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The Problem of Seared Conscience

Words of Faith Final

The Problem of Seared Conscience
Words of Faith 5-24-2023
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2023
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Timothy 4
[1] The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. [2] Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

Paul used an image found nowhere else in Scripture-- the searing of the conscience as with a hot iron. The word used describes a branding iron. In some sense, Paul was talking about the branding the enemy Satan that marks those he has seduced into following his ways. But this is more than a mark.
The Greek used for seared is kauteriazo, from which we get the word to cauterize. Cauterization seals off blood flow but also damages nerve endings so that they are desensitized. The image is a considerable spiritual peril whereby a person loses the ability to discern moral truth or tell the difference between good and evil.
This was the spiritual state of the Pharisees, who accused Jesus of healing a woman by the power of Beelzebub. They could not even distinguish between the Holy Spirit of God and the ruler of darkness. Jesus described such a spiritual state in the direst of terms as "blaspheming the Holy Spirit."
This problem with such desensitization is quite severe. Paul wrote to the Ephesians warning of those who are "false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). He wrote to the Ephesians warning of those who "having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (4:19).
How does one become so desensitized that one can no longer discern the difference between Satan and God? While such desensitization might happen suddenly as if with a branding iron, it is more often that it develops slowly. The result is the same. We grow increasingly cauterized and desensitized when we gradually accept the world's ways. If we preach a Gospel that sets people free from addiction, violence, and prurient sensuality yet allows ourselves to be entertained in movies and media by those same themes, we open ourselves to a branding by the devil.
The desensitization process is well documented in cultures that are declining and rebelling against God. The behaviors that made one generation blush have become commonplace in the next generation. While some cultural misconceptions need correction, it is generally a slippery slope when believers slowly accept new norms that are not biblical or godly. There is a point at which everything seems relatively acceptable, and in the name of tolerance, no behavior is rejected.
So what do we do? Is the answer developing a new set of rules and legalisms? This was not the response that Paul called for in any of the first-century churches. But Paul would certainly caution the modern believer to listen carefully to the Spirit from whom this warning came. Pray for discernment in all matters concerning the spirit or the teaching of Scripture. And above all, keep the conscience tender.

Father God, cause Your Holy Spirit to walk carefully with me in this day. Help me, O Holy Spirit, to live in the world but not be of the world. Keep my conscience clear, but also keep it tender to Your leading and guidance. Give me discernment in every situation. In Jesus' Name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2023
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2023 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.