The nation was shaking off a depression so severe that it is now called, “The Great Depression” and our family, like many others, was hard hit. We were the blessed ones – our father had a job in the northwest Texas oil fields. Low paying, but it was a job. We lived in a tarpaper shack with linoleum floors and calcimined beaverboard walls. Seeing a picture of the setting today, “poverty” would come to mind. But we were happy as we went through the seasons – the spinning-the-top season, the shooting-marbles season, the kite- flying season, the rubber-gun-shooting season, the stilt-walking season, the rolling-old discarded-automobile-tires season along with many others. Our family was stable. The worries of our parents did not seep through to us. The breezes blew and the bright sun shone and life was as idyllic as it could have been in a mansion in the big city – that would have been Burkburnet, population maybe a thousand, a few miles away.
We moved to the REALLY big city, Dallas, when I was eleven and it was a few years before I went back. The first thing I noticed was the huge, overpowering, nauseating, almost lose-your-breakfast type stench of oil and refineries! It dawned on me! “It was there all along! I was just used to it!”
In I Timothy 4:1,2 the Holy Spirit tells us, “But the Spirit says expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.” This is from the RSV. Instead of “branded” the King James says “seared.” A more free wheeling version, the CEV says, “Their consciences have lost all feeling.” This is not a translation, but it does explain, in this case, the true meaning.
Beware of the conscience that has lost all feeling! We do it to ourselves when we continually reject the teachings of God’s Word. It can happen to the alien sinner who reaches a point where the word does not have power to move him to repentance because he has cast it aside so many times that his conscience gives up.
It happens also to the Christian when he begins to drift away from a close walk with God and begins to say, “I know I should but…” Like the sense of smell and other senses, there comes a time when the function has been so often assailed that it says, “I’m not being listened to so why continue to send the message!”
Praise God if your conscience still works! Nurse it back to health if it doesn’t. It may be a blessing if your nose shuts out a disagreeable odor. But if your conscience shuts out the word of God, the power of salvation is inaccessible!