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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Clear Conscience

{Foreword: any ideas, words, points etc enclosed in double square brackets ( [[ ]] ) Sarah Mally has allowed me to post directly from her matterial. All credit to her for them, and much thanks!}

 Ever felt guilty? Have you known the feeling that comes when you confess something? It's great to be relieved of a guilty conscience, isn't it! And... it's actually disobeying the prompting of the Spirit when you don't confess something that He wants you to.

 It's very important to have a clear conscience before God. For one thing, it's not nice having God prodding you! For another, if we have wronged someone, we need to make amends and ask forgiveness. And if we have sinned, often we simply need to let our parents (or others) know of the wrong we did. I'm going to tell you about some times that I've had to clear my conscience in different circumstances.

Example 1: Clearing my conscience because I wronged (or possibly wronged) someone.
 I had to do this recently. But it happened 6 months ago. I had flirted with a guy. (See, I told you I'm not perfect!) And recently, God had been bothering me about it. So, I came to the realisation that I had to repent and apologise. First, I told Mum and Dad, so they would know what I was doing, and also just to let them know what was going on/had gone on in my life. Second, I wrote the guy a letter apologising.
 Now, this guy may not have remembered what I did. It may not have hurt or distracted him at all. But I can't know that. I had to obey God. And that's what I find: clearing you conscience is often more of an 'obedience to God' step, than a 'I definitely hurt someone and I have to apologise' step.

Example 2: Clearing my conscience because of something I said when the person was not around.
 I was waiting outside of ballet with another girl and her dad. The dad saw our car come down the road, and said something like, "Someone's flying to get you!" And I said, "That would be my Dad. He always drives fast." And that night, what I said bothered me. Even though Dad wasn't around when I said it, I knew I should apologise because I had said something critical/mean about him. So I did.

Example 3: Clearing my conscience about something 'trivial.'
 I think God often convicts us of something to test whether or not we will obey Him. That was certainly the case in this example.
 A {tall} girl at my youth group was saying to one of the guys that she was nearly taller than him (he was slouching). I took that further (wondering how much hight actually did separate them) and told the guy to stand up straight. When I saw that there actually was not much difference in their hight, I did what I can only really describe as a snicker. I really don't know why I did, but I did. And guess what? It started to prick my conscience. I knew that it would never have hurt the guy, but God was telling me to apologise. And I knew I should do it face-to-face. This was probably my scariest confession ever. I was so nervous I was shaking. But I knew I had to do it. And God gave me the opportunity and enough courage not to faint.  :D But afterwards? I felt exhilarated, despite still shaking.

Example 4: Clearing my conscience because of something I did.
 This time, I had read something in a book of Dad's I had picked up that was not at all good. And even though I'm not sure why these type of sins need to be confessed, God simply lets you know that they do. So I told Dad. And that was a load off my conscience.

 Now, let me make this clear: asking for forgiveness and confessing are very hard things to do! But if God wants you to, He'll let you know via the prompting of the Spirit in your 'conscience.' I'd also like to point out that not every single sin needs to be confessed to anyone other than God. But if He tells you that it's necessary, obey. And, there's some added bonuses!

  1. The person you confess too and ask forgiveness from will respect you more (most likely). 
  2. You feel stacks better! 
  3. You gain practice in obeying God in the little things. 
  4. [[You will start a new, fresh and clean page in this relationship.]]
  5. [[You will get great practice in humility!]]
  6. [[You will have more strength to overcome future temptations. (Next time you are tempted to commit the same sin, you will remember how hard it is to ask forgiveness!)]]
  7. [[You will be free from hypocrisy.]]
  8. [[You will have good testimony to others.]]

 By the way, what does the Bible say about all this? Well, it states at least twice that David was conscience-stricken. (And that he repented.) Paul also says in Acts 24:16, "So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." And as for confession and repentance, there is a whole lot! Psalm 32:5 says, "Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord' - and You forgave the guilt of my sin." The Bible is also filled with the promises of good that will come to those who repent - and the bad that happens to those that don't. Check out Proverbs 28:13: "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." God also promises that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). And it also has stacks to say about humility!

 Now, here's some tips on how to clear your conscience:
  1. Confess to God. Ask His forgiveness before anyone else's.
  2. Make a conscious decision to do it ASAP. Don't put it off. Don't ignore it. You may not be able to do it immediately, but make a choice to do it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And not only that - determine when you will exactly. (In some circumstances, you may just be waiting for the right opportunity... but make sure you seize it!)
  3. Decide whether to apologise face-to-face, over the phone, in an email or in a letter. Most times, face-to-face is best. But in some circumstances better to do it another way. For instance, in example 1 I decided to do it in a letter. This was because 1) I didn't know when I'd see the guy, and I didn't want to let it wait. 2) Over the phone honestly would be too awkward, because the guy would have to respond immediately, which I didn't want him to feel pressured to do. 3) I didn't realise I had his email address until I had written a letter. Besides, an email always seems slightly more trivial.
     You may need to talk to your parents about which one is best, and it's often best to let them know what you're doing if you can't do it face-to-face. You may also want them to double-check any letter or email you send.
  4. Pray. Ask God to give you humility and courage!
  5. DON'T sift blame, shirk your responsibility or make out that you only may have been wrong if your actually were. Humility is accepting your part and yours alone. For example, in my letter to they guy I flirted with, I could have said, "I don't think I hurt you, but I'm sorry if I did." Now, that's true: I wasn't sure I'd hurt him, and if I had, I was sorry. But that's still not accepting and confessing my full sin. Instead I phrased it, "I flirted with you, and I'm sorry." Notice a difference?
  6. [[Show humility and sincerity when asking for forgiveness. When you ask for forgiveness  your words must show true repentance. Plane your words in advance.]]
  Maybe, reading this, God has laid on your conscience something that He wants you to repent of. At any rate, it's bound to happen in the future! My advice: obey His prompting, no matter the pain or difficultness.

Your sister in Christ,
Cassie xoxoxo

1 comment:

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