Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Breath Of Life"1 (Lyrics)
Imagine the face of the family dog, caught red-pawed doing something that it knows is wrong, rolling eyes, hunched shoulders, tail tucked between its legs, all signs of guilt and an anxious pup! It's funny to watch; it makes me laugh, even with the annoyance of cleaning up the ensuing mess.
A guilty conscience in a child of God isn't so comical, though. I like the Collins dictionary definition of a guilty conscience: a feeling that people get when someone has called their bluff, when they feel sick and ill to their stomach because they are the cause of a hurtful decision. The conscience is a wonderful, God-given tool to warn and protect us, but it can be damaged, polluted, and evil. Yet, belief in the sacrifice that Jesus made can repair a damaged conscience. However, under the old system, or covenant, "the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them." (Hebrews 9:9b NLT) The passage goes on to say:
Hebrews 9:12-14a – With his own blood — not the blood of goats and calves — [Christ] entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. (NLT)
Can you imagine what heaven is like, with Jesus in all His glory in that great sanctuary, God's own throne room, ministering for us in a way so much more effective than animal sacrifice? In the old covenant, the sacrifices were made outside of the Most Holy Place, "but only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance." (Hebrews 9:7 NLT) Jesus died outside of heaven, here on earth with all its crime and sin and suffering, to be the perfect sacrifice for us forever! And He did it willingly, knowing the cost, and out of love for us.
What does this mean for a guilty conscience? Jesus' sacrifice made it possible for us not to skulk around like a guilty pooch, caught in the act, but to be cleaned to the core, ready to serve the living God. We are cleaned up to be the royal priesthood, presenting our prayers, giving thanks, interceding for others, and being lights in the world that God loves so much.
Let us not settle for a damaged, defiled, or evil conscience, but turn today to the Saviour who loves us and provides the way back to a holy, privileged, and clean life in God's kingdom.
Prayer: We thank You, heavenly Father, for Your love for us — enough to send Your own Son to die for our sin and to make it possible for us to be free of sin and to serve You forever. Amen.