Hardening Effect

Hardening Effect

Habitual sin has a hardening effect on your soul and a seering effect on your conscience. No question. When I read the following verses from the account in Genesis where Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, this truth is especially highlighted:

Genesis 37:24-25 – and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

They threw Joseph in the pit and then sat down to … eat a meal?

What? …

That’s right. The hardening effect of sin had already begun to fasten its grip on the brothers. And Scripture says that throwing Joseph in the pit was only a temporary step in their murder plot against him. You see, selling him into slavery was not their first option. Murdering him was the first option. Perhaps they intended to leave him in the cistern. Or perhaps they were going to pull him out and end his life quickly. We don’t know. But with only moments to go before the murder was to take place, they sat down to eat a sandwich. To grab a bite to eat. To relax a little before the rest of the plot unfolded.

The obvious question becomes, how had they come this far? What brought them to such a low level of depravity that they would even consider murdering their own flesh and blood?

Perhaps it began when Simeon and Levi, in an attempt to avenge their sister’s rape, entered into the Hivite village under false pretense and mass murdered all of the males who had been duped into circumcising themselves three days earlier. (Gen. 34) Still in pain, the villagers couldn’t defend themselves. Makes for a great movie plot. It almost makes me want to stand up and cheer for these guys as they defended their sister’s honor. And something tells me that if Hollywood got a hold of the story, that’s exactly the angle they would take.

And yet, Scripture makes it clear that this was not the will of the Lord. They were rebuked harshly and repeatedly by their own father (Gen. 34:30-31; 49:5-7). Why? Because they acted on their own accord–taking vengence in their own hands.

Maybe it began there and then snowballed out-of-control until their consciences were totally seered and corrupted. Then it makes sense why they could sit down to eat a meal hundreds of feet above their brother who sat in the pitch dark of the earth.

The bottom line? Don’t underestimate the stronghold of unconfessed sin in your life. It can snowball much more rapidly than you ever imagined. As the saying goes,

“Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, cost you more than you wanted to pay, and keep you longer than you wanted to stay.”