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Callous Heart & Seared Conscience

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Matthew 13:15
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’


1 Timothy 4:1-2
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.


Seared Conscience

The seared conscience is referred to in 1 Timothy 4:2 where Paul talks about those whose consciences—their moral consciousness—have been literally “cauterized” or rendered insensitive in the same way the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain. For human beings, having one’s conscience seared is a result of continual, unrepentant sinning. Eventually, sin dulls the sense of moral right or wrong, and the unrepentant sinner becomes numb to the warnings of the conscience that God has placed within each of us to guide us (Romans 2:15).

At the point of salvation, we are cleansed from the sin inherited from Adam and all personal sins. But as we continue in our Christian walk, we are still prone to sin. When we do, God has provided us with a bar of soap to restore us to the point of salvation. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we allow ourselves to practice mental attitude sins, we are quenching the Holy Spirit. We are commanded not to quench the Holy Spirit who indwells us (1Thessalonians 5:19). When we continue in our mental attitude sins without confessing and begin to practice these sins in our bodies (James 1:15), we grieve the Holy Spirit, which we are not to do (Ephesians 4:30). Once again, we have the choice to confess and repent or to continue in sin and backsliding. When we continue in sin, our souls begin to become morally callous. We finally come to a point where our conscience is seared and is unable to help us determine right from wrong. It is as if a hot iron was applied to our conscience and it is destroyed. Even worse, we don’t care how sinful we are. This is what is meant in 1Timothy 4:2, where Paul is referring to false teachers: “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” You can easily see this with pure evil. A serial killer, for example, has had his conscience seared, and it no longer operates and guides him in what is right and what is wrong.

Christians who keep sinning despite divine discipline can actually sin themselves right out of this life and into God’s presence. God does this in order to keep such a one from doing any more damage to himself and to his witness for His Holy Name. “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death” (1 John 5:16-17). These sins do not cause us to lose our salvation, but they definitely affect our relationship with God and others. We are wise if we never deteriorate to the point of having our consciences seared.

Callous Heart

definition:
1. made hard; hardened.
2. insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic:

To better understand the causes and solutions for a hardened heart, it’s important to understand the broad biblical meaning of the word “heart.” The Bible considers the heart to be the hub of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.” For example, Scripture informs us that grief (John 14:1); desires (Matthew 5:28); joy (Ephesians 5:19); understanding (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15); thoughts and reasoning (Genesis 6:5; Hebrews 4:12; Mark 2:8); and, most importantly, faith and belief (Hebrews 3:12; Romans 10:10; Mark 11:23) are all products of the heart. Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a repository for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart (Luke 6:43–45).

Considering this, it’s easy to see how a hardened heart can dull a person’s ability to perceive and understand. Anyone’s heart can harden, even faithful Christians’. In fact, in Mark 8:17–19 we see Jesus’ own disciples suffering from this malady. The disciples were concerned with their meager bread supply, and it was clear that each of them had forgotten how Jesus had just fed thousands with only a few loaves. Questioning them as to the hardness of their hearts, Christ spells out for us the characteristics of this spiritual heart condition as an inability to see, understand, hear, and remember. Regarding this last criterion, too often we forget how God has blessed us and what He has done for us. Similar to the disciples in this instance or the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, when a new calamity arises in our lives, our hearts often fill with fear and concern. Sadly, this simply reveals to God the little faith we have in His promise to take care of us (Matthew 6:32–33; Philippians 4:19). We need to remember not only the many times God has graciously provided for us in our time of need, but also what He has told us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. Now we know that “if we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). However, if we don’t confess our sins, they have a cumulative and desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong. And this sinful and hardened heart is tantamount to the “seared conscience” Paul speaks of in 1Timothy 4:1–2. Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way. The apostle Paul writes about God’s wrath of abandonment in his letter to the Romans where we see that godless and wicked “men who suppress the truth” are eventually given over to the sinful desires of their hardened hearts (Romans 1:18–24).

Pride will also cause our hearts to harden. The “pride of your heart has deceived you . . . you who say to yourself, ‘who can bring me down to the ground’ . . . I will bring you down declares the LORD” (Obadiah 3). Also, the root of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness was his pride and arrogance. Even in the face of tremendous proofs and witnessing God’s powerful hand at work, Pharaoh’s hardened heart caused him to deny the sovereignty of the one, true God. And when King Nebuchadnezzar’s “heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory . . . until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone He wishes” (Daniel 5:20–21). Accordingly, when we’re inclined to do it our way, thinking we can “go it on our own,” it would be wise to recall what King Solomon taught us in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

So, what then is the antidote for a heart condition such as this? First and foremost, we have to recognize the effect that this spiritual disease has on us. And God will help us to see our heart’s condition when we ask Him: “Search me O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24). God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins. But true repentance is more than simply a resolute feeling of steadfast determination. Repentance manifests itself in a changed life.

After repenting of our sins, hard hearts begin to be cured when we study God’s Word. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. . . . I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9–11). The Bible is our manual for living as it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are to live life to the fullest as God intended, we need to study and obey God’s written Word, which not only keeps a heart soft and pure but allows us to be “blessed” in whatever we do (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25).

Hearts can also become hardened when we suffer setbacks and disappointments in life. No one is immune to trials here on earth. Yet, just as steel is forged by a blacksmith’s hammer, so, too, can our faith be strengthened by the trials we encounter in the valleys of life. As Paul encouraged the Romans: “But we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).

originally from: http://www.gotquestions.org/hardened-heart.html
 
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