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How to Respond to an Uneasy Conscience

1 John 1:7 says, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

I think we all have an intuitive understand that we need this kind of cleansing. I think we all sense—to one degree or another—our guilt and defilement before God. This is because the Bible teaches us that God has given us a conscience that reminds us of our sin. It’s kind of like a warning light on a car that keeps blinking and telling us that something’s wrong here. Everything’s not okay.

And there are a number of ways people respond to their conscience. One common way is to simply ignore the uneasiness they feel. They distract themselves with a wide array of different activities and keep telling themselves that everything’s okay, and over time they just learn to plug their ears to the voice of their conscience.

Another way people respond to their uneasy conscience is by trying to appease it. They try to do enough good things in life so that the good outweighs the bad. They try to help people and volunteer for charities. Or maybe they become highly religious and dutifully engage in different religious rituals. All of these things represent their attempt to appease an uneasy conscience.

Or maybe they try to deal with their conscience in other ways such as attending endless counseling sessions, taking prescription drugs, or even abusing drugs and other substances.

And yet, none of these things are ultimately sufficient. The reality is that regardless of how many people you help or how many religious rituals you engage in or how many pills you pop, none of that takes care of the root issue. Try as we might, we’re not able to cleanse ourselves.

It’s kind of like a stain that, no matter how many times you treat it and wash it, just won’t come out. That’s what it’s like with our sinfulness. And our conscience serves as a warning light about that and continually testifies to our need for cleansing.

Maybe you can identify with that. Maybe you’ve experienced that restlessness and uneasiness deep within you. Maybe even now, you have a sense that there’s something seriously wrong with you morally. That may very well be your conscience, and God gave that to you so you would see your need for Jesus. He’s the only one who can help you.

He can even help you if you’ve done specific things that are causing you guilt. Maybe you have more than a general uneasiness about your moral condition and have done specific things that haunt you to this day. Maybe you’ve hurt somebody, failed somebody, or done something you thought you’d never do.

And ever since then, you’ve been carrying around a deep sense of guilt that you just can’t get away from. Of course, there’s a such thing as false guilt, but maybe the guilt you feel is legitimate. You really have done something wrong that your conscience keeps reminding you about.

I have good news for you: you can be free from that. You don’t have to carry that load for the rest of your life. You can be forgiven and cleansed entirely. As Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

The way that happens is through Jesus. That’s how we experience true cleansing. In fact, that’s the only way. You see, when Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment for everything bad we’ve ever done. He died in our place, as our substitute. All of our sin was placed on his shoulders, and he suffered the penalty for it. And now, because Jesus not only died in our place but also resurrected from the dead, he’s able to cleanse everyone who will look to him to do that.

And maybe you’ve already looked to him to do that, but you still feel guilt about things you’ve done. Maybe they are things you’ve done before salvation or maybe they are more recent things you’ve struggled with since being saved. Maybe you’ve looked at pornography again or relapsed into substance abuse again or lost your temper with your kids again or caught yourself gossiping again. And every time you fall back into those sins, you just feel like the most worthless person in the world. It sickens you to think about what you’ve done.

Let me encourage you to view that failure as an opportunity to look to Jesus anew and afresh. View it as an opportunity to let the reality of the cleansing he offers wash over you all over again and rejoice in the gospel in a deeper way than you ever have before.