Series: Doers of the Word
Conscience of Man
We’re still talking about a calloused and hardened heart today. As God would seem to have it, this lines up perfectly with this Wednesday where we will be talking about what causes a hardened heart. Today we are looking at what reverses a hardened heart and how to keep it soft, sensitive and responsive to God.
Last week in closing I asked you this question –
How many of you have noticed that whenever you have had times of awakening, that if you did not respond to it with all of your heart – the duration of time between times of awakening grew larger?
Most of you agreed that THIS HAS been your experience in regard to your conscience.
The reason for this is because our response, though passionate at the beginning, begins to taper off over the course of a few days or weeks (for some maybe only hours) BECAUSE we were responding out of the height of the emotional experience of having been awakened and NOT out of heart loyalty to Him. Our conscience had only been illuminated, it had not been cured.
This is IMPORTANT:
- If your response is YOU focused – it will be temporary.
- If your response is GOD focused – it is more likely to last.
Ask me how I know this!
Turn to Isa. 55 if you will…
How many of you have had your heart betray your intentions?
You know, it is a lie the devil tries to sell us that we are the only ones who suffer with a heart that gets excited about the trip, but somewhere along the way you find yourself dragging your reluctant heart like so much dead weight behind you. The very heart that encouraged the change is now slowing and eventually stopping its progress.
Our hearts are like children spoiled by too much fun and entertainment. We tell our children we are going to Disney World and they get all excited. But 15 minutes into the 2.5 hour trip there and all their enthusiasm reduces to complaints!
God comes and awakens our hearts to the rapturous feelings of being close and intimate with Him again, and your heart nobility declares its intentions to follow God in perfect loyalty to the end. Then in a day or two when the excitement of the moment has passed we find our hearts lagging behind, kicking stones as it shuffles slowly down the road – no longer in the passion of the moment and looking around every corner for something new and exciting to follow after.
As I was contemplating this a song from Tim Miner came to me called Heart and I realized as it played in my head how it was concerning this same instability of soul that he wrote this song.
I’ve fallen deeper as time’s gone by
All because of you
I left her standing alone that night
All because of you
Heart, you’ve done it again
Lost, hopelessly lost in love (oh my friend)
Oh, what will I do, with you
You promised not to lie to me again!
Well this is where we find ourselves when we are led about by the most fickle of our hearts compartments. Emotions are to be the RESULTS of decisions, not the instigator of them. They have no real sustaining power. One of the MOST dangerous things a person can do is allow their emotions to silence their conscience, rather than their conscience subject their emotions to counsel.
Emotions are like seasoning we place onto food. Salt & pepper, are wonderful flavor enhancers, but they are NO substitution for what they flavor. You cannot sustain a steady diet of JUST salt and pepper – it leads to death…and so does living by your emotions.
How many of you have found that emotions encourage you to bad and often impetuous decisions, which often lack a solid footing in good old common sense? Every time we act upon these emotions, using them as our guiding factor, we harden our hearts to the voice of our conscience a little more.
Well it in this place of sponsored poor decisions that God asks the question He does in Isa. 55
God here begins with an invitation to come and eat the steak NOT just the salt and pepper and then asks them a question which I believe we have already answered this morning.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is NOT food and your wages for that which does not truly satisfy?”
Last week we introduced the fact that our conscience can become defiled, insensitive & calloused but that God could make it sensitive again – only it is in HIS power to make the reversal. He alone has the reset button.
Then I told you that Isaiah chapter 55 shows us how to live in the power of the “reset button”. So I asked you to pour over this chapter this week and let me just tell you now, that those of you who spent the time I asked you to, will be the ones who learn the most and who walk away with the most today. Those of you who took it casually, will get little. In other words you reap a harvest which is consistent with the labor you put into the field of your heart which is in itself a lesson of developing a good conscience.
So, let me ask you, what were your thoughts about this chapter – especially as it pertains to reviving and re-sensitizing your conscience?
GOD FASHIONS THE HEART
Psa 33:13-15, “(13) The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. (14) From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; (15) He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.”
1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you- The sure mercies of David.
4 Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, A leader and commander for the people.
5 Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, And nations who do not know you shall run to you, Because of the LORD your God, And the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.”
6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
I found that the words “while he may be” & “while he is” were missing in the Hebrew. In other words this verse could be translated, “Seek the Lord found, call Him near”, so I was wondering what the justification was for adding “While he may BE found or While He IS near”…and I could find none. Never the less I knew it was both my and our collective experience as we mentioned first thing this morning. But subjective experience is NO basis for sound doctrine so I asked the Lord for examples of this in scripture IF it is true. In very short order I heard the words “and would none of My reproof” going on in my head. So I looked it up…turn with me to Prov. 1.
Let me encourage you with this…
Seeking the Lord is not just something we do to reverse a campus heart, it is something we do which can also prevent it if it is done regularly and in sincerity.
The scriptures tell us to Delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart. The word delight means to be pliable in his hands which is something that a calloused and hardened heart cannot do.
“(20) Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. (21) She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: (22) “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. (23) Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. (24) Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, (25) Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, (27) When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. (28) “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. (29) Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, (30) They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. (31) Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. (32) For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; (33) But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.”
So I told the Lord thank you, because this was a great example of there being times when we could call upon Him and He NOT be near to us. BUT, where is there an example of our being drawn back to You because YOU instigated it. In other words, is their proof by example in scripture, that once the conscience is callous, it takes the sovereign work of God to bring it back around to sensitivity again.
Then I began to hear the words, “return the captivity” which led me on a search to find this passage…
1 “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, And she goes from him And becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the LORD.
2 “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them Like an Arabian in the wilderness; And you have polluted the land With your harlotries and your wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; You refuse to be ashamed.
4 Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth?
5 Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, As you were able.”
6 The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot.
7 And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.
9 So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.
11 Then the LORD said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God, And have scattered your charms To alien deities under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.
14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding”
So we can see there are times when God is near and times He is not…but that it IS God Who holds the reset button of the heart or the conscience.
So what is the proper response to the Lord drawing us towards repentance?
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the LORD for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Consider James 4
“1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”
The next part of this which is about WHO hardens the heart, will be covered on Wednesday night...Blessings!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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