The Excessive, Exploited Conscience

Jeff grace, theology

Has God given you a heart sensitive to your sin?  Most people in our world have a moral barometer and know the difference between right and wrong.  They live out their days endeavoring to keep the scales heavier on their good than on their bad, yet this is not the same thing as a sin-sensitive conscience.  Are you aware that your sin is an affront to a Person which requires attention so that the quality of your relationship with Him suffers no prolonged loss?  As Landon is learning to read the Word, I sat and listened as he labored his way through Psalm 51 on Monday night.  King David pours out his heart to God in dramatic fashion, greatly distressed by the reality of his personal sin.  By the end of Psalm 51, however, David anticipates usefulness for the glory of God and is convinced of his clean standing before the God whom he had previously violated.  I wonder, do you have this bold confidence that, once your sin is acknowledged to God appropriately, you may walk in legitimate relief and gracious freedom?

Or do you continue to live in guilt? Do you do hidden penance and give credence to the voice which reminds you in short, staccato accusations of how truly bad you are? Do you continue to confess the same transgression over and over until you are certain He is convinced of your remorse?  Are you inclined to dread that the forgiveness you hear about in Scripture is not really the same forgiveness granted to you?

This is an unhealthy and common issue in many believers.  I call it the excessive, exploited conscience.  This activity results from a failure or refusal to believe that God is faithful to His promise to remember your sins no more.  We fear that we have not confessed it with enough emotion or that He looks upon us and finds our repentance hollow in some fashion.  Our turning from the sin was not dramatic enough, broken enough, quick enough or decisive enough.  So we confess it again just to make sure it’s covered.  We ask for repeated forgiveness because the first request may not have been convincing enough.  It is possible that we may even throw in a bold pledge to never transgress this way again if we can but secure His forgiveness this one time.  In essence, we have to exceed what He says in order to alleviate the sense of guilt that remains with us.  At moments like these, your conscience is not honoring God, it is denying and defying Him.   Dear friend, it is always and only the blood of Christ and the mercy of God that makes us clean and keeps us so.  Repeated requests for forgiveness over the same sinful act reveals that our trust is not perfectly directed where it should be.  I advise you to do what David did once he described his sin in confession to God.  He did not keep pleading with God, he boldly asked God to empower a sense of his good standing before Him when he prayed,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12 {ESV}

For David, once proper confession was made in repentance, it was no longer an issue of fear, it was an issue of holy hunger.  He requested to have back what he forfeited through his sin: am awareness of cleanness, an upright spirit, a sense of God’s nearness, inner joy and a stability in his walk with God.  Let these be our focus once we have agreed with God concerning our sin.  Let us not keep asking for forgiveness when we already possess it fully.  Let us not place confidence in the manner of our confession but in the God to whom we make confession.  Don’t cultivate an excessive conscience which goes beyond its legitimate purpose.  If you, as a child of God, live with constant guilt then there is a need for you to prioritize spiritual growth in the area of understanding God’s grace.  Make it a thing of importance.  Learn grace.  Believe grace.  Rest in grace.  Live in Grace…

…and let Guilt move it’s never-satisfied self somewhere else.