Full text of evangelist Billy Graham’s sermon titled “Conscience” which was delivered in Memphis, Tennessee in 1978.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Billy Graham – Evangelist
Now tonight, I want you to turn with me to Mark the Sixth Chapter — the Sixth Chapter of Mark, starting at verse 14, these words:
Mark 6:14: “And King Herod heard of Him, for His name was spread abroad…” Now this is… he was hearing of Jesus, all the things that Jesus was doing: making the blind to see, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and even raising the dead, and King Herod heard about it. And he said that John the Baptist was risen from the dead.
They said, ‘You’ve made a mistake, his name is not Jesus, it is John the Baptist.’ John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, I killed John the Baptist. When Salome danced in front of me I was so taken with her dancing that I promised her anything in my whole kingdom, and she asked for the head of John the Baptist to be brought on a platter. And I regretted it. I liked John the Baptist, even though I didn’t agree with some of the things he was saying, especially when he accused me of adultery. But I didn’t want to have to kill him, but I had made a promise in front of all my lords and ladies, and all the heads of state, that I would give this girl anything she wanted, and she asked for the head of John the Baptist so I had to send an executioner to go and bring his head. And I know he’s risen from the dead, that’s the only explanation for this man that’s going around the country now who’s become very famous. They call him Jesus, but actually he’s John the Baptist.
Why did Herod say that? He said it because his conscience was killing him. All he could think about, night and day, was that head, that bloody head of John the Baptist that he had had brought on a platter because a girl had performed a sensual dance for him and gotten his passions all aroused.
You know, there’s a Conscience Fund in almost every major post office in the United States. If you’ve cheated the government, and your conscience bothers you, you can send it to that Conscience Fund.
All over the world little children know that certain things are wrong, wherever you find them. Who told them?
[Airplane flying sound in background]
Now when the wind is coming from this direction, we get the planes because the airport is right over here and they come right down low over the stadium, and it’s marvelous sound effects for preaching.
But conscience is the moral judiciary of the soul, and conscience does not lay down a law, but warns of the existence of a law.
Think about that a moment. Conscience warns you that there is a moral law. That moral law is expressed verbally by God in the Ten Commandments. It is also expressed verbally by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. These are laws.
And conscience is put within you to tell you when you are breaking one. Conscience is in the heart of every one of us. There’s a little red light that goes on.
But there’s something in your own heart and your own soul that flashes red and says, ‘don’t do that, you’re wrong’, and most of us go against our conscience time after time, and in a moment I’ll show you how we pay for it.
Because the Bible speaks of several kinds of conscience. First, there’s the evil conscience. Hebrews 10:22, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
In another place, the Bible talks about the defiled conscience. Titus 1:15, “Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”
You can have an evil conscience and a defiled conscience. And here is the thing that shakes me about these Scriptures. The very thing that tells us when we are knowingly wrong itself becomes debauched, like a little bell that is supposed to ring and give us a clear note, becomes cracked so that its note will be false.
And it’s true when you reject the voice of conscience time after time after time after time, after a while the voice of conscience itself becomes defiled and becomes evil, and gives you the wrong signals, so that you too may crash as you approach the runway of a decision.
Because you see, your conscience will begin calling evil good; it’ll call good evil. It’ll put darkness for light and light for darkness, and it will say that bitter is sweet and that sweet is bitter. It becomes evil itself.
When you go against your conscience time after time, there comes a point, a dividing line, when your conscience is no longer reliable at all. In fact, it will lead you in the wrong direction.
And when you’ve reached that point, you have reached a very dangerous situation in your life.
Hebrews 10:2: “For then would they not have ceased to be offered because that the worshipers once purged have no more conscience of sins.”
In other words, there is a possibility that you can destroy your conscience. The bible talks about — the Apostle Paul writing to Timothy talks about people that have a conscience that have been seared with a hot iron, like a branding iron. Your conscience seared!
Your conscience has been driven away as a friend and a counselor, and comes back in the form of remorse, and comes back in so many different forms.
Conscience can even be used by evil spirits. You see, God put it in your heart to help you and to guide you through life. And your conscience has told you not to tell that lie, not to go to that place that you went the other night, and you did it anyway.
Told you not to disobey your parents, but you did. So you make your conscience harder and harder and harder. You see, the Holy Spirit uses the conscience to convict you of sin, and righteousness, and judgment. The Holy Spirit uses the conscience to draw you to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you say no! no! no! no! no! and after a while your heart gets harder and harder, and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder.
God stills loves you, God wants to forgive you. It’s still not too late for anyone here, but I do know people, very brilliant theologians, who think that there’s a line beyond which you can go in which you can no longer be saved.
You become a reprobate, with a reprobate mind, so hardened that you cannot come to Christ. I know that the Bible says that there is a sin unto death, and I also know that Jesus talked about a sin that could not be forgiven: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.