Commentary on "The Fruit of the Spirit is Truth"
Day 5: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
One quick question as we begin: Has your conscience been seared, or has it been redeemed and made alive with the oil of God’s Holy Spirit and the wine of his new life in Christ?
In today’s lesson, the author provides a good definition of a hypocrite. Jesus’ confrontations with the religious leaders of his day indicate that they were not practicing what they preached. It is one thing to realize that we all are sinners, in need of a savior. It is quite another to think that we are observing all that God has revealed to us, while we ignore the weightier matters of the law (Mt. 23:23).
It is interesting that Jesus identifies justice, mercy and faithfulness as being weightier than other matters of the law. Our consciences can be seared, not only by practicing wickedness, but also by practicing hypocrisy. The more advanced we become in these practices, the more our consciences are seared.
When something is seared, it is unresponsive and sterile. The longer one lives, the more one becomes either responsive or unresponsive to the Spirit of God. It is at this point that one item from today’s lesson must be addressed.
The lesson states, on p. 144 that “The final fires will, unfortunately, have way too many folks who knew more than enough objective truths to be saved.”
This is true. At the bottom of the page, the questions are asked:
What’s your own experience of a “seared conscience”? How long did it take until the act that had, at first, seared your conscience barely touched it at all? Why did that happen, and why is it so spiritually dangerous?
Rather than spending time contemplating this repeated “act” that resulted in your own seared conscience, spend time praising God for delivering you from this sin.
Spending time dwelling on a particular sin and how it worked on you specifically may be counterproductive. It would be more productive to spend time identifying ways in which the Holy Spirit can restore a conscience. A study of Romans chapters 7 and 8 may be profitable for this discussion. It is here that we learn about the distinction between the body and the spirit. We also learn that the Spirit of God can give life to our mortal bodies, which includes our conscience.
We are fallen beings. Our consciences are fallen. Although God does speak to us through our conscience, he is much more powerful than our conscience and can restore one even though it has been seared – sterilized and unresponsive – to full communion with him through his Spirit.
Romans 8:10-11 reads:
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
This is great news! We need not fear the “final fires” that can permanently sear our consciences; we can rejoice that we can be made alive while still dwelling in these mortal bodies. Of course, this is conditioned on one big “if.”
“If Christ is in you” – Is he in you? Although it may be important to understand how our consciences can be seared, it is much more important to know that Christ is in you and is your hope (eternal surety) of glory.
Colossians 1:24-27 tells us about this hope.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Romans 8:24-25 also tells us about this hope:
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
This hope that we have in Christ is not a hope as the world understands hope. It is not just wishful thinking. Hebrews tells us how sure this hope is. Read Hebrews 11:1:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The Greek word that is rendered “conviction” and transliterated elegchos literally means a proof or a test. This hope is substantial. And if we have accepted Christ’s invitation to be found in him, we will not worry about those “final fires” or the fact that our consciences have been seared.
Once we are in him, he will soften our heart and restore our conscience with the oil of his Holy Spirit and the wine of his new life.
GO TO DAY 6
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