What Is a Seared Conscience?

1 Timothy 4:1-2
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the 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;

What does it mean for a person to have a seared conscience?

The picture given by the apostle Paul is one in which a person’s conscience or convictions have been desensitized. Through repeated exposure to evil, a person’s sense of right and wrong can become numb to the point that a person can no longer easily distinguish between good and evil.

Isaiah condemned his readers for this type of spiritual insensitivity, saying, Isaiah 5:20
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” In Isaiah’s case, this way of life would result in judgment to God’s people (Isaiah 5:26-30).

In 1 Timothy 4, we see that “some shall depart from the faith.” This indicates that those who call themselves Christians or are at least associated with Christianity will leave it. Instead, they will be devoted to demonic and deceitful teachings that will come through insincere liars with a warped sense of morality.

These words serve as a warning for believers in two ways. First, as believers we must develop a mind that is focused on the things of God rather than the ways of this world. This includes prayer (1 Timothy 2:1-2), growing in God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-3), community with other believers (Hebrews 10:25), sharing the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), and serving others in need (Acts 2:44-45).

Second, we are warned against following false teachings. Jude 1:3 also adds, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
We are to both live godly lives and stand against ungodly teaching. In 1 Timothy 1:3-4, Timothy was left at the church in Ephesus to keep people from teaching “no other doctrine” or unhealthy teaching. A vibrant Christian faith is one that is both growing in God’s grace and defending against false teachings.

When we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8). Activities that move us farther away from God or desensitize our heart toward God should be removed. This can include how much television we watch or the kind of content we consume, books we read, the websites we view, or even video games we play. In this way, we will avoid a seared conscience and live in a way that pleases God and changes the lives of others.

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