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New Testament: Romans 2:1-24
Summary: God’s Righteous Judgment, God’s Judgment and the Law
Gentiles, . . . although not having the law, are a law to themselves, . . . their conscience also bearing witness. — Romans 2:14-15
One of William Shakespeare’s most intriguing characters is Lady Macbeth. Having heard a prophecy that her husband would become king, she convinced him to assassinate the reigning monarch. When the bloody deed was done, Macbeth was conscience-stricken. His wife rebuked his squeamishness and helped him cover up the crime. Her husband was crowned king. But that wasn’t the end.
Lady Macbeth’s initial resolve turned to remorse. She grew mentally unstable, and couldn’t stop washing her hands. “Will these hands ne’er be clean?” she asked. Finally, the guilt drove Lady Macbeth to suicide.
Guilt is an emotion that can weigh us down whenever we cross a moral boundary. All of us are capable of feeling guilty when we violate the law of God written in our hearts (Romans 2:14-15). If we continue to sin willfully, however, we will dull our conscience.
Lady Macbeth is a good reminder of a biblical principle: Whatever we sow, we will certainly reap (Galatians 6:7-8). When we feel temptation, we need to listen to our conscience—not try to silence it. It’s far better to avoid committing an act we will later regret than to live with the consequences.