Summary: The conscience is that element in our makeup through which God’s Holy Spirit works to let us know we’re on track or off track. Living with a clear conscience is God’s desire and plan for us and is the key to a happy existence and successful Christian walk
“My conscience is bothering me.” I’ve said it and heard others say it, but what exactly does it mean? I believe God has created within us…programmed us…a sense of right and wrong. When we’re doing right, our conscience makes us feel good, but when we’re involved in actions contrary to God’s will, our conscience bothers us. So the conscience is that element in our makeup through which God’s Holy Spirit works to let us know we’re on track or off track. Living with a clear conscience is God’s desire and plan for us and is the key to a happy existence and successful Christian walk. But how does it happen?
We Must Be Fessed Up
He couldn’t believe it, but they were staring him in the face…A’s. He’d never seen anything like it.
As his father’s car crawled into the driveway, he could hardly contain himself. With a smile the size of Texas, he proudly shoved it into his father’s hand. Dad bragged to everyone about his son and even rewarded him with a brand new bicycle.
But the young boy wouldn’t ride his bike. Guilt over the farce he was living kept him grounded. His teacher had mistakenly recorded all A’s on his report card, but he hadn’t told his dad. He was embarrassed and assumed his father would be ashamed of him. Running away was his only conceivable outlet. When his dad finally caught him, the confession was mutual…Dad for making him feel he must be perfect to be loved and son for not acknowledging the mistake.
Confession is necessary for clear consciences as Paul notes and the psalmist affirms. Timothy, I thank God for you. He is the God I serve with a clear conscience (II Timothy 1:3 NLT). If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18 NLT).
Confession of sin is good for the soul but yields different results for believers and unbelievers. Failure to ever repent is unpardonable and leads to eternal separation from God. Daily confession follows repentance and is a lifelong exercise since repentance doesn’t perfect us. Living in a sinful world soils us with known and unknown sins. Confession eliminates the dirt these produce and restores an open line of communication with God. It’s an expression of our desire to live as God desires and a recognition that sin affronts the holy God we serve. As the little boy and his dad’s relationship was affected by the lie he was living, so sin hinders the spiritual progress God desires we make.
“No! I don’t want to forgive ______!” he seethed. Sure, he believed in forgiving, but not this person…never.
*Craig Groeschel was bitter after learning a family friend had molested his sister. He had been his sister’s sixth-grade teacher, but behind the façade was a sick man who abused numerous girls. Groeschel wanted him to die and burn in hell. But the preacher’s message and God’s Word convicted him otherwise.
Groeschel began the road to forgiveness by praying for the offender. Eventually, he asked God to help him forgive. By the time he wrote a letter expressing his forgiveness, the man was dying and under hospice care. Months later, a nurse contacted Groeschel and told of how she read the letter to the dying man and listened as he asked God’s forgiveness.
Forgiveness isn’t easy-and I’ve struggled with it more than once, but it’s necessary for a clear conscience. He is the God I serve with a clear conscience (II Timothy 1:3 NLT). And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us (Matthew 6:12 NLT).
Unforgiveness breeds bitterness and anger and can birth emotional and physical illness. It also divides our mind. God is perched on one shoulder shouting “Forgive” while Satan is crouched on the opposite roaring, “Hate.”
Forgiveness is releasing someone from a debt they owe us for an offense they’ve committed. It should be immediate and continuous. Some offenses slice so deep, we have to forgive more than once. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean we have to re-establish ties with the offender, but we let go of the anger, bitterness, and hate. More importantly, forgiving heals our relationship with God. Unforgiveness creates static that prevents us from hearing God clearly and him from using us fully.
*(Groeschel, Craig. The Christian Atheist, 113-121.)
Put First Things First
Perhaps she wasn’t my first case of puppy love, but she’s the first I remember fawning over and daydreaming about.
Dad was preaching at a small town church in Low Country South Carolina. I was approaching my teen years…not particularly looking for love but not running from it either. As normal, he stayed just long enough for me to make a few friends...Cathy among them. I didn’t pay her much attention while living there, but once we moved…Ouch…the love bug nibbled. Before long, I was writing her endearing letters and driving twenty-five miles to court her. Our romance didn’t last long, but at the time she had my attention and my heart.