Thursday, April 19, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/19/2012
RESURRECTING A DEAD CONSCIENCE, Lesson 52b
I. HOW THE CONSCIENCE IS SEARED
If you remember the story of the early years of Joseph’s life, you will remember that his brothers sold him as a slave, killed an animal, put the animal’s blood on their brother’s coat, brought the coat their father and told him that they had found the coat. Jacob assumed the worst; he bought into the lie and declared that Joseph must have been killed by a wild animal, (Gen. 37:31-33). Then, old Jacob entered a time of mourning that lasted over 20 years.
As they sold their brother and watched his captors haul him away, it must have tugged at their hearts. When they lied to their father and saw the grief and anguish on his face, and as they lived with that grief year after year, it must have touched them on some level. But, as time passed, the feelings of remorse and guilt were silenced. After a while, they probably thought of Joseph less and less. They may have even come to the place where they believed their own lies. These brothers seared their consciences! They came to the place where their hearts stopped speaking to them about their guilt!
The Bible tells us that it is possible for a person to do just that. 1 Tim. 4:2 says, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” This verse refers to people who have ignored their conscience to the point that it no longer speaks to them. They have silenced the warning system until it can no longer be hard.
In 1984 an Avianca Airlines jet, flying over Spain, crashed into a mountain. Everyone on board the jet died instantly. When investigators found the “black box” they were amazed as they listened to the cockpit recording in the minutes just prior to the crash. The plane’s collision avoidance system began to speak to the pilot, warning him of an object that was in the flight path of the plane. The computerized voice of a female speaking English was heard to say, “Pull up. Pull up. Pull up”, over and over again. After a few moments of this, the pilot was heard to say, “Shut up Gringo!” And with that, the pilot turned off the system. He just ignored the warning, flipped the switch and few moments later, everyone was dead.
That is what happens when the conscience is ignored! When we start to do something we know is wrong, the conscience tells us to “Pull up. Pull up.” If we heed that voice and pull up, all is well. If we ignore that voice and do as we please, we have begun the process of “searing the conscience”. The next time, the voice of the conscience will not be heard as loudly or as clearly. If we continue to ignore our internal warning system, the conscience will eventually stop warning us at all.
Every time we ignore the voice of the conscience, we are retraining the conscience. We are teaching it that things which it believed were harmful are now all right. When we retrain the conscience, we are not headed toward a crash!
Of course, our culture tells us that we need to “silence the voice of guilt”. They say that only weak people have problems with right and wrong, because there really is no right or wrong. Everything is relative! Our culture tries to silence conscience.
We need to be very careful about how we treat the conscience! If the conscience tells us something is harmful, we need to heed the voice of the conscience. It is dangerous to go against the conscience when it sends out a warning signal. If we ignore the signals it sends us, we will eventually silence the voice of the conscience. When the conscience says “Pull up!” We must never say “Shut up, Gringo!”
There were some church members who had an old lab dog. They kept that dog in their yard and they used one of those invisible fences gadget to keep the dog in. Those things work by inflicting an electrical shock through a color on the dog’s neck when he gets too close to the fence. Before the dog gets a shock, however, he gets a series of beeps. These beeps are a warning sign that the dog needs to turn around or he is going to get into trouble.
Well, this old dog knew what that fence could do, but if he saw something outside that yard that he wanted, so he would still go get it. That dog would back up as far away from the fence as he could get. He would bare his teeth and he would start to run toward the fence. Before he got to it, he would start to howl and he would run right through the pain.
That dog learned that if he ran far enough, he would get beyond the range of the fence. The pain would stop and he could go where he wanted. He ignored the warning signals so he could escape the fences in his life.
People who ignore the warning signals in their conscience are doing the same thing. They ignore the pain in their heart and they keep running until the signal stops. That is a dangerous game!
As I said, the conscience must be trained. The conscience is not infallible. It only knows what it has been taught. As a result, some people have an overactive conscience. They are referred to in Romans 14 and 15 as weak. People who have been raised in an atmosphere of legalism, and who have been taught that everything is wrong tend to have a very sensitive conscience. They may believe that some things are wrong, when those things are, in fact, not wrong at all. The conscience can be trained by tradition. That person needs to retrain the conscience by teaching it the truth of the Word of God.
By the same token, some believers have a strong conscience and know that they have liberty in the Lord. However, they must always take into account their weaker brothers. They must not do things that would cause a brother with a weaker conscience to violate his conscience. That is the clear teaching of (1 Cor. 8:1-13; Rom 14:1-8).
Be careful that you do not “sear” your conscience! The word “sear” gives our word “cauterize”. When a wound is cauterized, heat is used to seal off blood vessels to stop bleeding. The word originally meant “to brand; to mark by branding”. Branding causes a scar and a scar had no nerve endings; it cannot feel! A conscience that becomes seared is a conscience that ceases to feel! Don’t let that happen to you!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Lord, Take Control” By UNKNOWN
My Heart, my mind, my body, my soul,
I give to You, Take control.
I give my body a living sacrifice,
Lord, take control, take control.
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