Guilt: Our consciences remind us what is true and encourage us to choose it. No matter how much we follow our consciences, however, all of us have a nagging sense of guilt. Even Sir Kingsley Amis, who once replied, “It’s more that I hate Him,” when he was asked whether he was an atheist, acknowledged his own sense of guilt: “One of the great benefits of organized religion is that you can be forgiven your sins, which must be a wonderful thing. I mean, I carry my sins around with me; there’s nobody there to forgive them” .
Heart: The Pharisees tried washing away their guilty consciences by strictly observing the clean laws. In their obsession with obedience, however, they had forgotten the purpose of the laws – namely, to show that sin does the same thing to the soul that dirt does to the body. Jesus explained that their problem was much deeper than they thought: “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him … From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” . Yet how could they wash their hearts?
Forgiveness: The blood of Christ cleanses the hearts of sinners. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he told them that they were guilty of the sins that Jesus said defiled a person, e.g., immorality, theft, murder. Yet he said, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” . How does this good news shape our daily lives? We pursue obedience and, when we inevitably falter, we confess our sins in the name of Jesus our Advocate. Then we praise God that He has given us a sense of godly regret that awakens our heart to recognize His amazing mercy.
Prayer: Lord, We draw near to you through Christ, “in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from evil consciences” . Yet we confess that, although we are forgiven, we still sin. Yet we praise you that, in Christ, you are forgiving. Therefore, we listen to our consciences and, instead of hiding in shame, we run to your grace and give you glory. Amen.