Do you remember the first time you felt guilty for something? Maybe it happened when you were a child. Most of us can think back to a time where we were doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing and broke something that belonged to someone else. The feeling of guilt when you realize that you broke your mom’s favorite lamp or you sibling’s favorite toy seems overwhelming to a child. Most of us, through the guilt began hatching a plan to cover up our wrongdoing. What motivated the coverup? Shame.
As we grow up, the things we do that make us feel guilty become more serious than a replaceable lamp or a toy. However, our natural responses remain the same. Once we experience the guilt associated with doing something wrong, our natural inclination is often to lie to cover up what we did and manipulate the situation to make ourselves look better. Those lies and manipulation create more guilt and shame while also producing the need for more lies and manipulation. It generally turns into a vicious cycle that can leave you feeling empty, guilty, paranoid, and experiencing any number of other harmful emotions.
God wants us to live with a clear conscience, free of shame and condemnation. His plan for us includes a life that is more focused on His forgiveness than our own failures. When you embrace the freedom associated of living a guilt-free life, you can truly embrace God’s plan for your life.
Acts 24:16 (TPT)
That’s why I seek with all my heart to have a clean conscience toward God and toward others.
Paul spoke these words when he was on trial before Felix, the governor of Caesarea. Paul, once again on trial for his missionary work, presented his case before Felix. Instead of denying that he had been starting churches, worshiping with other believers and spreading the Good News, Paul declared that he was a worshiper of Jesus Christ. Paul’s only real defense is found in Acts 24:16 when he declared that he tried his hardest to live with a clear conscience toward God and toward other people.
The fact that Paul sought that goal with all of his heart means that living with a clean conscience does require some work. If Paul, a man who started numerous churches and wrote the majority of the New Testament had to work to achieve a clear conscience, we can assume that it will also require some work on our part. Let’s take a look at how we can seek with all of our heart to have a clean conscience toward God and others.
Being Led by Scripture
Psalm 119:11 (TPT)
I consider your prophecies to be my greatest treasure, and I memorize them and write them on my heart to keep me from committing sin’s treason against you.
Scripture provides God’s instruction for how we are supposed to handle our relationships with others and our relationship with Him. Contained within the 66 books that comprise your Bible, you will find countless examples of people who got it right and people who got it wrong. Why would God include so many stories about people who messed up? Because He knew that we would get it wrong as well.
You don’t have to look farther than the first book of the Bible to find examples of people who botched their end of their relationship with God and with other people. In Genesis 4, we read about Cain and Abel, the first two children of Adam and Eve. Abel offered God a sacrifice that consisted of the best that he had while Cain kept the good portion of his harvest and offered God the scraps. In his jealousy, he wound up murdering his brother and committed history’s first crime.
When you embrace the truth of Scripture and seek to apply it to your own life, you can live with a clear conscience. David said that He treasures God’s Word, memorizes God Word and “writes it on his heart,” which means that He allowed God’s Word to transform his way of thinking and behaving? Why? Because David wanted to live with a clear conscience.
Embrace the Blood of Christ
Hebrews 9:14 (TPT)
Yet how much more will the sacred blood of the Messiah thoroughly cleanse our consciences! For by the power of the eternal Spirit he has offered himself to God as the perfect Sacrifice that now frees us from our dead works to worship and serve the living God.
The nameless author of Hebrews tackles the concept of living with a clear conscience as well. He or she pointed out in this verse that the only way for us to truly embrace total forgiveness and guilt-free living is to embrace the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The only way that we (fallible people) could be reconciled into a relationship with Him (an infallible God) was through the blood of Jesus Christ. Even in the Old Testament, blood was required to erase the sins of the people (Leviticus 17:11). When Christ came to earth, His blood served as the ultimate sacrifice necessary to allow us to enter into a relationship with God (Hebrews 9:22).
Does this mean that we won’t still have moments where we fall flat on our faces? Absolutely not! However, the blood of Christ gives us the ability to ask God to forgive us. When we seek His forgiveness, He freely grants it and even silences the accuser (Satan) when he tries to point out our shortcomings.
Revelation 12:11 (TPT)
They conquered him [Satan, the accuser] through the blood of the Lamb and the powerful word of his testimony.
When Satan scurries to God to point out the mistakes that you’ve made, he is silenced by the presence of Christ’s sinless, perfect blood. When you embrace Christ’s sacrifice, it causes you to accept the fact that you’ve made mistakes, but you can rest in the fact that God offers forgiveness to all of those who would ask for it (1 John 1:9).
Follow the Rules
Jesus answered him, “ ‘ Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’
Sinning against God and against others always goes back to one thing: preferring your own feelings over the feelings of God and other people. Ultimately, God wants to be the most important thing in your life. His goal is for us to seek Him first and then let everything else fall in place behind that (Matthew 6:33). That’s not because God needs His ego inflated by being the most important thing in your life, but it is because God knows if we seek Him first, all of our other relationships will function the right way.
Similarly, Jesus also says that we should love and care for others in the same way that we love and care for ourselves. Obviously, you want the best for yourself. You work hard to put yourself in a position to enjoy life. Jesus said that we should be just as passionate about the joy and happiness of other people.
When we love God and love others the way that Jesus said to, we can live with a clear conscience. Why? Because we will have our priorities in the correct order. When your relationship with Christ is the most important relationship in your life, you will be less likely to sin against Him and experience the guilt associated with letting Him down. Additionally, when you love others as you love yourself, you will be less likely to hurt them and experience the shame that hurting them brings.
Living with a clear conscience is a beautiful existence. It allows us to embrace overflowing joy, supernatural peace and the presence of Christ in everything that we do.
A Closing Prayer:
God, help me to focus more on living a life that is pleasing to You. Help me hide Your Word in my heart like David. Also, show me ways that I can love those around me like I love myself. In Christ’s name, Amen!