THE AWAKENING OF CONSCIENCE

Scripture Reading: Genesis 42:1-25

“Then they said to one another, ‘In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.'” (Genesis 42:21)

We come to a part of Genesis that shows God’s dealings with Joseph’s brothers. Joseph’s older brothers in many ways were godless men. They lacked character, did immoral things, and had done a horrible thing to Joseph when they planned to kill him but instead sold him into slavery. But now God is going to work on them. At times, the hand of God can be heavy. Sometimes it takes that to awaken our consciences and to lead us to repentance.

Joseph put his brothers to the test. When the brothers arrived in Egypt, they did not recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognized them. When they asked for grain, Joseph accused them of being spies. He ordered that Simeon be bound until the others returned with their youngest brother, Benjamin. These circumstances led to the awakening of their consciences.

First, the brothers acknowledged their guilt — “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother.” They admitted their sin against Joseph. The situation in which the brothers found themselves intensified their guilt even more.

Second, the brothers memories were refreshed — “We saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen.” The details of their horrible sin came back to them. They remembered what they had done. Memory is an effective tool in God’s hands. It brings back awareness of unconfessed sins and it allows us to confess them and let them go.

Third, the brothers began to reason spiritually — “That is why this distress has come upon us.” They realized that there was a connection between their sin and the consequences they were experiencing. They faced up to the reality of their sin and guilt.

The Holy Spirit ultimately is the one who awakens our consciences. He will bring to memory sins that we have not dealt with. He allows us to face difficult circumstances to refresh our memories. He leads us to confession and repentance.

Joseph’s brothers experience harsh treatment at the hands of Joseph (vs. 6-16). They were placed in prison for three days (v. 17). God used physical imprisonment to give them time to ponder their situation. We are introduced to the brothers’ thoughts only after Joseph released them from three days in prison.

God desires for us to have clear consciences. He wants us to be honest about our sins and to turn to Him for forgiveness and cleansing. We must be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit within us. He will awaken our consciences and lead us to repentance when we are open to Him.

O Spirit of God, thank You for the many times You have opened my heart and mind to Your presence and work in me. Thank You for awakening my conscience to sin and leading me to confession and repentance. Enable me to be sensitive to Your work in my life.

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