What an amazing way to kick off the New Year! I am truly awestruck at the healing power of Christ, the grace of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit through this new series DIG. Today I want to address two unique motivators in life, conscience and guilt. Put the two together and many times we are crippled by a guilty conscience. Guilt steals our joy and keeps us from the living the life God intended for us. The dictionary defines the word “guilt” as a “feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.” Guilt is that part of the human conscience that brings us up short and condemns us for actions and thoughts. It can be counter productive and affect the way we think and act toward ourselves and others. Many times guilt cripples us or pushes us over the edge and we do things we would never dream of doing. Guilt can bring about hopelessness. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who is not a condemner rather He is a convicter who points us to the work Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross to put us in right standing with God and remove our guilt and shame.
Conscience is one of the three ways God reveals Himself to the world through general revelation. Our conscience is an inherent human trait that should be seen as a gift, however, most of us do not see it as such and rather than deal with guilt, we naturally attempt to squelch it. However, our conscience is that nagging inner voice with in us all that is like water upon a stone and is meant to bring us to a realization that there is a standard and we have fallen short, but whose standard is it? The answer God’s. God is Just and Justifier. He has the right to hold us to a standard because He is the standard. He recognizes that we all fall short [Rom. 3:23] so He sent His Son [John 3:16] to forgive us of our sins [1 John 1:9] and remove our guilt [Heb. 10:22]. Conviction is a healthy and needed part of our lives because it calls us to action. It calls us to move closer to God. Guilt calls us to run from God or hide from God it exiles us to a life of isolation and insulation far from God. However, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit guilt can be an important tool in helping us recognize that we are not self-autonomous and have desperate need for God’s grace and forgiveness.
Seeing guilt in its proper light allows us to understand that it is a safety valve for the human condition. Guilt means there is a right and wrong way for us to operate and there are standards of what is good and what is worthy of guilt. Our human conscience is a part of the General revelation that there is a God. We are born with a conscience it is by divine design. Guilt doesn’t have to be bad because it can bring us to a point where we recognize that we need forgiveness. Guilt becomes crippling when after we have been forgiven by God we do not forgive ourselves and continue to allow guilt to keep us from moving forward. My hope is that we can all live our lives with a clean conscience free from guilt and condemnation and alive to feel the natural conviction of the Holy Spirit as we are lead by God through this life.
Hebrews 10:19-25 [NIV] 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.