In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul warned the brethren not to become like other Gentiles. In the description, he gave of the others, he wrote in verse 19, “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” When we read the phrase, “past feeling,” the English word “desensitized” is one of the first that comes to mind. That is precisely what the Greek word apalgeo, used here, means.
When sin is common, some tend to be so past feeling they think nothing about it when it comes before them. Someone uses profanity, they don’t hear it; someone takes God’s name in vain, they think nothing of it. A television commercial depicting an actor wearing nothing but his under clothes, or holding a beer in his hand, has no impact upon them at all. Some brethren are that way regarding error in the Lord’s church. They see unauthorized practices in worship, but they are like the priest and the Levite when they came upon the man who fell among thieves. They cross to the other side of the road, indifferent to the injury to Christ and His body. They have become past feeling; they are desensitized.
Being aloof to sin carries with it an almost impossible consequence to avoid. When the Gentiles Paul described became past feeling, they gave themselves over to work all uncleanness. Being desensitized to sin is only a step away from engaging in it. If one doesn’t care at all if someone else is practicing sin, what is there to stop that person from committing that sin himself? The answer is, nothing. Since he has become desensitized to the guilt others bear for the sins, why would he bear any guilt if he does that sin himself? He wouldn’t. The situation is exactly as Paul described to Timothy that it would be. “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;” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).
Let us heed another warning so far as desensitization is concerned. Be aware if one close to you becomes desensitized to sin. Sometimes, we may see a person who is not engaging in sin himself, but if we pay close attention it becomes apparent that he has become indifferent to sin. That person may be in jeopardy of giving in to sin himself. The first indication that is happening is the person becomes desensitized toward God. Be on guard for it in yourself and in others—the awful condition of being past feeling!