“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Proverbs 28:13
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.
P.S. 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?
Some time ago, I received a very sweet note from an 87-year-old man in Kansas who watches us on TV every Sunday. He shared his biggest problem: 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. The reality is we can’t unscramble eggs—we can’t undo what has been done. Perhaps for you there is some terrible sexual sin from your past that continues to condemn you. Perhaps you had an abortion. Perhaps you stole something. Perhaps you cheated and lied and it cost you big time. Perhaps you neglected your children as they grew up and now they greatly resent you. Perhaps you were extremely selfish, and that selfishness led to a bitter divorce. Perhaps you did something shameful at work, and it cost you your job.
Whatever sin you might have plaguing your conscience, you can be free starting today! But you must deal with that sin God’s way. You must take the following four steps:
1. ADMIT IT. In 2007, world champion track star Marion Jones pled guilty to the charges 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 courageously faced the music and told the truth before God and America. Listen my friend, there can be no healing and no forgiveness until there is an honest admission of the wrongdoing—until you say with guilty King David, “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 the act in question—it was evil and sinful. Admission simply says, “I did it.” Confession says, “I did it, and it was a terrible, horrible sin. 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 material that is rotting our brains, and we turn from the lies that have been warping our view of God and reality. 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. Stop elevating your sin over God’s Son and His death on the cross!
The biggest problem many Christians 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 four and accept it?
Don’t fall into the trap of confessing the same sin to God one thousand times over and over again. That action tells God you do not believe Him when He says He forgives you for it. Go through the four steps ONE TIME… and thank Him ONE THOUSAND 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.
Pastor Jeff Schreve