One absolutely wonderful part of being a Christian is having a clear conscience before God and others. It all has to do with what Jesus did for me: he lived a perfect life for me, died on the cross for me, and was raised from the dead for me. Because of this, by faith I receive his righteousness and my sins are washed away: I am justified by God. Therefore I have peace with God and there is no condemnation in my future (Rom. 5:1, 8:1). Over and over I look to Christ to remember and rejoice in the fact that these things are true – this helps my conscience remain free and clear. Christopher Ash comments well on this:
Learning to do this [look to Christ and his cleansing blood] is important for Christian stability. If I am not sure about what Christ has done for me, I will always be dissatisfied how I relate to God, dogged by uncertainty and insecurity. When someone (a peddler in the spirituality marketplace) offers me a new technique that will cure my spiritual depression, I will be the first to sign up. If someone tells me about a church on the other side of the world where this cure is being experienced, I will save up and fly out there to get the cure, the ‘new thing that God is doing,’ all because I will not believe what God says. Instead of wasting my money, I need to think about the new and living way Jesus has opened up for me into the immediate presence of God. When my heart is filled with the wonder of this truth, I will be oblivious to the attraction of second-rate substitutes.
So the death of Christ not only deals with the objective truth of our guilt before God, but also addresses our subjective awareness of that guilt. It changes not only the way we are before God, our actual status, but also our perception and our inward thoughts about ourselves. By faith we say to ourselves, ‘God says I have been made perfect in and by the obedience of Jesus Christ. And I believe that what God says is true. I have been made perfect. I am cleansed at the deepest level of human personhood. Not only my actions and words, but my memories are cleansed too. So that when conscience drags up in my memory something of which I am ashamed, faith says to conscience that this thing, this sin, this impurity, this greed, this omission, this cowardice, whatever it may be, has been made clean by the blood of Christ. All of it.”
I take it that this is what John means in 1 John 1:9 when he says, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’
Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015