Minister’s forum: Conscience is a gift from God
March 21, 2006
Whenever we have things in our past that we have done wrong and have not made those thing right, no matter how much we try to bury our sins and faults, we are going to be haunted by guilt. There is this thing inside us called a conscience and, no matter how much we try to deny it, the reality is we are going to answer to God.
Associated with guilt is this terrifying fear that there is a true God and his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is watching. I know that there is this surreal and fantasy kind of religion out there today that takes the truth of reality and tries to disconnect us from law and justice and says that all is nirvana. There can be no karma unless there is a true and real God that we answer to, and when we do it is the law of sowing and reaping.
God has given us this spectacular gift of conscience, which is a God-given opportunity to repent for what we have done against God and others. In our guilt and fear we can look to God and find mercy and grace and undeserved justification through His Son and experience an exhilarating freedom. But, when we blame and deny, living a lie, trying to hide, intensifying our fears, we are driven to mental instability. We need to learn to say to God and those we have offended, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me.”
We are not able to get on with our future and look forward to that which God has before us until that which is in our past has been forgiven and then forgotten; not until there has been restitution made for losses and reconciliation with those we have offended. Our job is not to play judge, nor is our responsibility to change others, but we sure can change ourselves. When we are tempted to not let go of past offenses, God would like to remind us all that for every offense we have taken I am sure that there are a million that we have given. The inference today in our skewed psychology is that what others have done to us, shifting the blame for our ruined lives, holding others liable, when in all reality whatever has been done to us we have done to others. The question is what are we going to do about our own selves and our giving of offense and getting on with our own lives peacefully with God.
In the story of Joseph, he knew that it would be impossible for him and his brothers to have any kind of relationship with each other until everybody got honest with God and all past guilt be repented of and made right. Trust and respect had to be restored through the process of brokeness and love to become the intent of the heart for each other. Joseph wasn’t trying to play games with his brothers in what he was putting them through. In his Godly wisdom he knew there had to be reconciliation and Godly sorrow, not for having gotten caught but for what they had done against God. They needed to see their sin for what it was and experience the full weight of their guilt and fear before there could be any real change in their lives.
Because of our twisted way of thinking, seeing everything upside down, none of us are going to seek justification and consequently live it out in righteousness in Godly relationships until we have been busted. Busted by God for our crimes. Joseph knew God had forgiven his brothers but he did not just let them off the hook. He brought them to a place of radical and extreme change from the inside out.
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I believe in the same way that our lives are a lengthy process that God puts us through in our daily experience to admit to our own faults, making restitution, establishing wholesome relationships with others.
– Alan Morse is pastor at First Baptist Church.