1 Timothy 3:14-4:16, Psalm 111


If someone told you to beware liars whose teachings are informed by demons and that have “seared consciences”, you might imagine a prototypical person with a list of vile traits. This list of characteristics might include: abusive, sexually immoral, and cruel. How does Paul, however, describe the actions of people with a consciences out of whack? They are those that, “forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods”. (1 Timothy 4:3) Besides calling such people “killjoys” most of us would not suggest these are the sorts of people who have their consciences mangled. To Paul, however, people like this are peculiarly perverse because they believe their little behavior adjustments can cover over their own evils, which are far greater than desiring marriage or eating bacon. The person who commands such self-denying practices does so hoping to ensure good standing with God through pathetic sacrifices, while ignoring the need for salvation from the penalty for wrongdoing. Paul wants nothing to do with any teaching that substitutes our need for our great substitute, Jesus. The idea that our pretentious deeds are sufficient to satisfy the just demands of our righteous God is unconscionable. One really must have a distorted conscience to believe that we are morally upright on our own. So, as bad as it is to be bad, it is worse to think that we are good in spite of all contrary evidence. Of all the evidence, the strongest proof of our unrighteousness should come from our God-given consciences alerting us to the horrors we note in our hearts and actions. To believe we are truly good reveals a conscience ripped apart.