A GUILTY CONSCIENCE
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
Perhaps you heard about the man who wrote the following to the IRS:
My conscience has been bothering me. Enclosed is $175 which I owe in back taxes.
PS. If my conscience continues to bother me, I will send in the rest I owe.
Do you have a guilty conscience? Do you have something from your past that gnaws at you, condemns you and steals away your peace?
This week, I received a very sweet note from an 87-year-old man in Kansas who watches us on TV every Sunday. He shared a problem that he has believing that God could forgive him from some dark sins of his past. He was obviously very bothered about it. Can you relate to his situation?
WHAT TO DO FOR A GUILTY CONSCIENCE?
All of us have some shameful deeds from our past that we wish we could take back and undo...but the reality is that we cannot. Perhaps for you there is some terrible sexual sin from your past that continues to condemn you...or perhaps you had an abortion...or perhaps you stole something...or perhaps you cheated and lied and it cost you big time (e.g. track star Marion Jones)...or perhaps you neglected your children as they grew up...or perhaps you were extremely selfish and that selfishness led to a bitter divorce...or perhaps you had outbursts of anger that brought terrible destruction.
Whatever sin you might have plaguing your conscience, you can be free starting today! But, you must deal with sin God's way. You must take the following four steps:
1. ADMIT IT. Track star Marion Jones was guilty of steroid use and cover up. While I certainly do not approve of her past actions, I applaud her for getting honest about it. She faced the music and finally told the truth. How I admire her for that. Listen my friend, there can be no healing and no forgiveness until there is an honest admission of guilt...until you say with King David the adulterer, "I have sinned!"
2. CONFESS IT. Confess in the Greek literally means "to say the same thing." When I confess my sins, I say the same thing that God says concerning that act - it was wrong. Admission simply says, "I did it." Confession says, "I did it...and it was wrong...it was a terrible, horrible sin...and I am so sorry for my actions, God. Please forgive me."
3. FORSAKE IT. This means you cast it down. You turn from the sin. John the Baptist said, "Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance." If you and I really repent of our sin, we turn our back on it and go in God's direction. We break off the adulterous affair (emotional and physical)...we remove the impurity from our dating relationships...we break away from the friends that are dragging us down...we get rid of the movies, magazines, or media source that is rotting our brains...we turn from the lies that have been warping our perception of God, ourselves and our situation. We forsake the sin that has wounded His heart.
4. ACCEPT IT. God promises compassion and complete and total forgiveness for those who get honest and get right. 1 John 1:9 tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS and TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS." Whatever sin you have committed is included under "all unrighteousness." As the Lord told Peter, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Acts 10:15). Your sin, no matter how horrible it was, is no match for the blood of Jesus...so stop elevating your sin over God's Son and His death on the cross!
The biggest problem most of us have with a guilty, sin-stained conscience is not that we have yet to admit it, confess it and forsake it...it is that we have yet to accept God's forgiveness for it. Could that be true of you? Could it be that you have been failing to do step 4?
Do not fall into the trap of confessing the same sin to God 1000 times. That just tells God you do not believe Him when He says He forgives you for it. Go through the 4 steps ONE TIME...and thank Him 1000 TIMES for forgiving and cleansing you JUST LIKE HE PROMISED IN HIS WORD.
My friend, God does not want you to live another day haunted by the ghost of guilt. Deal with your sin His way and enjoy the freedom, grace and compassion of the Lord Jesus. You'll be so glad you did.
From His Heart Ministries can be seen on LightSource.com. This is another opportunity to reach people throughout the world with the love of Christ. Tell your friends and check us out.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.