A Christian response to an original post in the “Atheists vs Christians Debate Central 101” Facebook Group asking the question: “What is remorse? Is it our moral compass bestowed by the almighty or a chemical reaction? Maybe both?”
Premise: Remorse is the reaction of the human conscience in response to an action or behavior via personal volition/free will that offends the moral law as that law is written within the spirit of mankind at conception in the womb by our Creator.
Note: Scriptural evidence exists in the generations preceding the Law of Commandments given at Sinai demonstrating the truism that God’s Moral Law, enumerated on the Tablets of Stone given Moses, existed within the heart of man from the generation of Adam forward.
Free Will, Moral Law and the Conscience – Origin
Our Creator, Jesus-Yeshua/Elohim, is Spirit and He created man in His spiritual image.
It is written…
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27 (NASB)
Having been created in the image of the Living God on the 6th-Day, mankind inherited certain attributes from God e.g. love, language, creativity, holiness, immortality, wisdom, discernment, compassion, free will/freedom.
God desires relationship with His created beings, both angelic and human, and the supreme ethic given mankind by God is LOVE; in order for love to manifest in purity and authenticity, one must possess the ability to choose love or hate, right or wrong, good or evil, life or death, servitude to Jesus Christ or servitude to Satan. Without the ability to choose to love or to hate, one cannot love in purity and authenticity; therefore, relationship with our Creator cannot manifest in purity, holiness, authenticity, unless mankind possesses the ability to reject said relationship. Without free will, mankind becomes robotic; therefore, love becomes robotic, predictable and thus impotent.
Free will carries with it the potential for great evil as well as great good. Through the moral law and the conscience and remorse, God the Holy Spirit urges mankind to choose good over evil, righteousness over iniquity but mankind’s free will remains paramount. It is man’s sin-nature inherited from our earthly father, Adam, that wars against the Moral Law written upon our heart at conception. It is the conscience and remorse within mankind that attempts to mediate the struggle between the moral law seeking righteousness v. the sin-nature seeking rebellion to God’s moral law as mankind’s inherited propensity is to compromise with “moral relativism” i.e. SIN or “If it feels good, do it!”
As it is written…
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25 (NASB)
The Indwelling Moral Law
The moral law is infused in the spirit of mankind at conception by God out of necessity for at least two-reasons:
1) The protection/sustainability of mankind.
2) In order that judgment for violations of the moral law i.e. SIN can manifest in equity via due process both in Time and in Eternity.
1. Moral Law is essential for the sustainability of mankind.
Even mankind, in his endeavor for equitable jurisprudence, mandates that the criminal law, based on God’s Moral Law/Natural Law, be clearly articulated as well as the punishment for violations of the criminal law be clearly articulated and published and accessible to those citizens governed by the rule of law. The criminal law is published in a statutory format (Model Penal Code, Municipal, County, State and Federal law publications) designating the statutory elements that explain each law and detail what antisocial behaviors are prohibited in order that a society, governed by the rule of law, might exist in peace and equity and fairness and sustainability. All criminal law in the United States seeks a form of protective legislation to defend a citizen’s unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Without a law-statute having been clearly articulated and defined via legislation and that law-legislation made readily available through publication for viewing by the citizenry, there exists no offense.
This very same concept of equity/due process in jurisprudence is relevant to God’s Moral Law that is etched on the heart of mankind at conception void the written statutes of the Ten-Commandments and/or the 613-Levitical Laws given to the Children of Israel. Scriptural evidence clearly depicts God’s indwelling Moral Law in effect from Adam’s generation forward. The “Covenant of Law,” established by God with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is a separate dispensation for the children of Israel as they were specifically set-apart for God’s purposes as a chosen people-group through whom God would chronicle His Covenant with mankind and bring forth Messiah Yeshua as a blessing to every family of the Earth.
It is written concerning the Children of Israel…
‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.” Leviticus 20:26 (NASB)
God’s moral law, written on the heart defines those behaviors that mankind intuitively knows are necessary for the protection and sustainability of mankind. Every man and woman, cognitively acute and having attained an age of reason, intuitively knows that murder, assault i.e. physically/emotionally harming another, theft-robbery, adultery, rape, pedophilia, sexual immorality, lying, deceit, are antisocial behaviors warring against the general welfare thus deserving of punishment necessary to discourage the continuance of destructive behavior; mankind intuitively knows these antisocial behaviors are morally repulsive even without the antisocial conduct articulated in written statutes or formal decree by a governing entity.
2. Moral Law essential for God’s Judgment…
God’s moral law, having been written upon the heart of mankind at conception, is also necessary for Judgment in Eternity to manifest in equity via due process. The Holy Spirit has told us that where there is no Law there is no offense/sin; therefore, in order for God’s Judgment of sin in Eternity to manifest in equity with due process, the Moral law/Natural law/Eternal law of God must be infused within man’s spirit at the genesis of life i.e. conception. It is God’s Moral Law that will be the standard used at the Great White Throne Judgment in Eternity where every man and woman who has rejected Jesus Christ and His pardon from sin/violations of the Moral Law will be adjudicated before suffering the “second death” in the “Lake of Fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). The Great White Throne Judgment is necessary, in accordance with God’s perfect justice, as the destructive nature of sin will NOT be permitted to enter God’s Eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:27).
Where there is no law, there is no sin or culpability…
It is written… (underlining added for emphasis)
“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.” Romans 4:13-15 (NASB)
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” Romans 5:12-14 (NASB)
The Moral Law written upon the heart of mankind…
Concerning the Moral Law written upon man’s heart by God, the Apostle Paul, teaching and narrating by the inspiration of God’s Spirit, explains God’s Eternal law/Natural law in the following Scripture:
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” Romans 2:14-16 (NASB)
The Law, Conscience and Remorse demonstrated in The Garden
Evidence of God’s Moral Law etched upon the heart of the first man, Adam, and Adam’s wife, Eve, is firmly rooted in the rebellion of Adam and his rejection of God’s Covenant of provision and sustenance. The very moment that Adam conspired with his wife, Eve, to reject God’s edict concerning compromise with evil, they both died spiritually; the ramifications of disobedience to God’s perfect Law was manifest through the conscience of both Adam and Eve as they experienced remorse exemplified by shame and fear.
It is written… (underlined text is mine for emphasis)
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:6-13 (NASB)
It is in Adam’s rebellion to God that the first evidence of man’s conscience and remorse are manifest via the natural resultants of sin which are fear, spiritual death-separation from God, shame, obfuscation-refusal to accept responsibility for one’s culpability. So then, we see that the conscience of mankind is inexorably linked to remorse which is inexorably linked to the Moral Law as written upon man’s heart at conception.
The ramifications of rejecting God’s Law through unbelief…
Though God the Father is patient and desires that all men come to a knowledge of the Truth concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thereby finding Eternal Life in His Name by grace through faith, God’s Spirit does NOT strive with the impenitent heart, the rebellious heart, the wicked heart, forever (2 Peter 3:9). The Holy Spirit, working through the Apostle Paul in Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome, clearly articulates the step-by-step process of falling-away from God’s grace/mercy and the “depraved mind” internalized by a man or woman who continually rejects God’s offer of salvation.
The Atheist, though unaware of the incremental process manifesting in their life, will grow increasingly insensitive to the Holy Spirit’s urging to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as they daily walk in rebellion to God’s love and pardon from death in sin and death in Hell. The Holy Spirit’s call upon the life of the Atheist and the Holy Spirit’s invitation to redemption and Eternal Life by faith in Christ grows increasingly faint with each passing day until that call is no longer perceptible and the way home to God’s peace, mercy and Eternal Life becomes obscured in darkness and complete spiritual blindness.
Concerning those who do not believe in Jesus as Lord…
“…in whose case the god of this world[Satan]has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB)
In the following Scripture, note the incremental pattern of falling-away from God’s will for one’s life as a person continually and without remorse pursues moral relativism, aberrant sensuality, rebellion, in their denial of our Creator’s reality, dominion, authority over their life. (Underlining is mine for emphasis)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:18-32 (NASB)
In closing, it is necessary to remind the Atheist and anyone else who rejects Jesus Christ as Lord for the mediation of sin that the Age of Grace remains in effect for a man or woman as long as they are living in this body constrained by the Realm of Time. At the point of death of the body in Time there remains no grace but only impending Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Today is the day of salvation and I urge everyone who has taken the time to read through this article that they sit quietly and diligently, carefully, read through the “Gospel of John” in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. I urge everyone to study this Gospel and make an informed decision concerning their Eternal destiny.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Gospel of John 3:16-22 (NASB)