Cauterizing the Conscience (Revisited)

Cauterizing the Conscience

Robert Wurtz II

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1, 2)

Our passage deals with events that would take place after the writing of the text, in latter times. The words could be translated “latter seasons.” These times will go on until the coming of Christ at the second advent; times of great deception that are characterized by some departing the faith as a result of demons animating false teachers with both power and doctrine. Paul warns Timothy and then adds, If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. (1 Timothy 4:6 KJV) We need to be aware of the fact that the enemy seeks opportunities to introduce falsehood into the churches of God to get folk to “depart from the faith.” That is his primary objective and standard operating procedure (modus operandi).

Seared Conscience

When the conscience is seared the mind is no longer summonsed to consider the truth of an action or idea. The Greek word is the root for our word cauterize. This makes the person dangerous to the churches because they normalize sin. When a person refuses to agree with God’s word they are searing their conscience. If there is no repentance the conscience will lose its influence upon the behavior. Where once the sinful behavior wore on the mind, now the person can sin without any pain of conscience. This is a dreadful state of being. They go on sinning and rebelling against God and have no sense that they need to confess and repent. They are given over to their sin. 

Synchronized Knowledge

Some refer to an aspect of the conscience as sequent; that is to say, it follows action. God placed in all human beings the ability to measure right from wrong. This allows man to have a faculty of judgment. The effects of conscience are first seen when Adam and Eve had sinned and then clothed themselves with fig leaves and hid themselves from the Face of Jehovah (Genesis 3:8). They knew God’s will and that they had transgressed God’s will. It was before their minds. The pain of conscience followed their action. Knowledge of God’s will informs the conscience to function properly. This is why it is important to rightly divide the word of truth. The conscience is being programmed.

All human beings are born with this moral sense because they are created by God in His image. (Romans 1) The conscience may be buried under years of rebellion and darkness, but everyone started out with a sense of what is “fair.” Unless the conscience is completely seared, people know how others ought to behave and how they ought to behave. This is as simple fact, but it is amazing how easy it is for some people to dismiss the golden rule. They treat others in ways they would not want to be treated. This is evidence of a seared conscience.

Conscience and the Nervous System

Everyone is born with a basic sense of right and wrong. The conscience simply weighs our actions against what we sincerely believe is right. It is like an umpire in our heart making judgment calls. It is unaffiliated with our own desires. Some have said that God placed the conscience in man to give Himself a voice in our heart. 

The faculty of conscience is tied directly to our hard wiring as human beings. As it has been said, “Lie detector tests are based on the science that although we may be very proficient at telling lies, whenever we do so we trigger a kind of spiritual smoke alarm which alters the rhythms of our bodies. This universal sense of right and wrong was sharpened in the Ten Words given to Israel and it had a God-wards factor too in making God the centre of our affections and allegiances.” (R. Bailey) When we go against our conscience it can be detected electrically — if we are attached to the right type of equipment. What then is a seared conscience? When the “smoke alarm” has been transgressed to the point that it no longer functions properly. In a figure the room is full of smoke — but the detector remains silent.

Refusing to Agree

When a person refuses to agree with God they are not allowing Him be true. They are calling Him a liar. (1 John 1:10) They then substitute their own false religious views for His. Paul gives an example of this when he writes of those who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:3) These are man-made laws such as the Gnostic’s would adhere to. They have nothing to do with God, but are an example of how paganism can gain entrance into Christianity under the guise of being “spiritual.” This is an ancient lie. Understand that it is impossible to improve upon the Spirit-filled life. No amount of rules can improve on someone walking in the Spirit and thereby establishing the law. 

As we have seen in the so-called Catholic priesthood, celibacy may give a show of wisdom in will worship, but it actually opens the door to much greater sins and evil. Why? Because God did not place these restraints on man, Satan has done it in order to give himself an occasion to tempt men for their lack of self control. (1 Corinthians 7:5, Colossians 2:20-23) “A concomitant of legalism and mysticism is asceticism. It is the pseudo-spiritual position that revels in rules of physical self-denial. Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch! These prohibitions increase from not handling to not even touching. This same legalism was manifest in Eve’s carnal exaggeration, ‘You must not touch it, or you will die.’” (BK Comm. Genesis 3:3; cf. Genesis 2:16-17) This is not what God said. To say more or to say less than what God said is to lie against the truth; the one path leads to legalism and the other to license.

Modern Application

A few years ago, Dr. Carl F. Henry, founder and editor of Christianity Today, sent out a questionnaire to what he called, “Twenty of the leading intellectual preachers in the country.” And the question that he sent out was this: “What do you see for the church of Jesus Christ by the year 2000.” I remember only one of the replies, it was given by Elton Trueblood, the Quaker philosopher. He said this amazing thing: “By the year 2000 the church will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant, militant paganism.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

One only need look at the plethora of posts on social media lauding the fining and jailing of Christians who refuse to support the gay agenda to see that Elton Trueblood was speaking prophetically. One lady wrote concerning the jailing of the clerk in Kentucky, “now lets go after those cake people!” For her, fining the folks that refused to bake the gay wedding cake was not harsh enough. These militant pagans not only want the right to marry as homosexuals, they want to force that view on everyone else “jailing” the opposition. What is worse is that some Christians have depatred from the faith and joined the ranks of those who agree with practicing homosexuals. Some may have been grievous wolves all along just waiting to come out of the closet themselves. Listening to some of the things I hear Christians saying it’s hard to know who is on what team these days. Do they agree with God or the gay agenda? Do they support God’s people or this present evil world? Do they think they can straddle the fence? 

Deadly Decisionism Comes Home to Roost

The evangelistic methods of the last 100 years are now coming home to roost. In modern times we are suffering terribly from the effects of decisionism. Multitudes have prayed a prayer, raised their hand, signed a card, etc., but have not been regenerated. Their conscience is still seared even though they have made a profession of faith. Had they been regenerated (in the biblical sense) they would feel differently about sin. The unregenerate have a carnal mind that sees God’s word as foolishness. The carnal mind is at enmity with God. It’s a simple question, but “if a person refuses to agree with God’s word, how can the Spirit that inspired the word be living inside of them?” This is common sense. 

If a persons’ attitude towards sin has not changed they cannot possibly be born again. For it is written, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (…) Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. (Ezekiel 36:26–27, 31 NKJV) Focus on the words Then you will remember…” The born again experience that comes in the New Covenant radically alters a person’s attitude towards sin. They may have been proud of their sinful life before, but once the new heart and spirit come in they view their sin completely different. 

In these latter times we don’t need another healing revival. We don’t need another smooth-talking inspirational speaker spouting out platitudes and hopes for financial prosperity. We need the Gospel to be preached as it was once delivered to the Saints. We need the Gospel that changed the world in the book of Acts. We need to strip-off the doctrinal grave clothes of generations that are binding the minds of multitudes — preventing them from being born of the Spirit. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith. What faith? The faith as it has been preached for the last 100 years? No! Multitudes have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. They have forsaken the faith that we are supposed to be contending for (Jude 3). This is the faith that can reverse the effects of a seared conscience. Nothing else will do it. Nevertheless, many will continue giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. The Spirit has expressly spoken this and it is happening. Our only hope is to make sure we don’t fall prey to it.  

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