bless your heart for your honesty! What you are saying here is so much of what Nancy DeMoss was talking about yesterday on her program. It really made me think, as well, about who I might have anything against or am holding a grudge without really knowing it (acknowledging it). I'll post what she said below.
Way to go, Dian! Indeed, we all could use some time for more introspection.
In His love, Chanin
Someone has said that a guilty conscience keeps more people awake than coffee. David described that feeling in Psalm 32 when he said, "Day and night your hand was heavy upon me." (verse 4) Well, that's not a nice feeling to have, but it's a blessing that God would love us enough that when we have sinned against Him or against someone else, He would bring conviction by His Holy Spirit to keep us honest to stay honest. And if you experience that conviction, that's an evidence that you're a child of God.
Somebody else said that the greatest tormentor of the human soul is a guilty conscience. You know, if we don't have a clear conscience, first with God and then with others, we will experience debilitating consequences in many possible different ways in our lives. It can be spiritual, emotional, or even physical consequences of not having a clear conscience.
For example, if your conscience is not clear. . . if you've been sloughing off on the job, you've been lazy about your work and other people in the office know it. They're having to shoulder part of your load. What do you think is going to happen when you go and try to witness to those people about your relationship with Christ?
That's why Peter says in 1 Peter 3, "Make sure you have a clear conscience so that no one can revile your good behavior in Christ." (verse 17 paraphrased) So the enemy won't be able to blackmail your mouth shut when you go to witness.
In Psalm 32, after he committed his great sin with Bathsheba, David talks about the physical and the emotional torment that he experienced as a result of keeping silent about his sin. He says, "When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. My strength was dried up as by the heat of summer." (verses 3 & 4) Even our joints can become dried out and not be as lubricated as they once were when we have a guilty conscience.
You say, "How does that work?" I don't know, but I know that our physical well being is connected to the well being of our spirit, our emotions, our soul, our relationship with God, and with others. It can even affect us physically. You've heard how doctors have said how many gastrointestinal disorders and disorders of various types can be affected by the state of our conscience.
If we're not right with God, if we're bitter, if we're angry, if we're unforgiving, if our conscience is not clear, it can take a toll on our bodies, physically. In fact, if you don't have a clear conscience, according to 1 Timothy chapter 1, you can actually shipwreck your faith. That's what Paul says 1 Timothy 1:19, "That we need to hold onto faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this some have made shipwreck of their faith."
Paul also says in 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 5 that if we don't have a clear conscience we'll have a diminished capacity to love others. He says the result of our teaching - the goal of our teaching - is love, and this love comes springing forth out of a heart that is pure, a conscience that is clear, and a faith that is genuine.
So it's very important that we commit ourselves to have a clear conscience with God and every person. Jesus highlighted the importance of this in Matthew chapter 5 (:23-24) in the Sermon on the Mount. He said if you're offering your gift at the altar: you're at church, in your quiet time, you're giving an offering, you're serving in some way, you're offering your gift to the Lord, and at that moment you remember that your brother has something against you, there's an unresolved conflict, there's some way you've wronged someone and you've not reconciled it, leave your gift there before the altar.
Stop what you're doing; stop praying; stop singing, and stop whatever you are doing. Now you may stop in your heart and resolve to go and do it. You may not literally step out of the service, but He says, "leave your offering there and go." Then don't put it off till next year or next month or some other time. Don't push away the conviction. Leave your offering there. Go, first be reconciled to your brother, be right with him, and then come and offer your gift to me.
God says, "I don't want your gifts. I don't want your sacrifices. I don't want your services as long as you have a mate, a child, a friend, an employer, someone you're not right with. Go be reconciled." You can't be right with God and not be right with others.
So as I'm even talking at this moment, perhaps you're thinking of someone, someone has come to mind, a face, a name, maybe more than one person. You're recalling occasions when you offended someone, or you're thinking of people with whom you have or had a conflict.
What should you do? I'm glad you asked because in the rest of this session and tomorrow I'm going to give you just some real, practical guidelines that I have learned from others over the years about how to obtain and maintain a clear conscience.
Start by making a list. Ask the Lord to show you, who do I need to clear my conscience with? Who have I sinned against - going as far back as God takes your memory? Who have I sinned against and not gone back to that person and made it right? And then start going. That's what Jesus says, "Leave your gift there before the altar and go." Go!
I'd suggest you go to the hardest one first because if you don't, you may find yourself delaying and putting that one off. You may never get to that one, but if you do the hardest one first the others won't seem nearly as difficult after that.
I heard one young woman in her early twenties share recently about how she had been challenged to have a clear conscience. She said, I think there were thirty-some people on her list, she said, "I'm just getting to the very last ones on the list."
What do you do when you go to the person? Be honest. Tell them what you've done, confess, and ask specifically and humbly as possible what you've done. I sinned against God, and I sinned against you.
That's what the prodigal son said when he went home to his dad, isn't it? Dad, I've sinned against heaven and against you. My conscience isn't clear with God or with you. I've come home to make it right. (Luke 15:11-32) And then after you humbly confess what it is that you've done, how you've sinned, then ask for their forgiveness, if that's what you want. Ask for their forgiveness and seek to be reconciled. Now that's the basic idea.
Let me give you some practical suggestions that will help you flesh that out. The wording is so important. Here are some things that I would suggest as do's and don'ts. First of all, do communicate in your wording a humbled spirit. Communicate a spirit of humility. You're not going to blame or defend or rationalize but just, "I was wrong; would you please forgive me? I sinned against you."
Then identify how you've sinned against that person. Be specific about the root issue not just the fruit on the surface but the root issue. "God has convicted me that I've sinned against you by. . . ." You say, "They already know it." You need to humble yourself and say it so they know what it is that you're asking forgiveness for.
And then, as I've said, ask for forgiveness. "Could you find it in your heart to forgive me?" You're not saying you deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness is undeserved, but you're putting yourself at their mercy and saying, "Could you forgive me?" I want our relationship to be restored and then give them an opportunity to respond.
Now as we are going to see in tomorrow's session when we talk about some specific questions relating to having a clear conscience, they may or may not be ready to respond at that moment. But give them an opportunity to respond. Now don't blame the other person, as we said, but take full responsibility for your offense. Your purpose in going is not to clear up their conscience; it's to clear yours.
This may be a matter with your husband or your child and they were perhaps as wrong or maybe more wrong than you in the situation, from your perspective. That's not your concern at this moment. Your concern is to go and not make excuses, not make accusations. "I'm so sorry. I've been such a terrible wife to you, but if you hadn't been such a jerk of a husband I never would have had to. . . ." No! That's not the idea. That's pride. Humility takes the place of the wronged one. It says, "I was wrong; please forgive me."
Don't apologize. I'm sorry (say yes, I know you're sorry [they say]). If you want forgiveness, ask for it. Don't rationalize what you did. Don't defend what you did. Don't tell him 10 reasons you would have done it differently if they'd behaved differently.
And just another practical suggestion here, and I there's no Biblical absolute about this, but I suggest you should not do this in a letter or in an e-mail. It's hard to communicate your heart that way and things can be misunderstood. Ideally, you want to look in someone's eyes. You want for them to be able to see and sense your countenance, your spirit. If you need to make a phone call, perhaps do that, but I suggest that these are usually not the kinds of things that should be documented in e-mails or letters.
And then the scope of confession. Just a statement about that. How many people should you confess what to? The scope of your confession should be as large, but only as large, as the scope of your sin. So, if your sin was just against God - I don't mean just - but if there was no one else the sin was against, then you confess it directly and only to God.
If your sin was against another person, then you confess first to God, then you go to that person and confess. If there was a group of people who were affected by your sin; for example, in your whole workplace your whole office knows how you talked to the boss, or the lack of a servant's heart that you've had, or the critical gossiping tongue that you've had. Maybe your whole church is aware that have been involved or were involved in an immoral relationship, or there's something that has affected a larger group of people. It will often be the case that your whole family will have been affected by your sin.
If you're a wife, you're a mom, or you're growing up in a home and we live with each other, we see what we're like and there will be times as a family member that you need to gather your family together and say, "I've sinned against God; I've sinned against you."
Say it to the family, to the church, if you need to say it publicly, to your workplace, to some group of people if multiple people have been affected. Say, "I've sinned against God; I've sinned against you, and I've come to ask would you please forgive me?"
[url=http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/today/25856]Revive our Hearts 3/15[/url]