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Whose Conscience is Seared?

April 18, 2007

If you are ever tried by the affliction of having to argue with a legalist, he might tell you that the reason you won’t submit to his extrabiblical holiness codes is that your conscience is seared.  That is, the Holy Spirit has been trying and trying to convict you of your winebibbing, but you’ve resisted him so long that now your conscience is seared and that’s why you can’t see the plain truth and won’t put down the demon likker.

Well now, let’s look at the text:

1 Timothy 4:1-3  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,  through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Before I do my touchdown dance, read that again, I’ll wait here…   Isn’t that something!  It’s the people who teach abstinence who have their consciences seared! 

How does this work?  Ask yourself:  What must happen in someone’s heart for him to become the kind of jerk who would go around making up extrabiblical rules for other people?   To take on that posture of self-originating moral superiority, he must have suppressed his awareness of his own sin.  He must have become an “insincere liar” as the text says.  The fact is that the holiest saint in the world sins every day in word, thought, and deed.  If you think you don’t because you are obeying some man-made holiness code, your conscience is seared.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2007 11:30 am

    I can’t believe you signed on the BHT. Did you check with Eric before you did that?

  2. April 19, 2007 11:37 am

    No, I didn’t. Do you think I should have? I hope he doesn’t call for my dismissal tonight at elder meeting! (JN) as they say at the BHT.

  3. April 19, 2007 1:09 pm

    *lights a candle for poor Mikey in care of Frank* ;)

    I use this verse often when speaking to Roman Catholics for it relates directly to Holy Days of Obligation and the celibacy of the priesthood.

    The NIV translates verse two nicely: “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Hypocrites say one thing and do another and act as if they do not do what they are guilty of themselves as your legalist example shows. However, I’d add one caution here.

    Not all legalists have their consciences seared, many sincerely believe that they are simply pursuing holiness correctly and earnestly. I was under that sorta teaching for quite some time and truly believed I was honoring God by my behavior and felt that I was righteously angry when someone went against that. I learned that I was wrong, but it came at the end of years of consistent teaching. I believe that the verse speaks more directly to the teachers (ie-the originators and propagators) of these teachings rather than the misled follower.

    So I issue that caution because we want to make sure that we are in line with this charge also from Paul to Timothy:
    2 Timothy 2:24-26 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. “

  4. April 19, 2007 3:38 pm

    Agreed.

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