Conscience Seared by Disobedience

Now suppose that I see the light from the lamp of God's Word, but refuse to obey it. Let's say that the Holy Spirit has convicted me, and I understand perfectly what He requires of me, but it is unpopular and inconvenient. What happens if I disregard the light and reject the truth which the Spirit has revealed—for any reason whatsoever? The Spirit continues to speak, of course, and for a time there is a battle in my conscience. I feel miserable and guilty. Days pass by, and even months, while I keep on violating my conviction of what is right. Gradually, the conscience begins to adjust to what is being done in the physical body. Slowly the guilt feelings begin to subside and the acts of disobedience appear less and less objectionable.

Finally, the truth which seemed so clear and uncomplicated in the beginning turns into a muddle of uncertainty. Rationalizations spring forth to justify disobedience, and the early convictions of sin fade away. Life is almost as comfortable as it was before the light came. What has happened? We have sinned against the Holy Spirit and are sinking into the state of the unpardonable sin.

You see, this deadly sin is not any particular act which can be isolated and labeled. It can be any sin which is cherished in the face of light and knowledge. It actually is a condition of seared sensitivity brought on by persistent disobedience to recognized truth. The reaction is similar to ignoring an alarm clock. The conscience becomes more and more tolerant of the pricking reminder of transgression until, finally, it no longer even recognizes the unwelcome sting of conviction. Like the clock, it runs down too, and just as well, because no one is listening any longer.

Do you begin to see that everything really depends on what we do with truth? James wrote, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). It doesn't matter an iota whether we are rich or poor, Catholic or Jew or Protestant; the big issue is whether we are acting upon what we know.

Jesus expanded on this crucial principle. He said, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin" (John 15:22). Who, then, is accountable and chargeable before God? Those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit out of the Word. The sincere souls who are faithful to all they know, be it much or little, will be accepted. Sin will only be counted against those who have heard truth and rejected it.

Christ said, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth" (John 9:41). This whole problem of the unpardonable sin revolves around the issue of obeying what we know. On another occasion Jesus said, "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you" (John 12:35).

Where does light come from? It is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. When we refuse to obey the truth, we are rejecting the ministry of the Spirit who is our only link to salvation. We literally drive away the One whom God has sent to save us. Can you now see how self-destructive that can be? God's special messenger is grieved away by our deliberate refusal to respond to His invitations of mercy. God said long ago, "My Spirit will not always strive with man." He will say to the Holy Spirit at last, "Let them alone. If they insist in having their own way, do not pursue them any longer."

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