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1 Question Do you hear voices? Most people are aware of their “internal voice” that is often associated with the conscience. For some people this voice.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Question Do you hear voices? Most people are aware of their “internal voice” that is often associated with the conscience. For some people this voice."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Question Do you hear voices? Most people are aware of their “internal voice” that is often associated with the conscience. For some people this voice is heard as an incessantly demanding, controlling, dictator which nearly always condemns their behavior and finds fault with their choices and conduct. This is false guilt which operates an overactive conscience.

2 2 This Week I. Continue discussing the concept of conscience. II. Examine the idea of a “seared” conscience. III. Examine the phenomenon of the “overactive conscience” and “false guilt”. IV. Discriminate between the voice of the Holy Spirit and the overactive conscience. Lesson Plan

3 3 I. The Seared Conscience a. One of the tragic outcomes of the entrance of sin into the human race is the capacity of man to violate his conscience with impunity and through repetitious acts against the dictates of his own conscience, to thereby become hardened. Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; KJV

4 4 I. The Seared Conscience b. Such perversion of God’s design leads one to a place where he not only ignores conscience but takes pleasure in his own wickedness and descends into a level of depravity that may be virtually limitless. Rom 1:29-32 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. KJV

5 5 I. The Seared Conscience c. Just as the scar tissue of seared flesh has lost its sensitivity, once the delicate nerves in the skin have been destroyed, that portion of skin has no feeling. So too there are consciences which nothing can affect. Appeals to honor and to shame are alike useless. 1 Tim 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; KJV

6 6 I. The Seared Conscience d. While there is no remedy for flesh that is so damaged, in the spiritual realm there remains the possibility for healing and the renewal of spirit that enables man to once again respond to dictates of conscience. Eph 4:17-19 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 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. KJV

7 7 I. The Seared Conscience e. This renewal of conscience is in fact part and parcel of being born again according to the Spirit. Eph 4:20-24 But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. KJV

8 8 I. The Seared Conscience f. In the born again believer the Spirit is free to convict of sin and guide behavioral decision making which is why change is both a proof of salvation and a testimony of the power of God in the lives of believers. Rom 8:10-14 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

9 9 II. The Over Active Conscience & False Guilt a. False guilt and its overactive conscience, is another aberration which cannot be ignored by the believer. It is a cruel heresy that seeks self- flagellation in the place of resting in the meritorious atonement of Christ for one’s sins.

10 10 II. The Over Active Conscience & False Guilt b. The overactive conscience always second guesses its own decisions and actions, it is self-critical. And like so many other issues of the psyche, this experience of guilt and overactive conscience are fear driven. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. NIV

11 11 II. The Over Active Conscience & False Guilt c. The irrational fear is of offending; fear of upsetting others; fear of one’s own emotions; fear and self- loathing; fear of consequences and the deep seated primal fear of personal inadequacy. It is all about the self. d. The experience is called false guilt because it most often does not flow out of real offenses but resides in the very real fear that one might offend. Offending or disappointing another must be avoided because it renders one “guilty”.

12 12 III. Self-Talk: The Source of False Guilt a. Since false guilt emanates from within the psyche, it is perceived as an internal dialogue which demands, criticizes, scorns, and chastises constantly. b. The expectations experienced by the overactive conscience come from oneself, parents (whether alive or not), friends, bosses, peers, or distorted images of God. False guilt is always looking for people to please.

13 13 III. Self-Talk: The Source of False Guilt c. The mission of a person's overactive conscience is to meet the expectations of others; it is outer- directed. The whole purpose is to meet expectations in order to gain approval and fill up the emptiness of the soul and to feel worthwhile. d. False guilt makes a person restless because they are continually looking for a rule to be kept, a scruple to observe, an expectation to be fulfilled, or a way to be “worthwhile” in the eyes of others.

14 14 III. Self-Talk: The Source of False Guilt e. The idea of being worthwhile is a crucial point. This conscience reasons that when I am worthwhile, then I am a "good" person and life works pretty well. When I fear I've let someone down, then I feel worthless and rejected. f. Although counter-intuitive, an overactive conscience is also seeking to keep the "prize" of acceptance just out of reach. This "prize" includes self- acceptance and acceptance from others and often from God as well.

15 15 III. Self-Talk: The Source of False Guilt g. The guilt- ridden conscience continually says, "Your efforts are not good enough. You must keep trying because, even if your attempts don't measure up, the trying itself counts as something.“ h. For that reason, an overactive conscience is not happy at rest. Though rest is the birthright of the Christian, relaxing is just too dangerous, i.e., relaxing means I am not fulfilling my obligation in some area.

16 16 III. Self-Talk: The Source of False Guilt i. Acceptance is seen as conditional and I must continually prove my worthiness to others. These unrelenting efforts to meet the expectations of others can have some very negative consequences.

17 17 IV. The Consequence of False Guilt a. An overactive conscience can keep one in a state of constant uncertainty: You never know if you measure up; you never know if you have arrived or not. You are always on the alert, suspecting your own failure to measure up. b. The first consequence is"striving without arriving." In essence, there is no hope in the system set up by the overactive conscience. You must always try harder, but you never cross the finish line.

18 18 IV. The Consequence of False Guilt c. The second consequence is "constant failure." The overactive conscience produces constant self-monitoring which doubts its own performance. You are constantly asking if you are being worthwhile or acceptable to others. d. A third consequence is "burden-bearing." An overactive conscience attempts to pass an ongoing test consisting of accumulating enough evidences of goodness to escape the fear that you are worthless.

19 19 IV. The Consequence of False Guilt e. For the guilt-driven person, this test also involves taking on more duties, more responsibilities and more roles. This person becomes a beast of burden who takes on more responsibility than is healthy or necessary. f. False guilt also affects the body of Christ. Having failed to comprehend and live the freedom we have in Christ, Christians who struggle with an overactive conscience are often weak in their faith, compliant and legalistic.

20 20 IV. The Consequence of False Guilt g. Such believers are often long on conformity and legalism but short on substance. They want to put on the face of compliance to the way Christians are supposed to be but do so without experiencing the full reality of it. h. Even though one may intellectually know that Christ died for one’s sins; that our sins are forgiven; and that we have value and dignity because we are created in God's image, these persons still feel unworthy.

21 21 IV. The Consequence of False Guilt i.To reverse this, the key is to embrace Christ's atonement rather than one’s own debt payment plan. We must not only know that we are forgiven through Jesus Christ, but we must live Christ and the reality of His grace in us. j.This is accomplished through renewing our mind with the truth of God rather than being driven by the irrational fears of the old unregenerate man. This requires new thought patterns and control of one’s inner dialogue.

22 22 V. A Cure For False Guilt a. The wickedness of the natural man is such that in a perverted sense perfection is seen as the means of achieving salvation. “If I can be perfect, then I will no longer feel shame, and I will no longer feel guilt”. This amounts to personal atonement. b. Clearly, sinful man is incapable of making restitution before a holy, holy, holy God. Our atonement must be made by someone with clean hands and a sinless life. Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; KJV

23 23 V. A Cure For False Guilt c. If we are to break the chain of false guilt, we must embrace Christ's atonement rather than our own. Although that statement may seem obvious, it is difficult for someone with an overactive conscience to truly embrace this in reality. d. This acceptance is not mere intellectual assent, but a putting on of the spiritual reality. This is in part what it means to “work out your salvation”. Philippians 2:12-13 We are required to work out our salvation, katergazesthe. The word signifies working thoroughly at a thing, and taking true pains.

24 24 V. A Cure For False Guilt e. The second step is to truly apprehend the significance of Christ’s full and complete atonement. Heb 9:11-14 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? KJV

25 25 V. A Cure For False Guilt f. The real work is bringing about a transformation of the old man’s thought patterns and the self- oriented psychology that reigns over the overactive conscience. Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. KJV

26 26 V. A Cure For False Guilt g. Transforming the mind is an activity which requires constant vigilance to what one is thinking and why you are thinking those thoughts. And then, replacing unacceptable thoughts with the truth of God. 2 Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. h. The task before such persons is formidable but the result is true freedom from bondage and the exaltation of Christ.

27 27 V. Application a.The importance of living a life in harmony with the right dictates of the conscience is affirmed by the Apostle Paul when he tells us how he himself endeavors to keep a clear conscience before God and man. b.Can you discriminate between the voice of the Holy Spirit and your own internal voice in matters of conscience? c.How would you recognize the difference?

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