“Reflection and Repentance” posts come from the time during our gathered worship where we focus on a command given by God. We explain it, talk about how we break it, confess our sin to God, and rejoice in His forgiveness.
Reflection & Repentance
1 Timothy 4:2 – “Through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.”
This verse was a warning to Timothy and to the people who were under his teaching to be careful of men who would lead people down the wrong path. The false things that they would teach were called “doctrine of demons,” and Paul says these men were devoted to “deceitful spirits.”
What is a seared conscience?
The warning I want to focus on is the “seared conscience.” How we have fallen into believing those with a “seared conscience” and how we have acted like we had a “seared conscience.”
What is a seared conscience? Searing something during biblical times was to take a hot metal rod of iron and press it into that thing. Flesh that has been seared is numb to pain. So a seared conscience is “insensitive to God, while sensitive to one’s own will. It means that these insensitive people claim a higher sensitivity.” What are some examples of a seared conscience in action?
How do fail God’s requirement?
We fail to heed the warning given by Paul and devote ourselves to deceitful spirits in two ways. First, we believe and follow those with seared consciences. And secondly, we think and act with a seared conscience.
Searing the conscience with extra rules
First, a “seared conscience” will make up their own rules and taboos. Their own do’s and don’ts. They make these rules while being insensitive to God’s.
“Drinking alcohol is a sin,” they say. Well, then Jesus is a sinner. “Don’t challenge your religious authority, even if they do something wrong.” If that’s the case, Jesus was a sinner for rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees. “You can’t use wine for communion.” Then Jesus was evil because He told us to take wine with communion. “Don’t get married.” Then the Apostle Paul is a liar. “Even if he did sinful things and didn’t repent, don’t judge him.” Then Jesus lied when He said, “judge with righteous judgment.”
When you make your own rules and restrictions, you claim to be God. You have a “seared conscience.”
Searing the conscience with others’ sins
Second, a “seared conscience” is sensitive to the sins of others but insensitive to their own. One example would be when people look at their ancestors and judge them for their sin, but at the same time, ignore their own current sins against God.
As another example, people hate it when they are assumed to be guilty, but they quickly assume the guilt of others. “Africans bring in drugs. Filipinos always overstay their visa. Arabs don’t take care of the community facilities in condos.” However, if someone says, “Americans are loud and don’t care about cultural practices at all. Iranians are too emotional. Malays are habitually lazy. Koreans complain too much about everything. The Japanese are too picky and afraid of dirty things. Indians are rude. Older Chinese men are perverted, and the younger Chinese are selfish.”
If you only have a problem with the second list and not the first, you have a “seared conscience.” You are quick to assume the guilt of others but hate when others assume you are guilty. You are sensitive to the sins of others, but insensitive to your own.
Searing the conscience with empty words
Third, a “seared conscience” virtue signals. They say commonly accepted things, or accepted in their circles, that makes them feel better or look good. This is the sin of social media. “Pollution is bad. Nazis are evil. The poor should be helped. Abandoning babies on the street is wrong. Sex slavery is terrible and must end.”
The “seared conscience” says these things, and feels holy. What do their actions say? They don’t clean up their neighborhood. They remain silent about the evil officials in their local government or police force. Never have they found the poor living around them or helped with finding the poor jobs and tools for productivity. They won’t volunteer at places that take care of abandoned babies. They won’t put their money where their mouth is and support agencies freeing sex slaves … instead, they’ll watch the occasional porno (the biggest funder of the sex trade). The person with a “seared conscience” virtue signals with no virtue.
Repent & Rejoice
Being insensitive to God, we have no action to back up what we say. Instead, we are sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of “public opinion” or things that we think are good or bad. And we remain numb. We must repent of our lifelessness and pray that God restores our consciences so that we are driven to holy action.
Matt is a husband, father, and an avid reader. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy in Applied Christian Studies.