CHAPTER 8

“I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong.”

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Everyone has a conscience. Our conscience is a God-given awareness of what is right and what is wrong. In Romans 2:14-15, Paul said that the Gentiles already knew they were sinners because of the unwritten law that was written in their hearts. For believers today, a nudge from the Holy Spirit is what tells us when we have sinned, even when no one else saw it.

Most of us experience a guilty conscience when we’ve done something wrong.  It’s that nagging voice in our heads saying we should have or shouldn’t have done something.  We may feel like we need to rationalize or justify our behavior, even when we haven’t been asked to … yet.  We might get defensive if anyone talks about it, but when we think back on how we acted, or what we did in the middle of the situation, we dislike ourselves.  We blame ourselves before anyone else even finds out. There’s a feeling of guilt we just can’t shake.

But there are criminals who have a deadened conscience.  Such a conscience just doesn’t work properly. It’s as if “spiritual scar tissue” has dulled the sense of right and wrong. 1 Timothy 4:2 described it this way. “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.”

In other words, just as the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain, so the heart of an individual with a seared conscience is desensitized to morality and a sense of right or wrong.  The first time I commit a particular sin, my conscience bothers me. In His grace, the Holy Spirit is convicting me of that lapse. But the more I commit a particular sin, the less it bothers me and the more I can tune out God’s input.  Eventually I stop feeling any remorse at all about it.

Criminals’ consciences becomes desensitized over time through repetition of their crimes. Depending on their crimes, we may refer to people with such seared consciences as psychopaths or sociopaths, when combined with other key traits. These are the most dangerous of all antisocial personality disorders, because of the way such people can completely dissociate emotionally from their actions, regardless of how terrible those actions may be.  We will find examples of such people in the Bible.

1. To what did Timothy compare the conscience of a person who doesn’t feel guilty any more when they sin? (1 Tim. 4:2)
 

2. This seared conscience is the ultimate result of the process Paul described in Romans 1:28. What is the process?
 

3. Following are examples of people in the Bible whose conscience bothered them because they knew they had done something wrong.  Who sinned, and what had they done wrong?
 
 
  c) (1 Samuel 24:5)
  d) (Matthew 27:3-5)
  e) (Luke 22:61-62)
  f) (John 8:7-11)

4. Following are examples of people in the Bible with hardened hearts and seared consciences.  They didn’t lose any sleep at night over their sins.  Who were they?
 
 
  c) (2 Samuel 18:15-17)
  d) (Daniel 5:18-20)
  e) (Judges 16:19-21)
  f) (Matthew 2:16)
  g) (Acts 24:24-27)

5. There are people who presume God is so kind and gracious that He would never send anyone to hell.  However, what does Paul say will happen to people with hard and impenitent hearts? (Romans 2:4-5)
 

6. What counsel would you give a person operating under the “I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong” thinking error?
 

Continue to Chapter 9

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