Bringing a Dead Conscience to Life Gen. 41:54-42:8 EBC 8/23/09
Intro: A little girl in London held up her broken wrist and said, “Look, Mommy, my hand is bent the wrong way!” There were no tears in her eyes. She felt no pain whatever. That was when she was four years old. When she was six, her parents noticed that she was walking with a limp. A doctor discovered that the girl had a fractured thigh. Still she felt no pain. The girl is now 14 years old. She is careful now, but occasionally looks at blisters and burns on her hands and wonders, “How did this happen?” She is insensitive to pain! Medical specialists are baffled by the case. It is called ganglineuropathy. There is another insensitiveness which is deadlier and more dangerous—insensitiveness to sin
There has been 21 years since Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Much has happened and his life and theirs. There has been mountaintops and valley victories and defeat. These boys have grown into men.
When Joseph’s brothers see him after all that time, they do not recognize him. Joseph, however, recognizes them. God uses this encounter to work in the lives of these ten brothers of Joseph. God uses these events to resurrect the conscience they silenced many years ago.
Before we get into the message let’s identify what the conscience is:
Merriam Webster College Dictionary- a sense of moral goodness or blameworthiness of our conduct, actions or thoughts.
Dr. John MacArthur- The conscience entreats us to do what we believe is right and restrains us from doing what we believe is wrong. The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God. It is a human faculty that judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive. When we violate our conscience, it condemns us, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace and even fear. When we follow our conscience, it commends us, bringing, joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being and gladness.”
So, the conscience acts as a rudder for the soul. It is not a guide, but it is an early warning system, which tells us that danger is ahead. When we go against the warnings of our conscience, it punishes us with feelings of guilt, shame and regret.
J. Oswald Chambers-Every conscience needs instruction. Its delicate mechanism has been thrown off balance by the fall. Just as a bullet will reach the bull’s-eye only if the two sights are in correct alignment, so correct moral judgments are delivered only when the conscience is correctly aligned with the Scriptures.”
That’s why it is very dangerous to let your conscience be your guide- the conscience is going to react to what it’s been taught.
False teachers are able to do what they do because their conscience has been seared.
I. The Searing of the Conscience
A. Explain the story of Joseph being sold into slavery.
1. As time passed they probably justified what they did, they thought of Joseph less and less.
2. Their feelings of remorse and guilt were silenced.
B.1 Tim. 4:2- these verses speak of those who have ignored their conscience. They have silenced their warning system.
1. 1984- Avianca Air crashed into the mountains in Spain.
2. That is what happens when the conscience is ignored! When we start to do something we know is wrong, the conscience tells us to “Pull up. Pull up.” If we heed that voice and pull up, all is well. If we ignore that voice and do as we please, we have begun the process of “searing the conscience”. The next time, the voice of the conscience will not be heard as loudly or as clearly. If we continue to ignore our internal warning system, the conscience will eventually stop warning us at all.
C. Eph. 4:19- So insensitive had their consciences become that they had lost the power of moral decision making
II. The Stirring of the Conscience
A. God used problems to stir them (41:56-57)
1. God has a way of making us deal with our problems. These men were having to go to Egypt for food because that’s where the food was.
B. God used people to stir them (42:1-8)
1. Jacob now gets into the picture and tells then to go to Egypt but they couldn’t take Benjamin with them.
2. Joseph now talks rough to them and starts to turn up the heat on them.
C. God used pain to stir them (42:10-20)
1. Joseph forces them home to get Benjamin.
2. Had it not been for the famine they would never have thought of Joseph again.
a. The famine brought them face to face with their sin.
b. Note: If you belong to the Lord and you allow your conscience to become hardened, you need to know that you are going to wander off into sin. Your conscience will cease to warn you of evil and you will fall away. But, if you are His, He will not allow you to remain in that condition forever. He will come and get you and He will use whatever it takes to awaken your conscience.
3. Remember the Prodigal son- hard times brought him back to his father and made him think of where he needed to be.
III. The Securing of the Conscience (42:21-28)
A. They think that God is out to get them when he in fact is just out to bring them back to himself.
B. It is the truth the conscience can be cleansed.
1. Confess and forsake all known sin
2. Seek forgiveness from those you have wronged.
3. Make restitution for the wrong if possible
4. Don’t wait to heal a wounded conscience. If you wait the guilt will fester and your spiritual will only deteriorate.
Has your conscience been instructing you? Are you pulling up or telling the conscience to shut up?