was a fool who killed the watchdog because it alarmed him when thieves were breaking into his house. If conscience upbraids you, feel its upbraiding and heed its rebuke. It is your best friend.”

C. H. Spurgeon

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