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Freedom from a Guilty Conscience

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:14

God has blessed us with an onboard monitoring system to keep our behavior in check. It’s called a conscience. When we step outside the boundaries of good conduct a guilt alarm sounds. The inner voice of a guilty conscience chides us for our inappropriate thoughts or deeds.

Our boundaries of conscience are based on a moral code of values impressed upon us by parents, teachers, religious leaders, laws of the land, and culture.

Even animals have a conscience, or so it seems. Recently, I volunteered to dog-sit for my oldest son while his family was on vacation. Occasionally, I had to reprimand the German shepherd, Roxie, for barking at the cat. After ordering her to “lay down” she would recline on her bed and stare at me with sad eyes. Moments later she would trot across the room and sit at my feet with her head down. In dog talk that meant “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

I’m all too familiar with that nagging feeling from a guilty conscience. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a tinge of “I shouldn’t have done that.” But when it becomes a long-lasting problem, it’s like a pain that won’t go away.

A guilty conscience is often the result of rash behavior in response to frustration or provocation. A recent news story reported about a Florida man who became agitated by a neighbor’s loud outdoor party. The occasion was the birthday of a 2-year-old and involved a bunch of small children. What really ticked the guy off was the loud music from a DJ. He decided to put an end to the annoyance by unplugging the sound system, but unwittingly shut off the power to a Moonwalk where children were playing. The blow-up fun palace deflated trapping the little ones inside. One child sustained a minor injury, and the others were traumatized.

Anger led to a dumb decision, chaos, and an unfortunate rift between neighbors. Hopefully, the man experienced a guilty conscience for his foolish act. And if he responded rightly to it, he learned a lesson, sought forgiveness, and vowed to never repeat such unacceptable behavior.

Have you ever lost your cool and said or done something you deeply regretted? If you haven’t, you’re an exception to the rule. Bad behavior, regardless of what triggered it, results in a guilty conscience.

Misconduct of any kind should produce guilt in the heart of the believer. It’s a reminder from God we need to get our act together.

The mamas of those children trapped in the Moonwalk were likely reluctant to forgive the neighbor who spoiled the party. Thankfully, God doesn’t respond to our sinful behavior that way. When we experience remorse and confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive.

Even more, as we see in our focus text, the Lord cleanses our consciences. I’m reminded of what Jesus said to the woman who was caught in sin. “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

The short-term remedy for a guilty conscience is to confess your sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. If there’s someone you’ve wronged, approach them with a contrite spirit and request to be forgiven. The long-term remedy for a guilty conscience is, as the old saying goes, “Keep your nose clean.” In other words, “Behave yourself.”

Jesus’ blood cleanses our sins AND our guilt. But the conscience remains for our benefit. Let the Bible and the Spirit be your guide and your conscience your onboard warning system.

Remember, Jesus forgives all your sins. Follow His lead and forgive yourself. And if guilt remains make it a matter of prayer. Receive God’s cleansing completely for your sin and a guilty conscience.

For more on this topic, check out this article: No Longer Condemned and Off Death Row

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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