The early sins of youth result in a heavy burden of guilt on the fresh, sensitive conscience of innocence. But ignoring guilt will soon become rejection of guilt and rejection of it soon becomes acceptance of it, and that becomes a habit, and that a way of life and a seared, calloused conscience.
I think God has given us a trio of powerful elements which penetrate our conscience to pressure us back into the way of righteousness and to keep us out of the ditch of unrestrained wickedness. Those three guilt producing restraints are listed in Romans 2:15. "The work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing ...." 1. The laws of God, in our hearts, convicts of sin. 2. Our own internal, human conscience convicts us. 3. Our mind's ability to rationalize what is good and what is evil convicts us.
The Apostle Paul admonished us to do right, to do good, not only because we "fear" God's wrath but because our own conscience convicts us to do good and not evil. "Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake." Rom.13:5.
A person is not hopelessly lost if their conscience is still operational. Even those judgemental, self-righteous religionists who were ready to stone the woman taken in adultery, backed off and slipped quietly away when Jesus challenged them...."... He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her...And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one..." John 8:7 & 9.
And yet, there is a time and place when those who have willfully presumptuously continued to reject guilt, a convicting conscience and the Holy Spirit, until finally they have lost all sensitivity and guilt of sin."Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron...." 1Tim.4:2. That hopeless state is simply a spiritual numbness which is past feeling of guilt. "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." Eph.4:18-19.
The following verses were spoken to the nation of Israel through Hosea the prophet; but this prophecy reveals the mind of God toward any nation which has been often given the word of God and then "rejects" that "knowledge of God", His "truth" and as a consequence, His "mercy" also. Therefore, Hosea 4 applies not only to Israel but to pseudo "Christian America" as well. Our national conscience has obviously been seared over and appears to be past feeling.Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD ..... for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
(There is no "mercy" because there is no "truth" because there is no "knowledge of God" in the land..... Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. (All these evils have "broken out" of the boundaries of God's tolerance and the waywardness of the nation because our sins are continuous ... "blood toucheth blood"..... Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:3 Therefore, shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish ...." (It is unrestrained sins which have caused the entire nation to "mourn" and the people to become emotionally and spiritually numb to sin .... Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. ( They were all so infected or affected by their national and personal sins that nobody was guiltless and none qualified to "reprove" the others.... Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day and the prophet also shall fall with thee...."
(Have we, as a nation, "rejected" the "knowledge of God, His truth, and, therefore, His mercy", and have therefore forfeited His promise of Psalms 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance."
(Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (That speaks for itself.... Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. (As God increased America in numbers, wealth, power and influence, have we also increased in wickedness as in the days of Noah so that destruction is the only remedy? Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. (Their sins were delicious to them and their hearts were obsessed with their iniquities. If there is a single verse which described the nation of Israel when Messiah, Christ walked among them and of America over the last 75 years, it must be this one.... Are we there yet?)
Hosea 4:9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. (The people were no more sinful than their ministers who were primarily responsible for the lack of the "knowledge of God and His truth" and the resulting judgement. Have we, like they, by our own loss of standards, determined our own diminishing destiny, as a nation? Are we there yet?)
Israel, because of their rejection of God, was sold into bondage by Him several times. The rejection of Christ being the last time. What makes us think He will not do the same to America? I don't think America has ever had a majority of its people, its Congress, its President and his cabinet who were so anti-Christian and, therefore, anti-Christ ... until now.
Considering the pornographic content of what we watch, read and talk about, and the insane way the majority of us vote, is our national conscience seared over and past feeling? Judging by God's past dealings with such nations, what does that portend for our future as a nation? RB