Maintaining a Clean Conscience

The Bible tells us that God forgives us of our sins because of the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28).  Acts 10:43 declares that when we first believed into Jesus we received the forgiveness of our sins.  When we believed, the blood of Jesus was applied and our sins were forgiven.  However, in our daily life when we sin our conscience registers an offense.  Sometimes we are not sensitive to our conscience so we do not realize that we have sinned.  Later, while spending time in God’s presence or during fellowship with other believers we can become aware of the offense.  The Bible tells us to confess those sins.  In the Bible the word “confess” means to say the same thing as another person.  So, to confess our sins means to say the same thing that our conscience is saying about our sins: we did something wrong.  The act of confessing applies the blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from every sin (1 John 1:7-9).

Unfortunately, some Christians almost never confess their sins.  The hindrance between them and God continues to grow.  This causes their personal relationship with God to suffer.  As a result their consciences become numb toward the sins they are committing.  The light received from the Lord grows dim.  The joy in Jesus fades away.  Eventually their love toward God and man becomes cold.

With such as powerful and easy way to regain an unhindered fellowship with God and restore relationships with other people, why is it, besides sinful pride and self-righteousness, that we hold back from confessing our sins?  Sometimes, it is out of a misplaced religious humility:

If you shrink from going directly to Christ and His blood; if you try to slip gradually near in some roundabout way, as if you hoped, by the time you reach the fountain, to get quit of part of the sin so as not to be quite so bad as at the moment when you committed it, you will not cleanse the conscience, but leave the burden and the stain just where they were.  If you say, ‘But I am so ruffled with the sin, so cast down and ashamed at the thought of what I have done, that I dare not go at once to the blood; I must pray or read myself into a better frame, and then I will go and be washed’; you are denying God’s method of purging the conscience; you are undervaluing the blood; you are reverting to your old ways of self-righteousness; and you are preventing the restoration of lost peace; for you are putting something between your conscience and the blood.  (Horatius Bonar, Follow the Lamb)

Unfortunately, some Christians go overboard and hunt for sin in their lives. Yes, there is plenty of it, but we are not told to go hunting for it under every rock and in every nook and cranny of our lives.  Rather, we are told to confess that which is brought to our attention, whether it be from the Lord or through those in the church or the world around us.  Bonar has some more words of wisdom in this regard:

Cultivate a tender conscience; but beware of a diseased and morbid one.  The former takes an honest, straightforward view of truth or duty, and acts accordingly.  The latter, overlooking what is broad and great, is always on the hunt for trifles, quibbling and questioning about things of no importance.  Thus a stiff Christianity is produced, an artificial religion, very unlike the erect but easy walk of one who possesses the liberty of Christ…Certainly beware of little sins; but be sure that they are sins.  Omit no little duties; but see that they are duties.  A tender and tranquil conscience does not make a man crotchety or troublesome, for less morose and supercilious; it makes him frank, cheerful, brotherly, and obliging, in the family, in the shop, in the congregation, in the marketplace, whether he be poor or rich; so that others cannot help seeing how pleasantly he goes out and comes in, “eating his meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46), and so “adorning the doctrine of God his Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10).


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