While it’s accurate to discuss abortion as “doctrine of demons,” for no power of God could ever endorse the killing of innocent children, the next phrase Paul writes here is disturbing because it’s talking about believers:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron. (I Tim. 4:1-2, NASB)
The statement about having a seared conscience is striking. Seared literally means what the NASB says: to burn as with a branding iron. The etymology of the word includes “dried up, withered,” along with burned.
In the last days, some will “fall away from the faith” by giving into a searing of their consciences. This passage doesn’t say “the lost have seared consciences”—although certainly some do. This is a passage saying that some who claim faith will fall away from it. That’s serious stuff. That’s people in our churches, our home groups, our Bible studies. That could be us if we are not walking “circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15).
A vast majority of Americans still call themselves Christians, yet some identify as pro-choice. Our president who promotes abortion funding says he is a Christian. Many of our governmental leaders call themselves Christians. Even a “liberal” group of nuns support abortion rights, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice promotes identical abortion rights to Planned Parenthood–in the name of faith. My point isn’t to analyze the faith of everyone who says he or she is a Christian, but in some cases it’s easy to see how Paul’s admonition can apply.
Consciences do not become seared overnight. We don’t go to bed a true believer and wake up supporting abortion, perversion, and sin. Searing comes over time as we open our eyes to things we shouldn’t and let in ideas that we call “progressive,” rather than sinful.
Recently we learned that the comic character of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, had decided to have an abortion. We’ve turned the shedding of innocent blood into comic books and reality shows.
Deception is deceptive. That’s not as much of a “duh” statement as it appears. The very nature of searing our consciences is that we are deceived and not walking in truth and light because we have slowly allowed things to creep in that sound “good.” Words like choice sound very liberating and freeing in a culture shaped by a government founded on choice in the name of freedom of religion. We claim we are free from “legalism,” that we are walking in liberty and grace. But the very liberty we claim is a doctrine of demons, and it is actually a bondage that puts our souls in danger. It’s not legalism to believe in the absolute truth Jesus taught.
The writer of Hebrews says: “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Heb. 6:4-6, NASB)
This passage is often used to debate eternal security, but it’s deeper. If we have known the truth of Jesus and believed Him, and then allowed our consciences to be withered away and charred, how could we begin to renew what’s maimed? If we go that far, it is possible to get to a point where we brand our souls as something far apart from Jesus.
In fact, Jesus Himself warns of this to the Laodicean church. He says:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me … eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. (Rev. 3:15-18, NASB)
We are a nation of many with seared consciences. We have opened our eyes to so many things in the name of grace and freedom and become like Laodiceans who think we have everything and really are poor and blind. As the lines get drawn in our nation, and world, we need to be a people who, like Job, declare “I have made a covenant with my eyes” (Job 31:1) and determine to walk uprightly and not even gaze on ideologies that could lead us astray. Experimenting with darkness is the first step to searing our consciences.
LifeNews Note: Susan Michelle is the editor of Bound4Life’s blog.