November 6th, 2015 Posted in sermons | No Comments »
Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, was a bit of a practical joker. One day he decided to pull a prank on his friends, so he wrote an anonymous note to 12 of his closest friends that read, “FLEE AT ONCE. ALL IS DISCOVERED.”
Within 24 yours, all 12 of Doyle’s friends had left the country.
That is what I call having a guilty conscience.
H.L. Mencken defined conscience as “the inner voice that warns us that someone may be looking.”
Another person has said, “Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.”
A conscience is something God has placed in every man and every woman. We all are born with a conscience. It is that sense of right and wrong, a smoke alarm, if you will, that goes off when there is trouble.
The Bible talks about a man whose conscience was dead. His is effectively the story of the life and death of a conscience. This man had no excuse. He had the greatest prophet in all of the Bible, John the Baptist, as his personal counselor, friend and confidant.
This man was known as King Herod.
There are a lot of Herods mentioned in the New Testament. All are from the same twisted dynasty, but they are not all the same person. The first of the lot was Herod the Great, who was in charge when the wise men came from the east, looking for the one who was born the King of the Jews. He wasn’t called Herod the Great because of his acts of benevolence or because he was a wonderful ruler. Rather, he was known for the amazing edifices he had erected. He rebuilt the Jewish temple, which was many years in the making.
Herod the Great also was known for his paranoia, for his wickedness and for having members of his own family executed because he thought they would be a threat to his throne. That King Herod was a wicked man.
His son, Herod Antipas, also was wicked. Historians tell us that Herod Antipas was cruel, scheming, indecisive and utterly immoral. He also had a conscience that was in the process of dying. Herod Antipas was without excuse because, as I mentioned, he had as his personal counselor none other than John the Baptist.
When John showed up and started preaching, Israel had not heard from God for 400 years. There hadn’t been a single miracle, an angelic appearance, or one prophet speaking for God. Instead, there was an icy silence from heaven. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, John the Baptist emerged, right on God’s timetable. He was powerful. He was fearless. And wherever he went, crowds gathered.
John was the greatest prophet who ever lived. He was the last of a long line of spokesmen for God. Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28 NKJV). John was greater because he, and he alone, was the direct forerunner of Jesus – the forerunner of the Messiah. He occupied a unique place in history.
John was everything Herod was not.
While Herod was unsure, proud and worried about the opinions of others, John was sure, humble and concerned only with the opinion of God. John was a man of immense moral courage, while Herod was a man of spineless weakness. John was a man who kept his conscience and lost his head, while Herod was a man who took John’s head but lost his conscience.
The Bible tells us that “Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20 NIV). On the other hand, Herod’s wife, Herodias, hated John. Herodias had been Philip’s wife. While she was still married to Philip, Herod’s brother, Herod seduced her and took her as his own wife.
But it gets worse. Herodias also was the daughter of Herod’s half-brother, making her Herod’s niece. And if that weren’t enough, he lusted after Herodias’ daughter Salome, and Herodias was fully aware of it.
John called Herod out on this. He simply told the truth. John was honest with Herod, and I think, in reality, John was Herod’s truest friend because he told Herod the truth.
A true friend will occasionally wound – not to hurt but to help. If you have a friend who tells you the truth, don’t lose that friend.
John told Herod the truth, and it ultimately cost John his head. At the opportune time, Herodias got her daughter Salome to dance in front of Herod at his birthday celebration, and he promised to give her whatever she wanted. Prompted by her mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist. So Herod gave the command.
Why did Herod do such a horrible thing? Two things prompted him: sexual lust and a desire to impress and please others. And unbeknownst to him, his conscience was dying.
When Herod started hearing reports about Jesus and his miracles, Herod said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” (Mark 6:16) He thought John had come back to haunt him.
Sometimes we think we can commit a “little” sin and just move on in life. We don’t realize that sometimes the repercussions of sin don’t hit us until later. But, as the Bible says, “Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
What shape is your conscience in? Is it tender and responsive? Or, is it dull and unresponsive? The Bible warns of those who have their consciences seared “with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV).
The death of a conscience starts with small things that invariably become larger things. When you do something you know is wrong, continue on and try to cover it up, your conscience becomes hardened, callous and resistant.
So what should you do? Go to Jesus. He can forgive sin and resensitize your conscience.
Taken from my weekly column at Worldnetdaily.