Posted in theology

An example of a seared conscience

By Elizabeth Prata

The Bible mentions a seared conscience. The ones who bring false doctrine to the believers,

through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, (1 Timothy 4:2)

According to Strong’s Greek lexicon, the word seared is cauterized, which destroys the “spiritual nerve-endings.”

Witness the scene in the desert among Joseph’s brothers. The brothers have been nursing a hatred of Joseph for many years. Jacob obviously loved Joseph the most, and such favoritism was a wedge between the brothers. It incited resentment. (Genesis 37:3-4).

Then Joseph told the brothers about his dream whose obvious interpretation was of prophesied superiority over them, which inflamed the resentment to hatred. (Genesis 37:8).

Then Joseph again told his brothers of another dream which confirmed the coming rulership over them, (Genesis 37:9), and the brothers hated Joseph even more and were jealous. (Genesis 37:11).

When the brothers were keeping flocks at Dothan, Jacob sent Joseph to them to bring back a report on how the flocks were doing. The brothers saw Joseph coming from a distance. Now, this isn’t in the Bible but human nature being what it is, I am sure that the brothers had been discussing Joseph’s dreams, the situation of favoritism with the father, and their hatred and jealousy. Such discussions, re-hashings, and tidbits are juicy and the flesh wants them more and more, and I’m sure that the more the brothers talked about it the angrier they became. They were pretty whipped up by then, I’m guessing.

And this next part IS in the Bible, Genesis 37:18, the brothers plotted to kill him. Reuben and Judah could not go quite that far when the moment came, so instead they decided to throw Joseph into a well.

Then they sat down to eat.

The Bible does not record whether Joseph cried out to the brothers while he was in the well. But human beings being like we are, I’m pretty sure Joseph would not have remained silent? “Guys, this joke’s gone far enough…Hey guys, can you get me up?…Reuben? Judah? Anyone? Anyone? Help! Don’t leave me!”

Amid this act, and whether Joseph stayed quiet or whether he cried out, the brothers ate. I don’t know about you but when I’m agitated, conscience stricken,, upset, I cannot eat. Yet their consciences were so seared they went about their usual business while their own brother was busy perhaps dying in the well.

We are sinners from the womb and there is no doubt about that!

The Lord graciously gave them a spirit of repentance later in life and the brothers were reconciled. This is not always the case with false teachers that the opening scripture speaks of. In fact, some false teachers are already marked for condemnation. (Jude 1:4).

How does a conscience become seared? Ignore it. Keep suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and see the inevitable hardening process that Romans 1:28-32 engenders. If you feel guilty about something, seek the Lord in repentance. Don’t let your spiritual nerve endings become insensate. A conscience is one of the mechanisms God graciously has given us to stay in right relationship with Him. Don’t sear it.

The well in town


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

2 thoughts on “An example of a seared conscience

  1. Good article. We know that Joseph pleaded with his brothers, and they turned a deaf ear and would not listen. (Ch. 42) I do think the fact that Reuben wasn’t ready to kill him and planned to rescue him indicates a softer heart than the others. But perhaps I just feel sorry for Reuben, given the lack of blessing he got for his sinful actions with his stepmother. (UGH!) I’d like to think he wasn’t completely a lost cause….

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    1. Thank you! I KNEW I’d read that Joseph had pleaded but could not find it for some reason!! I really appreciate the scripture confirmation. I agree, Reuben at least was too afraid to go that far (murder)…but since Joseph forgave them and since they seemed to have repented of their deeds by the end, and since their father blessed each one with different prophecies for their tribe and eventual outcome (not all of them so great but at least except for Dan, remained in the table of tribes), then it seems that these men were graciously given an opportunity to repent. Not all who have hardened consciences are allowed that opportunity. (Pharaoh, Pharisees, Herod, Cain…)

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