Friday, April 20, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/20/2012
RESURRECTING A DEAD CONSCIENCE, Lesson 52c
HOW THE CONSCEINCE IS STIRRED
The brothers of Joseph have allowed their hearts to become hard. They have “seared” their consciences and have ceased to feel. In these verses, the Lord uses several events to bring their consciences back to life. By the way, God knows how to rip the callous right off a hard heart! Let’s watch Him do just that in these verses.
God Used Problems To Stir Them – The problem God orchestrated to awaken the dead consciences of these men was a worldwide famine, (Gen. 41:56-57). These men would have had no reason to go to Egypt otherwise! In fact, I believe they knew where Joseph was taken when they sold him as a slave, (Gen. 37:28). And, I believe that fact is exactly what they are thinking about in verse 1 when Jacob said, “Why do ye look one upon another?”
These men had also heard that there was grain in down Egypt. They were probably thinking, “Egypt! That’s where Joseph is! If we go down there we might run into him.” The famine has begun to awaken in them some feelings they had buried long ago.
God Used People To Stir Them – So, these boys head out to Egypt. Their father refuses to allow them to take Benjamin with them. Jacob’s words in verse 4 seem to indicate that Jacob still had some doubts about their involvement in Joseph’s disappearance. The whole story just didn’t make sense to the old man.
When the brothers arrive in Egypt, Joseph recognizes them right away, (v. 6-8). Joseph had probably been waiting and watching for them to show up. They don’t recognize him because he has adopted Egyptian dress and appearance. The Hebrews dressed in long robes. The Egyptians wore short ones. The Hebrews wore beards. Egyptian men shaved both their faces and their heads.
Joseph uses this opportunity to turn the screws on these men. He speaks roughly to them, (v. 7). He accuses them of being spies, (v. 9).
God Used Pain To Stir Them – When they are accused of being spies they try to defend themselves, (v. 10-14). Then, Joseph concocts a plan to really make them sweat. First, He demands that they send one of their number back home to get Benjamin and bring him back as proof of their story, (v. 15-16). They protest and Joseph throws them in prison for three days, (v. 17). Then, Joseph allows nine of the brothers to return home to get Benjamin while one of them remains behind in prison, (v. 20).
Having no choice, that is what they do! I went through all of that to remind you that God will do what it takes to awaken your conscience when you allow it to become seared. These men would have never thought of Joseph again had it not been for the famine. The famine drove them to Egypt. The trip to Egypt brought them face to face with their brother. Their treatment in Egypt awakened thoughts in their hearts that had lain dormant for two decades. God used some harsh measures to get their attention, but He has them where He wants them. He has them on the road to repentance and renewal.
If you belong to the Lord and you allow your conscience to become hardened, you need to know that you are going to wander off into sin. Your conscience will cease to warn you of evil and you will fall away. But, if you are His, He will not allow you to remain in that condition forever. He will come and get you and He will use whatever it takes to awaken your conscience.
For Joseph’s brothers, God used problems, people and pain. For David, God used a man of God who was willing to confront a king and also used the death of a child. For Samson, God used a Philistine prison, the loss of his eyes and the loss of his strength. For Peter, God used a little girl at a Roman fire. Who knows what He will have to use in your life and mine. But, one thing is sure, He will use whatever it takes to get our attention and to resurrect the conscience we have tried to kill, (Gal. 6:7-8).
HOW THE CONSCIENCE IS SAVED
As this story continues, the brothers have reached a place where their consciences have come back to life. They are certain that their troubles all stem from their treatment of Joseph. They confess their sin, (v. 21-23), not knowing that Joseph could understand their language. A secret that has remained buried for 20 years bubbles to the surface.
He sends the nine brothers home and keeps Simeon in prison. He sends his brothers home with the grain they need to live. He also puts their money back in their sacks, (v. 24-28). When they find this, they are filled with fear and with the conviction that God is actively working in their lives, (v. 28). They think that God is out to get them for what they have done. They think that God is intent on their destruction. In reality, God is intent on bringing them back to Himself. As I said, God knows how to get our attention!
If we can take anything away from this chapter today, it is the truth that the conscience can be cleansed. If we have allowed our conscience to become dirty and damaged, it can be restored. Let me take a moment to tell you how to restore your conscience to a place of purity.
1. Confess and forsake all known sin – Consider your life in the light of the Word of God. Deal with your sins God’s way and get them out into the open through confession, (Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9; Psa. 32:5). That is what Joseph’s brothers did and it is what we need to do as well.
2. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation for all those you may have wronged – Before we can be right with God, we must be right with our fellow man, (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:14-15).
3. Make restitution to those you have wronged if possible – The Old Testament commanded this, (Num. 5:6-7), and the New Testament reaffirms this as well, (Philemon 19; Luke 19:8).
4. Don’t wait to cleanse a wounded conscience – When you have violated your conscience by ignoring its voice, deal with your guilt immediately, ( Acts 24:16). If you allow the guilt to remain, it will fester and your spiritual life will only deteriorate. You will experience depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. The guilt will remain long after the offense has been forgotten. Get things right fast!
5. Educate your conscience – If you have a conscience that is easily violated, train it in the things of the Lord. Feed it the pure Word of God and not the teachings and traditions of men, ( Psa. 119:11). We must not train the conscience based on what our parents say; based on what old traditions have taught us, or based on what some preacher said. To have a pure conscience, we must train it on the Word of God alone. Let the Bible be your only guide for living and your conscience will become a trustworthy friend!
Conc: People may silence the conscience in this life, but one day, it will speak up loud and clear! When you stand at the judgment, your conscience will agree with every judgment handed down by Holy God. Every person needs to look within and examine the condition of his or her conscience.
Is your conscience pure? Is it helping you live for the Lord as it sounds the alarm when you approach thin ice in your life?
Has your conscience been telling you to “Pull up?” What has your response been? Have you been pulling up? Or, have you been saying, “Shut up, Gringo”, as you flip the switch and kill the system?
Maybe your conscience hasn’t spoken to you in a long time. Today would be a good time for you to come before the Lord and start the process of purifying your soiled and seared conscience.
Has the Lord spoken to you today? If He has, please come to Him and do what He is calling you to do.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Bring Christ Your Broken Life” By T. O. CHISHOLM (1935)
Bring Christ your broken life, So marred by sin. He will create anew, Make whole again.
Your empty wasted years He will restore, And your iniquities, Remember no more
Bring Him your every care if great or small whatever troubles you oh, bring it all
Bring him the haunting fears the nameless dread thy heart he will relieve and lift up thy head
Bring HIm your weariness receive his rest Weep out your blinding tears upon his breast
His love is wonderful his power is great and none that trust in him shall be desolate
Blest Saviour of us all almighty friend! His presence shall be ours unto the end
without him life would be how dark how drear but with him morning breaks and Heaven is near!
INVITE A FRIEND TO THE TEAM!