February 10, 2010

Torah as Conscience Pricker

“If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.”
(Leviticus 6:2–5 ESV)

Clearly there is a place for the conscience in Torah.  Torah is much more than law (as it is often defined as) - if it were merely law a passage like this would not exist.   Law is designed for governments to punish law-breakers (very impersonal) here is something else entirely - the law of the conscience (inherently personal).  This passage clearly calls for accountability of sin based upon the sinner’s conscience - Yahweh is providing a way to cover one’s sin, as well as restoring the seared conscience of the sinner.  This teaching differs greatly from modern laws in that instead of merely offering justice and repayment for the sinned against and punishment for the sinner it offers restitution and forgiveness for the sinner.  The result is holy living vs. unholy legalism.

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