Give Me That Mountain

A Clear Conscience?

The Law and Grace. Day twenty-six...

When we changed our church affiliation a few years ago, I made a point of trying to do it the right way—whatever that means. To me it meant not just breaking off relationships and disappearing into the night, but trying to keep as many relationships open as possible.

I clearly remember one conversation with a woman who reminded me that I had offended her a few months earlier.

church social

I listened intently as she brought my “sins” to my attention. As she stated her case I realized that I was guilty as charged. I sincerely apologized to her, but it didn't seem to satisfy her desire for justice. Please keep in mind that I hadn't done her any material harm, but had hurt her feelings. And I could think of no other restitution than an apology.

What does it look like to have no more conscience of sins?

At the time I remember having no guilt or shame for hurting her feelings. I say a lot of words to a lot of people. And while I believe most of what I say blesses other people, a certain percentage of what comes out of my mouth is just going to be wrong—call it sin for the purposes of this illustration.

I regretted hurting her feelings, but I was not moved by my “sins.” I acknowledged my wrongdoing, I did what I could to make things right, and I moved on to another subject. And I believe this is what having no more conscience of sins looks like—at least in part.

She, on the other hand, was not ready to move on. In fact, my lack of crawling under a pile of emotional torment appeared to offend her even more. I believe this is what having a conscience of sins does look like—at least in part.

So how did we end the conversation?

There's only so many ways to say, “I'm sorry!” So after I had run out of apologies I simply said, “I hope this has made you feel better.” While that might have sounded like a dig, I didn't mean for it to. I just wanted an exit.

What's it like to be around a person who continually points out his or her own flaws?

What's it like to be around a person who continually points out your flaws—or those of somebody else?

A little bit of any of that goes a long ways.

A conscience of sins is a focus—a focus on what's wrong in the world, both in your personal world and the world around you.

The idea that we are to no longer have a conscience of sins is not actually stated as such in the Bible. It is inferred from Hebrews 10:2. Look at the phrase in its context:

God gave Moses the law for many reasons, which we will get into later. Technically, man now had a way to get right with God again through obedience—perfect obedience, that is.

But since no one could keep all of the law, God allowed for the blood of sacrificed animals to serve as a covering for man's disobedience. The law, however, was only a shadow of what Jesus would do on the Cross, and could not make perfect those who practiced the law.

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1 NASB)

Otherwise these sacrifices would have removed the people's conscience of sins.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. (Hebrews 10:2 KJV)

But those under the law did still have a conscience of sins.

Does this mean new‐covenant believers who live in God's grace are to have no more conscience of sins?

It is certainly reasonable to think so. But we must not respond like those in the Corinthian church by saying, “All things are lawful! All things are lawful!”

Paul corrected the church at Corinth for an over‐reaction to being freed from the law (see 1 Corinthians chapter 6 and 1 Corinthians 10:14–33).

Being freed from living under the law does not negate the existence of sin or its effects on mankind.

God's grace did not change the nature of sin. His grace made it possible for us to respond to sin in a different way—a way that doesn't consume our focus with our sins or those of anyone else.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NKJV)

Sin is evil. And we are not to just hate evil. We are to abhor evil—a much stronger word. To abhor something is to utterly detest it.

So how do you abhor sin without having a conscience of sins?

Please consider this question over the weekend.

Have a good day,
Mike

Image credit: Bill Lollar

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