Have you ever wondered how a professing Christian can live a life of duplicity, deception, and great damage to other people without having genuine remorse? My new book, Hypocrisy Exposed, gives biblical insight into situations of this nature. One of the factors involved is what the Bible calls a seared conscience.
Below is a brief excerpt from Hypocrisy Exposed that explains this phenomenon:
Our conscience is a built-in system of self-governance that helps us to know when we have done something wrong. For example, a person with a healthy conscience will experience a twinge of guilt if they tell a lie. For the believer, this should lead to confession, repentance, and cleansing through the blood of Jesus (see 1 John 1:9). But the Bible makes it plain that not everyone’s conscience is functioning as it should. It is possible to have a good and pure conscience (see 1 Timothy 1:5 and 1 Timothy 3:9), but it is also possible to have a defiled conscience (see Titus 1:15). And worse yet, it is even possible to have a seared conscience:
“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.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2, emphasis added)
This passage describes those who depart from the faith and come under the deception of evil spirits. Notice the connection between hypocrisy and a seared conscience. This is one of the factors that allows a hypocrite to function in such a deceptive way without experiencing a sense of guilt over it. Proverbs 30:20 describes the person with a seared conscience: “This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wickedness.’” This is the way of the chronic cheater, sexual predator, pathological liar, domestic abuser, false prophet, and deceptive embezzler. Tremendous damage is done to others, with no empathy for the victims or genuine remorse.
How can a person flatter you to your face and then curse and slander you behind your back? How can a person pretend to care about the poor, only for the sake of stealing money? How can a person act righteously in public, and live lawlessly in private? For a person with a functional conscience, there is no way to imagine living this way. But a hypocrite does not have a healthy and pure conscience. It is defiled at best and seared at worst. This is what counselors and psychologists refer to as a sociopath or a psychopath; a person with a low-functioning or non-existent conscience.
Losing one’s conscience does not happen at random and nor does it occur overnight. It happens through a series of choices, suppression of truth and conviction, justification of sin, and embracing deception. A person without a functional conscience is capable of terrible deception and evil.
Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment to recognize when we are dealing with a person who has a seared conscience. And let’s submit our own mind and conscience to the Lord in order to have a pure conscience and walk in integrity of heart!