There was a time, not long ago, when you could believe most people, even the media and politicians. Truth and honesty meant something, and people at least tried to maintain some image of integrity. Not anymore; it is all about promoting self and political expediency now.
Recently we witnessed a head of state and so-called world leader, lie under oath while there is ample video evidence to the contrary of his testimony. This is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident, but the new norm. The media may lie to you, and it is perfectly legal for them to do so.
There is no need to elaborate on the impact of lies on our daily lives; we are well aware of the consequences by the experiences we have in our cultures. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as the Bible warned us about it 2000 ago:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 1 Timothy 4:1-3
One can only wonder how it is possible for someone to lie so openly without shame. The lack of consequences looks like a reasonable explanation, but the passage quoted above points in another direction: people have seared their consciences, and that opens some treacherously dangerous doors. The sad news is that this phenomenon filtered down from public figures to ordinary people that we interact with daily — people we do business with and participate with in every aspect of life, just as Paul said. It is hard to simply believe anybody these days, as we used to in times past.
What does it mean to have a seared conscience? A good dictionary will tell you: to char, scorch, or burn the surface of; to cause to dry up and wither; seared — literally cauterized — rendering it insensitive. A seared conscience is one that is no longer sensitive to feelings of guilt because it has been burned over and over again by the guilt of repeated wrongdoing.
This is the world we have entered into the last few years, and it doesn’t look as if we can expect a change for the better soon. Our call as Christians is, as it has always been, to be shining lights in a dark place, to be bearers of truth no matter the cost, and to avoid being reeled in by the culture around us. We were called to stand out, not blend in, and even while doing so, we examine our own hearts to affirm our stand before the Lord.
Your conscience is your inner prosecutor that warns you when you stepped into dishonesty or sin. A sense of guilt will let you know what you did is wrong, and that you need to take steps to come clean about it. It is an early — and always timely — opportunity to redeem oneself by acknowledging your behaviour to anyone affected by it, ask for forgiveness, at least offer an apology to remedy the wrong, and clear the air.
That nagging voice in your heart is God sounding the alarm that you are about to leave His presence, as He will not tolerate sin. He does it for your safety and continuous wellbeing, without which life can be unbearably hard. Thank God, He doesn’t just leave us to slip into the darkness of the world without a warning!
Your conscience becomes seared when you ignore that inner voice, or find ways to justify it. Resisting it dulls your conscience to the point where it becomes silent, leaving you with a false sense of comfort about harmful behaviour. Continuing down this path eventually leads to destruction as the wages of sin will catch up with you at some point.
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds.” Romans 2:5,6
Escaping from your inner voice is only ever temporary, giving you a wrong reading that all is well, yet only for a time, for a day accountability is already booked when there will be no opportunity to reason, argue or debate the matter.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
To ignore your conscience is to convince yourself that all is well while it isn’t. God says He will send a strong delusion so such, “that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” This is how things escalate when you harden your heart, and there are no winners in this game. A hardened heart soon discards empathy, turning you into a cold, robotic, narcissistic personality who cares about no one but self. This is in stark contrast to Christian attitudes where we are exhorted to be tenderhearted.
There is a hardness of heart in our world today, exactly as Paul said would happen. The Father of lies deceives people everywhere to do his bidding, and there is no lack of volunteers. These are people who tell lies, believe lies, and live lies.
Walking in truth begins in your own heart where you put your believes into practice. There is just no point in sharing truth while lying to yourself. It may cost you something to clean up your act, but refusing to so will cost you even more.
Paul invites us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith, but including in that test must be the understanding that faith is not something that exists in the heart only, for it must be expressed outwardly to be valid. The hidden faith, says James, is hard to prove if questioned. (James 2:24)
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Hear the heart of the Father speaking through the apostle John:
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:2-4
Finally, good advice from the Message translation of the Bible:
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2