Still Small Voice
Have you forsaken the possibility of being guided by the conscience God has built into you?
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? You doing all right today? Well, I’m fine, thank you. This is your friend, Dr. Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. Just it’s so great to feel great and happy in the Lord, and to be alive to serve Him, isn’t it? Oh, and I’m glad for this privilege of chatting with you day by day, by way of the modern miracle of radio and the gracious provision of those who have opened up these channels that we might minister to you. Thanks to them, thanks to God, and thanks to you.
Well, we’re looking at 1 Timothy 4. We just got through with verse one. Now, we come to verse two. “These are the marks of apostasy.” Apostasy is simply a setting aside, a drifting aside from the Truth of God. It’s that simple. Nothing complex about it. But that’s the way it works.
And so he says. “There will be some who will stand off,” “apostasia,” that’s where we get the word “apostasy,” “From the truth. And they’ll depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Then he says, “In hypocrisy speaking lies.” The marks of apostasy. What is it? Well, one of the marks is hypocrisy. This is strange and yet a challenging truth. When you depart from the revealed will of God, inevitably you end up putting on an act.
Now, you look around you and see whether Cook is right about that. Look around you and see the people who have stepped aside from the Truth of God, and who are proclaiming something other than the blessed Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe they’re off into politics, maybe they’re off into some kind of mysticism, maybe they’ve begun to dabble with the occult, whatever it is. But you watch them now, and observe these people who have stepped aside from the revealed Truth of God, the inerrant, infallible Word of God, the Bible. You watch them, and you listen to them, you look at them, and you’ll find in every case that at some point or other, they’re putting on an act. It’s their thing. Now, they may be sincere about it, as sincere as they know how to be, but it boils down to something they’re putting on; to a front, a facade.
Well, the Bible calls it hypocrisy. What do you think about that? We get the word “hypocrisy” from the idea of play acting, putting on an act. And the idea of lies, speaking lies, is a compound word that we would transliterate it “pseudo-truth.” If “logos” is the word of truth, then you find this word “pseudológōn” is a pseudo-truth; it seems like truth. It’s not too hard to distinguish. Does it? Not too hard to distinguish the message of those who have stepped aside from the Word of God. It sounds like truth, but isn’t the real thing.
And the blessed indwelling Spirit of God will witness with your spirit when it’s not real. I’ve been through this, and I guess many of you have too. You’ve been listening to someone, or talking with someone, and down in your heart, there is that still, small voice that says, “There’s something that isn’t right about this. Something’s not right about this.” And you’re warned about it. And then later on you find out that it was indeed something that you were not to meddle with.
Learn to listen for the voice of the indwelling Spirit of God as He whispers to your heart. The Spirit of God will always lead you in line with the inerrant Word of God, the Bible. But God does speak directly to you. Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things whatsoever I have said unto you. He shall guide you continually.” So being guided by the Spirit of God and being reminded by the Spirit of God who dwells within the believer is the process that will protect you from the pseudo-truth, speaking lies and hypocrisy.
Now, what have I said so far? When you step aside from the revealed Truth of God, you end up putting on an act. No question about it, you watch people who are apart from God’s revealed Truth. And you’ll find them trying somehow to put their best foot forward, somehow to put on a good show. They may think they’re sincere. Maybe they are. But they’re putting on an act because that’s all you can do. Listen, beloved. That’s all you can do if you don’t stick to the Truth of God. It’s either God’s Truth or man’s makeup. Pretty solid stuff, isn’t it? Well, beloved, I take my stand with the revealed will of God in the Bible, God’s inerrant Word. How about you?
Then He says, “As a result now, they’re putting on an act.” And, because God has built that little mental moral monitor into every person’s mind and heart that we call the conscience, they’re going to be reminded about it from time to time. But, if you do anything often enough you’ll get used to it. And so He says, “Speaking lies and hypocrisy, having their conscience seared as with a hot iron.” “Speaking lies and hypocrisy, having their conscience seared as with a hot iron.”
When you sear something, the heat closes up all of the surface there and makes it impossible then for any normal flow. Seared conscience. Now, how does this work? Well, I guess we all know pretty well how it works. The first time you disobey God on a matter, you feel bad about it, and you think, “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that,” and you feel bad. But then you go on and the next time you disobey God on the same thing you don’t feel quite so bad. And finally you end up feeling quite comfortable with it and it doesn’t bother you at all.
Now, that’s what happens to your conscience when you are putting on some kind of an act apart from the will, the revealed Truth of God. It does something to your ability to know right from wrong. You are committed to something that you’re putting on and in that commitment you have also forsaken the possibility of being guided by the conscience God built into you. You’re shutting it off.
John Clemenger, a friend of mine from back in the 1940s, was in the military, and he told me a story of what happened during those days, those war days. They brought some of the pilots back for refresher courses; Navy pilots back for refresher courses. And they were based at an airfield somewhere down south, Louisiana or wherever it was, an airfield that was surrounded by swamp. It was a sort of a big, mile-long runway with a swamp at the end, and it had several different runways at different angles, as big airports do. “This particular pilot,” John said, “Had been brought back from combat for some kind of R&R and was now doing takeoffs and landings with a kind of aircraft where the wings fold up.”
You fliers know something about that? An aircraft that can be stashed on the deck of a carrier with its wings folded and then the wings fold down when you want to takeoff. All right? On this particular occasion he was taxiing with the wings up, I’m told. And, he got to the place where he wanted to takeoff and the tower said, “The wind has changed. Go to runway so and so.” So he grumbled a little, but he turned around and taxied over to the other runway. When he got there, to his dismay and irritation, the tower said, “Sorry, the wind has changed again. Go to runway so and so.” Well, he was just upset. He thought, “Here I am, a veteran of combat. I know my stuff here and I don’t know why I have to fool around with all of this. We used to takeoff with all sorts of wind, side winds and all the rest.” And so, he just decided he was not going to follow those instructions. He pushed the throttle forward, got the airplane in motion, roared down the runway, and never took off because as he went into the swamp he remembered he had forgotten to pull down the wings. [laughter]
Well, they were all laughing and he was in deep trouble with the brass for disobeying an instruction and wrecking an expensive aircraft. That’s what John Clemenger told me. The flier who forgot to fold down his wings because he was mad and he went and committed himself to something that simply disregarded instructions.
Now, how is it with you and with me? Life is a pretty simple, fundamental business after all. We make it complex, but life is made up of all sorts of decisions moment by moment, and in each case you and I have the opportunity of committing ourselves to the Lord or of doing our own will. I have to confess that sometimes I’ve found myself praying, “Lord, I want your will,” and then, at the same time, steering toward my own way. Have you ever done that? Well, God knows our hearts and thank God He’s merciful, and He does forgive, and He does guide, and He does bless in spite of us.
Wendell Loveless, who just went to be with the Lord at age 99, said to me one day in my student days-He met me there at the Moody Bible Institute out in front of the old 53 building. And, he said, “Well, Bob, how are you doing?” And I said, “Oh, I’m doing great. The Lord is blessing.” He looked at me and smiled and said very quietly, “Yes, I guess He’s blessing in spite of you, isn’t He?” [chuckle] How right he was.
Oh, listen, we have a loving, merciful, forgiving God, that is true, and would you find out whether or not you and I have been doing some things that tend to grow some calluses, let us say, on the surface of our conscience? Keep a tender conscience before God, beloved, will you?
Dear Father today, give us a tender conscience and a willingness to depend entirely upon Thy will for our lives, in Jesus’ name I pray this, amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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