Yesterday we introduced 10 steps in the journey towards Christ. Today we’re going to spend time talking about the first two steps, which are ignorance of and indifference to sin. Remember that sin is anything we think, say, or do that goes against God’s holy standards. People in steps one and two do not know of or care about God’s holy standards.
1. Ignorance of the concept or existence of sin
We have all been at step one at some point in our lives. Babies are born into ignorance of sin. People with intellectual disabilities may never comprehend the concept of sin. Let’s discuss this first:
For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. (Romans 7:8-9 ESV)
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5 NLT)
From these two passages, we understand that we are born into sin. Every person, from the fetus to the elderly, stands guilty before God. However; apart from the Law, sin lies dead. If we do not comprehend that we break God’s holy law, we do not understand that we “sin”. When we start to become aware of conscience, God’s law begins to come alive in our hearts. There is no specific age at which this occurs; it is highly individual.
It is commonly understood that those who die before being able to comprehend making a decision for or against Christ are saved “apart from the law” according to God’s great mercy. This is possible because Christ’s death is presented as sufficient for all of humanity.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)
He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. (1 John 2:2 NLT)
Salvation of babies, children, and the mentally disabled is not a clear teaching in Scripture, so we can only speculate. We choose to trust in God’s goodness, holiness, and love. However He judges each heart for eternal destiny will be completely just and merciful.
From George Barna’s research study, he found that approximately 1% of the adult population falls into this first step – completely ignorant of sin.
2. Aware of but Indifferent to Sin
In step two, people become aware of sin but are not bothered by it. The law has “sprung alive” in their hearts; they have knowledge there is a moral code they have broken. Instead of wanting to find out more, or do something about it, they harden their hearts against sin. God describes this as “their conscience being seared”. They allow themselves to be blinded by the god of this world instead of turning to the one true God.
Those who comprehend but deny the truth that is written on their hearts (conscience) will be held accountable for it:
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:18 ESV)
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” (John 12:20 ESV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 1:18 – 2:5 ESV)
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:12-16 ESV)
Whether or not they are aware that it is God’s laws they are breaking, people will be held “without excuse” on the day of judgment.
When you first go against your conscience in some area of your life, you feel it. It is a nagging feeling that what you did was wrong. At that point, you will either submit to your conscience and do the right thing, or you will resist your conscience and prepare once again to go against it. That is a critical mistake. By going against our conscience, we risk losing our bearings and reaping a whirlwind of consequences due to wrong choices.
A person who continually goes against his conscience is in danger of “searing” his conscience. This dulls the work of your conscience and its ability to help you make good decisions. A seared conscience is a very dangerous thing. It provides its owner with a false sense of comfort over wrong behavior, and an unhealthy outlook which will continue to cause major problems.
The Bible explains how a person’s conscience can actually go from being your prosecuting attorney to your defense attorney. That progression is lethal. Paul writes, “The requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2:15) This describes the process whereby man’s conscience stops accusing him, and actually begins defending his bad behavior. That my friend is a seared conscience.
You may have spent some time in step two or you may have bypassed it altogether. I’m quite confident you are not in step two now, as you are here reading this 😉
Barna’s research found that approximately 16% of the people he interviewed fell into Step 2. Remember that all the people Barna interviewed called themselves “Christian”. Alarming.
Please Pray With Me:
Jesus, I want to live according to the knowledge You have given me. Please remove any and all hardness in my heart towards You. You are the Creator of all things and are worthy to be praised. I choose to give You the honor and glory due to Your Name today.
I would like for you to watch this video today if you are able. It is about the Delusion of Athiesm, by Ray Comfort.
- Where do I Find the Age of Accountability in the Bible? (Gotquestions)
- Safe in the Arms of God: Words from Heaven about the Death of a Child (John MacArthur)
- What Does it Mean to Have a Seared Conscience? (Gotquestions)
- What is Spiritual Blindness? (Gotquestions)