The Challenge Of A Seared Conscience-Part 2
This post is part of a series on Challenges To Our Faith that you can find here. You can find the first post in the “Seared Conscience” class here.
The Challenge Of A Seared Conscience-Part 2
What are some ways that we can have our consciences seared today?
Well, I’m uniquely qualified to speak on this matter. Being surrounded every day by people who use foul language, I’ve become nearly immune to it. I don’t even hear it anymore. Megan and I can “test-watch” a movie for the boys and I won’t hear half of what she does. My conscience, that internal voice that tells me what is wrong or right, has become numb to foul language. Some curse words are referred to as “bombs” because of the shock value that they have. But that shock value doesn’t even have any effect on me any more because I’ve been seared.
Our conscience can be seared by constant exposure to sin. When we’re around it every day we’re the proverbial frog in hot water, becoming gradually accustomed to the hot water (sin) until we’re dead. Even if we don’t partake in the sin, it no longer has the shock factor that it once did and we don’t recognize it for what it really is.
And our conscience can be seared by partaking in sin that becomes habit. The problems with habits are that they remove choice from the equation. So often, the sins that we commit have nothing to do with temptation, they have to do with habit and being too lazy to change those habits.
Our habits are our automatic responses. They happen instantly without thought. Like an athlete who reacts to what he sees without conscience thought.
- A batter couldn’t think about hitting a 100mph fastball, he only has time to react to what he sees.
- A basketball player couldn’t think about dribbling, he can only react to what his body senses and knows is happening around him.
And our habits are what we’ve become so accustomed to doing that they’re automatic and without thought. Sin coupled with a seared conscience equals a habitual sin. The sin becomes our default.
Like the language that we use.
We know that the language that we use must be kept in check.
Ephesians 4:29—Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 5:4—Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
When our daily lives are full of foul language, it can stem from two possible issues—both related to the heart.
Matthew 15:18—But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
When foul language becomes the norm, it’s either because:
- Our hearts don’t know that it’s wrong.
- Our conscience doesn’t care.
- We’re lazy or apathetic (See #1).
If our consciences become seared to foul language, we can sometimes not even know we’re using it.
But if we do know, and don’t stop, it MUST be because we don’t know that it’s wrong, or don’t believe that God really cares about what he told us He cares about.
The apathy of knowing that we’re sinning and not caring enough to change our behavior is addressed in Hebrews 10:26-31—For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “ Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I don’t bring up Hebrews 10 to say that if your sin has become a habit that you’re doomed and you should just sit around dreading the judgment. I bring up Hebrews 10 to help us realize how dangerous our situation is.
If we choose sin, choose to not struggle against it, the problem isn’t the sin. The problem is our heart not wanting to serve God.
The problem with the sin of foul language is that after our consciences are seared it’s not a temptation anymore, it’s just a habit.
And that’s not a popular answer because there’s no trick or gimmick involved. But if you don’t want to sin, you have to CHOOSE TO NOT SIN.
I think it’s worthwhile to consider the difference between conduct and performance issues when talking about our sins of habit.
A performance problem is akin to telling our kids to clean up their rooms and them not being able to do a good job (a performance problem) and us telling our kids to clean up their room and them refusing to do it (a conduct problem).
Or an employee of a widget factory not being very good at making widgets (a performance problem) and the employee of a widget factory who refuses to show up to work on time (a conduct issue).
Performance issues need patience and guidance and assistance. Conduct issues just need to be corrected, and now. The kid who refuses to clean their room or the widget maker who refuses to come to work on time doesn’t need a performance improvement plan….they need immediate correction.
And the Christian who knows that they are doing wrong and refuses to correct their actions needs to admit that they need the same immediate correction.
When sin is the result of temptation we need spiritual help and guidance. But when sin becomes habit, the sin is no longer the result of temptation but is the result of our refusal to change. And that refusal needs to be dealt with spiritually and mentally. We need to mentally acknowledge that our sin has become a habit and work to change it just like we would any other habit.
Our conscience is a wonderful gift from God. But like any other gift that He’s given us we need to nurture it, protect it and make sure that we’re using it to serve God rather than ourselves. Because when we ignore our conscience and it becomes seared, we become those people in Hebrews who have “trampled underfoot the Son of God”.
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