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May 7 – Guilt and our conscience

“…Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” – 1 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV)

Scripture reading: Genesis 42:1-28

Joseph’s brothers were hardened men. Their hardened consciences gave them no qualms as they contemplated the murder of their brother, but sold him to the Ishmaelites instead (Genesis 37:18-28). But years later, God pierced their consciences through their confrontation with Joseph whom they did not recognize (v. 28).

Our conscience is the sentry of our heart. It is the guard at the door of our heart that sounds the alarm when we are tempted to sin. In 1 Timothy 4:2 Paul describes consciences that have been seared as with a hot iron. He is pointing out that you can harden your conscience so that it won’t convict you when you are tempted to do wrong. But anyone who hardens their conscience is like a homeowner who tells his watchdog to be quiet when the burglars are coming. Just as you can command a dog not to bark over and over, until that dog is no longer a worthy watchdog, the conscience can be hardened to the point where you will hardly feel a twinge of guilt even when you sin wilfully.

The conscience has been likened to a sundial. Sundials are used to tell time, but they are only effective when the sun is shining. In a similar way, God has given us a conscience, but it is only accurate when the light of His Word is shining on it.

Although Joseph’s treatment of his brothers may seem harsh, it was gracious, for it awakened their deadened consciences.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank the Lord for giving you a conscience and pray that instead of hardening it, you would seek the light of God’s Word to guide you as it illuminates your conscience and your heart.

Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

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