Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Curing the Evil Conscience

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Hebrews 10:19-22

What is an evil conscience?  Is it one that calls that which is evil “good”, as we were talking about a couple of days ago?  When we come to Christ, we do get our perspective changed.  We begin to see our thoughts, words, and deeds from the Divine point of view.  We understand things we found acceptable before are offensive to God and ought to be offensive to us. 

In the context of this passage, the writer talks about drawing near to God.  In this case, what is meant by an evil conscience has more to do, I think, with keeping us at a distance.  As Christians, our conscience may accuse us to the point that we feel condemned and unworthy of having access to the Father. 

I don’t mean to treat repentance lightly, but sometimes enough is enough.  When it comes to being convicted with regard to a fault in our lives, we are to repent.  We do that by admitting to God that we are guilty and wrong.  Then it is done.  But what if we do it again?  We’re going to feel bad and need, again, to acknowledge our failure.  Yes, but what if I just can’t quit?  What I’m really doing, at that point, is acknowledging that I know something is wrong but I rather enjoy it and don’t want to quit so long as I suffer no serious consequences from it.   If I don’t want to quit, I won’t, and I shouldn’t call it repentance because I haven’t “changed my mind” – no metanoia. 

Regardless of that point, I still have access to the Father in Christ, even if my “evil” conscience tells me otherwise.   The ultimate cure for wanting to continue under the flesh’s control is intimacy with God.  God does not fix us at a distance then bring us in.  He brings us in to fix us. 

The cure for an accusing conscience is to recognize the finished work of Jesus as Savior.  That’s all that I have going for me, but it is more than enough.  The Blood of the Cross is the answer to that nagging doubt that I am good enough for God.  Alone I cannot be accepted.  In Christ I cannot be rejected.  The Cross brings me into communion with the Lord, and once I am there, He will [c]reate in me a clean heart …  and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

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