Lucia's Blog: NUMB TO SIN!
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Monday, February 1, 2021

NUMB TO SIN!

 
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” 
Ephesians 4:17-21


Our society has become so desensitized and comfortably numb to sin that they no longer care about the pain and damaging effects of sin.  The more we defy the voice of our conscience, the easier it becomes to sin, forget, and repeat the sin.  When we become comfortably numb or desensitized to sin, our conscience is in danger of falling silent and not feeling the sting of shame.  In  Ephesians 4:19, Paul describes the pagan Gentiles saying, 

“They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”  

In 1 Timothy 4:2, Paul speaks of their consciences as “seared with a hot iron.”  


I.   A HARDENED HEART AND A CALLOUSED CONSCIENCE:

Developing a hardened heart and calloused conscience is one of the greatest dangers for Christians.  Indeed, Paul warned us, saying, 

“...  Having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).  


One man that comes to mind from the Old Testament is found in Exodus 7-9.  He was the Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt.  Not only had Pharaoh hardened his heart, but many of the Egyptians had also hardened theirs (Ex. 14:17-18).  Pharaoh had hardened his heart so much that he refused to know the God of Joseph (Ex. 1:8).  The Egyptians followed his example and were without excuse (Rom. 1:18-32). So how serious or dangerous is it for us to develop a hard heart and a callous conscience?  

  • How Do We Develop a Hardened Heart And a Calloused Conscience?
    • When We know What We Must Do But Resist Doing So:
We can develop a hardened heart and a calloused conscience when we resist doing what we know we must do.  James said it briefly,

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). 


Every time we resist doing what we know we must do, we run the risk of developing a hardened heart and a seared conscience. Every time we resist doing what we know we must do, we feel less guilty.   It is such a great temptation to every Christian!  Paul exhorted the Jews in Rome concerning this grave issue.  

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed”  (Rom. 2:4-5).  


You see, these “Israelites,” instead of repenting as God intended in response to His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering (2 Pet. 3:9), refused and thus developed a hardened heart.  

    • When We Know We Ought Not to Do Something, But We Do it Anyway:

We can develop a hardened heart and a calloused conscience when we know not to do something but persist in doing it.  Sin is indeed addictive (John 8:34).  Sadly, Christians often get caught up in sins they know are lawless and unrighteous because they don’t allow the Light of the Word to compel them to quit as they ought to (Psa. 119:11). Thus, every time we fail to quit, our sense of guilt diminishes, our heart begins to harden, and our conscience becomes more calloused.  God wants our hearts to be soft and tender.  He wants our hearts and consciences to respond correctly to His will.

Consider the examples of Kings Saul and David.  Saul repeatedly sinned because of his rebellion against God.  His apologies meant nothing.   On the other hand, David sincerely repented and stopped sinning when confronted with his sin and guilt (2 Sam. 11-12; Psa. 51).  Although it is true that we all sin (1 John 1:7-9), do we repent, confess, and change our lives when we sin?  If we fail to do so, our persistence in sin will be detrimental to our souls and have grave consequences!

    • When We Live Hypocritically:

We can develop a hardened heart and a calloused conscience when we live hypocritically.  When we read the accounts of the Gospel of Christ, we immediately observe how the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day had hardened their hearts and made their consciences callous or numb.  One of the main causes was their hypocrisy.  Jesus rebuked them for their hypocrisy in Matthew 23.   You see, every time we say one thing but live differently, we become hypocrites, hardening our hearts and searing our consciences, leaving them without feeling, as with callouses. One good example is when the parents demand that their children live by one standard, but they themselves live contrary to that teaching. Seeing the inconsistency, the children refuse to do what their parents say or demand. The parents deceive themselves, thinking that they can raise their children with this attitude. Hypocrisy leads to hardened hearts and calloused consciences.

    • When We Judge Hypocritically:

We can develop a hardened heart and a calloused conscience when we judge hyper-critically. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 7:1-5.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

We must be careful when we attempt to correct others' faults with hypercriticism, extracting a “speck” while our own vision is hindered by a “beam” protruding from our own eye.  Why?  Because in doing so, we are showing neglect for our own life.  Likewise, we run the risk of hardening our hearts and searing our own consciences.   When our attention is only on the faults of others and not ourselves, we are hypocrites.  David is an excellent example of this when he condemned the rich man from Nathan’s story (2 Sam. 12). David failed to see the exact fault Nathan was addressing to him in his own life while he quickly judged others!

To avoid developing a hardened heart and a calloused conscience, we must allow the Word of God to mold our hardened hearts into tender hearts and consciences (2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chron. 34:27).  When we allow the Word of God to lead us to do what God wants us to do, we will refuse to do what God has said not to do.  In doing this, we may rest assured that we will not live hypocritically, nor will we judge hyper-critically.  We draw closer to God when we do this!


II.   LIVING IN A DESENSITIZED CULTURE:

  • Insensitivity to Sin:

Today we live in a culture that lures people into sin and gradually desensitizes them to God’s moral principles of righteousness.  Our culture is so bound to lawlessness that many grow cold.  Our times are so perverse that many don’t even have natural affection (heartless).

"For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless (no natural affection), unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."  (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

We Christians must behave steadfastly in our conduct and not follow the worldly crowd. When a people are driven to do as they please without God in the picture, I believe God allows them to spend themselves on continuous sensation-seeking stimulation. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life virtually run wild!

Our culture has lost its sensitivity to sin.  Sin is tolerated so much that it no longer bothers people’s consciences. They don’t blush anymore (Jeremiah 6:16).  Even the most atrocious sins produce no sensation of conscience and cause no moral discomfort and remorse.  You see, when we allow our conscience to be seared or numb, it no longer stings and is noticeable.   Our consciences become like blisters that turn into callousness.  The Truth does not prick or disturb our consciences as it is designed to do.  Our consciences become little more than an occasional nudge.   When we hear the admonition given to us in Hebrews 2:1, does the warning still give us pause and make us think?

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”


Just as callused or cauterized skin no longer feels pain, a person’s conscience, his internal “moral umpire,” can also become numb.  When our conscience becomes numb to sin, it no longer feels remorse over doing what we know (or must know) is wrong. You see, repeated sin in our lives injures and dulls our moral sense, just like burns and blisters that give way to a dulled sense of touch.  In Ephesians 4, Paul declares that they have “given themselves over to sensuality.” Sensuality is a rejection of self-discipline that produces shameless, unrestrained behavior.  The more we sear and dull our conscience, the easier it will be to surrender to selfishness and lawlessnessA culture that habitually rejects God and His principles of righteousness becomes numb to sin and can no longer feel any shame about trampling it.  

In Ephesians 4:17-18, Paul addresses the Gentile’s numbness of conscience, stating, 

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”


Paul attributed the Gentiles’ numbness of conscience to their futility of mind, darkened understanding, ignorance, and hardness of heart. He uses that same language in Romans 1:18-21

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”


Their numbness of conscience, their futility of mind, darkened understanding, ignorance, and hardness of heart were not the result of an innocent lack of knowledge, for it was willful disregard to God’s Truth. Their hearts were so petrified that they were no longer conscious or aware of sinning.  Indeed, they were totally and shamelessly dominated by sin.  Even their decency and morality were lost and forgotten.  They were given entirely to their fleshly desires without caring whose lives they were injuring and destroying as long as their desires or appetites were satisfied.  Does that not sound familiar in our culture today?  What do you think?

Just like Paul described the people of his time who had become comfortably numb to sin, we live among such people today.  Our people today are like the people in Jeremiah’s day who “refused to be ashamed” and “did not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 3:3; 6:15).

Consider the serious challenges for Christians living in a world that refuses to be ashamed and who have become comfortably numb to sin.


  • We Must Battle  to Preserve Our Own Conscience:   

Every time we choose to sin, we run the risk of searing our conscience just a little. We may excuse it by saying, “It’s only this once,” but the danger is that once may weaken our conviction enough to make it easier to justify sin the next time.  It gets even more dangerous when our culture treats sin as harmless, even good. 

  1. In our culture, our people no longer feel guilty about lying because everybody lies without hesitation. 
  2. The hearts of modern men and women have become so desensitized to sexual immorality and nakedness that they no longer know how to be decent and godly. 
  3. It’s harder also for their conscience to shout “No!” to sex outside of marriage (in whatever form) because our prevailing culture treats it as something as natural as eating. 
  4. Even those things that we read, listen to, or watch on TV or the big screen can desensitize us to evil if we aren’t careful.

  • The Callousness of Others Causes Pain: 
 When the people around us are “past feeling” to sinful behavior (even if they are not numb to the same extent or things), their behavior will affect their loved ones and us.  There’s no way to avoid it.  Have you ever been hurt because someone did not feel guilty over stealing, spreading slander, getting drunk, or abusing drugs?  A world full of people who are past feeling (numb or desensitized to sin) is a painful place to live!

  • The Challenge of Sharing The Gospel: 
God’s remedy to sin is the Gospel found in the New Testament.  Receiving that Message will be hard for those who have no sense of guilt over sinThe Gospel calls on people to repent, acknowledge their sin and the weight of their guilt, and surrender to the will of God.   That surrender must make God’s Word the only standard by which the conscience is setFor those who live in sin and are comfortably numb to sin, that may be a radical change. Thus the only hope and remedy for sin is to share the Gospel Message with those who have no sense of guilt over sin. Because so many are comfortably numb to sin, sharing the Gospel Message will demand that we have patience, persistence, and courage to be effective.  

  • Modesty In a Desensitized Culture:

We live in a culture desensitized to sin.  

  1. Our culture screams its scenes of sex and licentiousness on billboards, magazines, television, the internet, and movies without shame. 
  2. The growth of pornography and sex trafficking, teen sexting, and increasingly seductive fashions are examples of this problem.  
  3. Modern Western culture has clearly influenced and desensitized Christians, but God’s standard for moral purity and principles of righteousness are still the same (Matthew 5:27-29; Job 31:1; 1 John 2:15-17; Romans 14:13).  
  4. Because men are more prone to struggle against lust via visual temptations, the Bible usually addresses them regarding self-control and sexual immorality.  
  5. Women are usually admonished about modesty and chastity. Sadly, many women today are not taught modesty in the home or at church. It is very sad!


Our young or immature Christians do not understand how immodest clothing can make others “stumble” into sin (Romans 15:1-2; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13).  Men and women must use self-control and discretion, seeking to please and honor God, serving others in purity and wisdomSo should the church address modesty and chastity?  

Our modern culture promotes, “As long as I don’t hurt anyone, I can do what I want—no matter what you think,” but Christians must know better behavior to influence and impact others

  1. Godly modesty and chastity are born from a humble and righteous heart.  It does not provoke unlawful or indecent desires in others.  
  2. Christians must care about how their immodesty affects others.  
  3. Those who are leaders in the church must call them to repent if they insist on rebelling.  
  4. Sadly, many church leaders fail to speak up about immodest dress and unchaste behavior because they fear offending those who are comfortably desensitized to wearing provocative clothing, even in the church. 
  5. Others don’t speak up for fear of negative responses that reflect on them personally. 
  6. Leaders might even be concerned about transcultural differences.  
  7. But the church can’t afford to be silent on this issue just because our modern culture continually drives its immodest agenda


We Christians are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and therefore we must care for it (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20).  The way we cover our God-given bodies reflects who we worship and whose kingdom we represent. Are we hindering the Gospel’s Message by the way we cover our bodies?  Modesty must become evident throughout the church!  

The church that Jesus purchased with His own blood is called to holiness because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).


Spiritually immature and immodest Christians have a hard time understanding the Gospel or how to live it out in all matters of holiness. Church leaders must teach and admonish their brethren about modest behavior and dress. They must help the church examine their hearts with sober judgment (Romans 12:3) and help them imitate Christ rather than draw attention to themselves (Philippians 2:3-4).  

The apostle Paul gave instructions to the early church regarding modesty (1 Timothy 2:9). His focus was on the over-the-top apparel, hairstyles, and jewelry of wealthy women in the church, possibly reflecting worldly lifestyles. Christians must be taught to clothe themselves in humility (1 Peter 5:5-6), righteousness, dignity, and love. Immodest behavior is typically a symptom of a deeper heart issue. 

Sadly, our society has become so desensitized to sexual immorality and nakedness or immodesty, they no longer know what it means to be godly, modest, and decent. The Bible warns us that women are tempted to dress like harlots, and the only alternative is to dress godly, which means that you're afraid to bring shame to your God by the manner of your dress. Immoral dress leads to immoral, sinful living, which brings the wrath of God. 

Indisputably, this is a problem that is making the Lord’s church bleed.  She is hemorrhaging souls.  It is serious and dangerous because it is sinful, distracting, and compromising the cause of Christ.  The church that remains silent on modesty and chastity is diminishing the blood of Christ, His cross, and the work of the church.  Moreover, it deprives, cheats, and deceives God's children, leading them into false doctrine and wrongdoing.  Why not correct, instruct, and teach God's righteousness to those who are disobedient and walking disorderly?!  Let us take heed to God's Word!

"Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.  That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work."  (2 Tim. 3:16-17)


Do not be deceived.  Modesty is a "God thing."  This character trait aids us as a weapon of defense against various forms of immorality (fornication, adultery).  As those who profess to be followers of Christ, we are responsible for growing as Christians in our character and virtue.  We are also responsible for rejecting everything that is not in harmony with the Word of God.  The apostle Paul admonishes us saying, 
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."  (I Thess. 5:21)

CONCLUSION:

Have we become desensitized to the things of God?  

When Jesus ascended to heaven, amazing things were happening.  The early church was expanding, and thousands were obeying the Gospel Message preached to them throughout the known world. These new believers were passionate about their new faith and the spreading and sharing of the Good News, the Gospel.  However, these new Christians were intensely persecuted.  They were even dying for their faith, but the church kept expanding.  The message was spreading all over, and many were humbly responding and surrendering their lives to God without fear as they heard and obeyed the Gospel.  I’ve heard people saying that being a Christian in our nation is, in fact, more difficult than any other nation in the world.  But I wondered if that is true!  Why?  Think for a moment.  We have freedom of speech and religion in our nation.  So how could it possibly be more challenging to be a Christian?  Consider how many countries in this world have Christians martyred for their faith!  Don’t you think these people have it harder than we have it here in our nation?  The answer is a big  YES!

God has blessed us immensely in our nation, for we have the freedom to worship Him as we choose. Yet, as a culture, we are desensitized and comfortably numb to sin and its consequences with little remorse or pain at all.  Even within the church, outright sin has become acceptable.  Obedience to God and His principles of righteousness has morphed into “legalism.” When did it become legalistic to obey God?

We have become so numb to sin, desensitized to sin, and also numb to the things of God as well.  Although God opens many doors for us to share the Gospel with the lost, are we truly brokenhearted for them?  Do we even take advantage of the opportunity to teach those who are numbed by sin the remedy to their sinfulness? Do we share the Gospel with them and live as lights amid so much darkness?  Think about it!

I must admit, many of us have become complacent and lazy in our faith with a heavy heart.

And though we may not be dying for our faith, we surely do not live our faith either, at least not with passion and intensity.   

It’s time to wake up!  It is time to take a stand for our faith and for righteousness.  It is time to fully be obedient to God in all that we do or say, even when it is hard and challenging!  Let us stop wasting our time. Let us stop being comfortably numb to sin and start living godly lives that glorify our Father in heaven!  

There is no doubt in my heart that the day is coming soon in our nation when faithful and devoted Christians will be persecuted for proclaiming God’s Truth and taking a stand for righteousness.  Take heed!  Today is the day of salvation!  Let us follow the early church example, which grew exceedingly despite their many trials and persecutions. They proclaimed the Gospel under fire from the enemy!  You may rest assured God will use those difficult times, even persecution, to His glory. History has revealed this time and time again. Be grateful and encouraged that even in trying times, God is still in control.  If we endure to the end faithful to God, spreading the Gospel to the lost, He will be glorified and will reward us greatly.  Remember that our labor in the Lord is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).  

Our minds and hearts are so affected by this world that we have become desensitized to unrighteousness, lawlessness. Don’t be deceived.  Our minds are affected! When we adapt our minds to this world’s lawlessness, even if we are not directly participating in it, we are still, to some degree, adapting to our culture’s deviant perspectives.  Have we forgotten that we must not love the world, for all that is in the world will be burned up with the ungodly?   All that our eyes can see will dissolve.  Remember, “what manner of persons ought we be in holy conduct and godliness?”  Since this world is passing away, we must make sure that we are walking in holiness and godliness, preparing for the next world, heaven.  

When we feed our fleshly appetites, our conscience forms a callous.  We become complacent in our way of living.  The sins that we commit don’t cause us pain anymore.  We must take a frequent inventory of what we are allowing to enter our hearts, especially since we live in a society without conscience, numb to sin!  

  1. Does it matter to us what we watch on TV or the big screen?  Remember that such things will affect our minds and hearts. We run the risk of becoming comfortably numb to sin, that is, desensitized to sin. 
  2. Do we watch or care at all about the words we hear or speak? 
  3. Do we not flinch?   
  4. Are we cautious about our practices, procedures, and the standards we use when we do business?
  5. Has it become more comfortable not to speak the truth?  
  6. Have we allowed our conscience to become bitter and doubtful?   

As Christians, we must examine ourselves and never lose our edge.  Do we feel pain by all that we see around us?  Does sin no longer hurt us? If sin does not bring pain to our hearts, why not take a moment to remind ourselves of the high price our Lord and Savior had to pay to free us from the bondage of sin?  Why not pray and ask God’s help that you might overcome sin and its shame?  Remember that our sins will find us out!   

We live in a world of cause and effect. Our choices (both good and bad) always have drastic consequences that are not always consistent.  Two people can commit the same sin and experience two different results.   The truth is, our sins do find us out. But our sins do not always find us out in the same way or within the same frame of time. Paul stated, 

“The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later” (1 Timothy 5:24).  


Many deceive themselves, thinking that they have gotten away with sin because the consequences are not immediate and visible.  The sad truth is that some of sin’s greatest consequences often go undetected. They are not visible and detected by the one who is sinning because his conscience is seared (Hebrews 9:14), his mind is clouded by darkness (Matthew 5:22-23), his heart is gradually calloused by sin (Matthew 13:15), and because he doesn't care about the destiny of his soul.   

The good news is that we can “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  It implies that if we don’t resist him, he will keep hanging around. The devil is indeed cunning.  He doesn’t always present the seductive measures of sin in big packages. He may present them in small, cleverly decorated forms as attractive gifts filled with interesting things. Thus they’re hard to resist. Ask Eve.  Ask David.  Ask Peter. Ask anybody. We’ve all had our moments!  Don’t you think?   

How easy it is to minimize the danger and seriousness of sin.  We are prone to tolerate rather than resist. We even categorize our sins as “big sins” and “little sins.”  We rationalize our sins as not as bad as others.  Self-justification is one of the most subtle tools of Satan. But sin is sin! And “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).  

Therefore, let us be very careful not to tolerate sin around us, for if we tolerate sin by not opposing it, we will lose the disquieting pangs of conscience.  Let us, from a sincere heart, grow up and mature in Christ, to His stature.  Let us remove our blisters and calluses.  Instead of developing hardened hearts and calloused consciences, let us allow the Word of God to become active in our lives so that we can mold tender hearts and consciences (2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chron. 34:27).  Let us obey God and do what He says and refuse to do what He prohibits.   In doing this, we may rest assured that we will not live hypocritically, nor will we judge hypocritically.   It is the only way to draw closer to God!  

Since our manner of living matters, let us show the excellency of Christ in our lives.  God wants us to have tender hearts sensitive to His Spirit. May we not become hardened by sin, but rather may we encourage one another as long as it is today.  May God be glorified in all that we do or say.  

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, there is good news for those who have sinned. The precious and saving blood of Jesus, our Lord, will purify and justify sinners in the eyes of God when they obey the Gospel and are baptized for the remission of their sins.  For the unfaithful child of God, the blood of Jesus will cleanse him from sin through repentance and confession of sins and by fervent prayer. When the faithful Christian sins, he goes to God continually in prayer and supplication, humbly recognizing his continuing need for direction from God and His principles of righteousness.  He does this because he wants to remain steadfast and strives to exercise godliness and holiness.

May we never minimize the danger and seriousness of sin.  May we never allow our minds and hearts to be affected by this world, to which we have become desensitized to unrighteousness, lawlessness.  May we take a frequent inventory of what we allow to enter our hearts.   May we never become desensitized to the things of God.  May we remain faithful and strive to exercise godliness and holiness in our lives, going to God in constant and fervent prayer, recognizing our continuing need for Him and His principles of righteousness.  And finally, may we never resist doing what we must know and do because of a hardened heart and a calloused conscience.


Luci


5 comments:

  1. Good study Luci, thank you. David

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  2. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽💗💗💗

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good to see you still contending for the faith in these best and worst of times! Worst because of this devastating pandemic but best because it is a glorious time to reach the lost as well as to encourage the brethren!

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