Hebrews 13:18

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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
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[bible]Hebrews 13:18[/bible]

Would you say, based on this verse, that having a good conscience is defined as willingness to live well in all things, or with Owen, that such a willingness is a fruit and evidence of the good conscience?

The testimony of his having a good conscience consists in this, that he was “willing in all things to live honestly.” A will, resolution, and suitable endeavor, to live honestly in all things, is a fruit and evidence of a good conscience. Being willing, denotes readiness, resolution, and endeavor; and this extends to “all things;” that is, wherein conscience is concerned, or our whole duty towards God and men. The expression of “living honestly,” as it is commonly used, doth not reach the emphasis of the original. A beauty in conversation, or exact eminency therein, is intended. This was the design of the apostle in all things; and ought to he so of all ministers of the gospel, both for their own sakes, as unto what is in an especial manner required of them, as also that they may be examples unto the people.

In other words, does a good conscience consist in a sincere desire to do right in all your duties, or does that sincere desire come from having a good conscience already?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Assurance is a reflex act. The "willing in all things to live honestly" must be the effect of "conscience," and the discernment of this willingness in oneself leads to the conclusion that the conscience is "good," i.e., that it can testify to the praiseworthiness of the man's actions.

"Clear" is a poor translation and might suggest that conscience only functions negatively to either accuse or acquit (clear) of wrongdoing, whereas "good" indicates a positive function in which welldoing is encouraged and praised.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
So only those who have a good conscience will be willing to live honestly, but therefore those who are so willing can be assured that their conscience is good?

That would seem supported by the fact that a form of kalos is used for "good" conscience and "good" living.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So only those who have a good conscience will be willing to live honestly, but therefore those who are so willing can be assured that their conscience is good?

I take "good" to be the judgment of conscience. As an evil conscience is one which condemns the man for doing ill, so a good conscience is one which commends the man for doing well. On this basis, the willingness to live honestly is a pre-requisite for the commending judgment of conscience.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
But if it is a pre-requisite, how is it also a fruit and evidence? I imagine there is something I am not understanding, but it seems like they are two distinct ways of looking at conscience.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But if it is a pre-requisite, how is it also a fruit and evidence? I imagine there is something I am not understanding, but it seems like they are two distinct ways of looking at conscience.

I am suggesting it is a fruit of "conscience" rather than "good conscience." Usually assurance requires the reflection of conscience to produce it, but in this case the assurance concerns the judgment of conscience itself. In order to show that this judgment of "good" has a solid basis he appeals to the willingness to live honestly as fulfilling the conditions necessary for the conscience to commend the man's actions as good.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I think I begin to see - it is plain that I have not considered the question of what conscience does and how it operates in sufficient detail.

His judgment (made by conscience) is that his conscience is good.
His evidence that his conscience is good is his willingness to live honestly.
Since the verdict of his conscience aligns with reality, it is demonstrated that his conscience is good.

Is that any closer? I still feel that I'm missing something.
 
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