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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Get in Touch with Your Heart

And let your conscience do its work.

Law and Conscience (4)

…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing themRomans 2.14, 15

Self-actualization – discovering their true identity – is these days an item of concern for many people. The US Army exhorted us some years back to “Be all that you can be.” An old Sammy Davis, Jr. song insisted, “I gotta be me.” The frustration of achieving a sense of self-actualization was echoed by U2’s song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Films, literature, television programs, and all kinds of social media provide abundant examples of people who are trying to get in touch with themselves, discover who they really are, establish their true identity, and actualize what’s inside them trying to get out.

This is a very human activity, of course, a striving to know who we are in our heart of hearts. We know of no animals that fret and fuss and carry on about getting in touch with their heart.

But discovering an identity does seem to be an elusive objective. Psychologists and psychiatrists, as well as drug companies, make a living trying to help people sort through the confusion and uncertainty of life so that they can get in touch with their inner persons.

I think it’s probably the case that we all experience some cri de coeur, some anguished longing, angry protest, or other heart-felt sentiment, which we feel to be the real me, the person I’m meant to be; and we struggle to discover what it is that’s trying to break out of our heart into our authentic self.

“I gotta be me,” we cry, but learning who “me” is can be a frustrating challenge.

Willing to listen?
But it doesn’t have to be that big a struggle. Listening to our heart to discover why we’re here and who we’re meant to be isn’t a bad idea. The problem is that too many people are not really interested in knowing what’s in their heart; they’re interested in having in their heart, as well as in their lives, whatever it is they think will make them happy. Rather than let their heart speak to them, they spend their lives trying to tell their heart what it ought to feel, desire, aspire to, and finally come to love. They become jerked around by fleeting trends of identity-seeking as they work to shape their heart rather than listen to it.

If people truly listened to their heart, they would conclude as Augustine did in the opening chapter of his Confessions: “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” The image of God is stamped on every human soul, but many people have denied or ignored that fact, and have buried the knowledge of God under the detritus of a materialistic and sensual age (Rom. 1.18-32). They have seared their consciences to the truth of God and corrupted their hearts in a vain search for an identity other than that which God has created in them.

And here is yet another way in which the Law of God shows itself to be the Law of liberty, to which James refers in his epistle, which guides us into the true path of how we must live.

The Bible teaches that, in our heart of hearts, people are created to know and do the works of God’s Law. I know that seems unlikely. Just look around: Where’s the evidence that people are interested in knowing and doing the works of God’s Law?

But many people are deceived. They have denied or ignored that revelation of truth from God which could set them on a true path of self-knowledge. Or perhaps some spiritual power has led them to believe that true freedom, and thus true identity, is to be found in their own ideas or some passing fancy of the times, rather than in the deep but unheard inclination of their heart.

The Bible teaches that it is written on the spiritual fabric of every person’s soul to carry out the commandments of God (Rom. 2.14, 15). Only when we refuse to do so do we begin to run into trouble, for then we’re trying to be something we aren’t. We’re trying to be a law unto ourselves, rather than to follow what God has written on our heart, and our accusing conscience leaves us confused, uncertain, and burdened with guilt – at least, until our conscience becomes seared and hardened against the truth of who we really are.

We are made in the image of God, and not our own image, or that of the passing interests of the age. We will never be all that we can be, or ever discover what we’re looking for, until we let our heart do the speaking and tell us what God intends.

Made for the Law
The Law of God can help us to be what God has created us to be, because it teaches us plainly how we ought to live. Indeed, one of the primary features of the New Covenant is that God writes the Law – not just the works of the Law, but the Law itself – on the hearts of those who believe (Jer. 31.33; Ezek. 36.26, 27). Once a person comes to saving faith, what he “knew” instinctively, but probably suppressed and ignored, now comes stunningly to light – he is made, and has been redeemed, to live out the good works of the Law of God (Eph. 2.8-10).

As we take up the Law of God, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, we begin to sense, “Yes, this is what I was made for. This is right and true and good. This is God.” The saved heart resonates with the Law of God. The saved mind – the mind of Christ – gladly embraces it. And the saved conscience values the Law as the foundation and guide for loving God and men.

In the Law of God we find what we’ve been looking for, so that we can be all we’re meant to be. As we meditate on the Law of God we discover the “me” we’ve gotta be – made in God’s image, redeemed by His grace, called to His Kingdom and glory, and set on a course of glad obedience to His Law. We are liberated from the confusion, doubt, and anxiety of our own or the world’s best ideas, into the glorious light and liberty of the sons and daughters of God.

This is the work of God’s Spirit, as He restores the conscience and fills, sculpts, and transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ, according the teaching of God’s Law (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

For reflection
1.  Paul says God has written the works of the Law on the heart of every person. What evidence do you see that this is so? How is God re-writing His Law on hearts today? Whose?

2.   Paul says that people can allow their consciences to become seared, so that they no longer pay attention to the works of the Law written on their hearts (1 Tim. 4.1, 2). How does this happen? Do you think the Church today contributes to this problem in any way? Explain.

3.  Paul says in 1 Timothy 1.5 that love flows from a clean heart and a good conscience. What role does the Law of God have in this?

Next steps – Conversation: What are you learning about the work of the conscience that is new or helpful? Share something with a believing friend today.

T. M. Moore

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

Why does the Law of God still matter? How can we make best use of it? Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, addresses those questions in a winsome and conversational manner. Order your free copy by clicking here.

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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