A loud fog-horn blared behind me and joined a police officer’s flashing lights. His cruiser was nearly touching my bumper. He angrily motioned for me to get over. With a car ahead of me, and other cars on my right, I had no place to go. My heart bolted and fear crammed its way into my mind. I frantically pulled over into the grass and the officer whizzed right on by me, screaming at me as he passed. A few seconds later I saw him get out of his vehicle, jerk on a vest with a orange florescent tape and begin calmly talking to another officer at the intersection. He was in a big hurry to assist the other officer direct traffic at a stop-light that motorists were treating like a 4-way stop. There was no emergency. Though relief flooded my mind, my heart still pounded in my chest. I’d done nothing wrong, but my mind replayed the scene over and over.
For me, it is a scary thing to see flashing lights in my rearview mirror. It’s scary because I don’t expect to see them. I try my best to obey the laws of the road. So when an officer blasts a siren or horn behind me, I immediately question what I’ve done.
“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” Acts 24:16
What does it mean “to have a conscience void of offence”? You can think of nothing wrong between you and God. There is nothing wrong between you and anyone else. You are not angry and no one is angry at you. You hold no grudges and no one holds a grudge towards you. You have no guilt. You have lived up to your word; kept your commitments–been truthful and honest.
In Psalm 51:3, David knew the hounding of a bad conscience when he said, “My sin is ever before me.” The bondage of guilt consumed him; it can consume us. Guilt holds us tighter than any shackles of iron. No torture the poets describe can match the fierce unutterable pain of a bad conscience. We know we’ve sinned and yet we do nothing about it. We hold onto it and let it strangle us and keep us imprisoned, unable to move forward.
As Christians, we are made free in Christ. Through Christ we are released from the guilt of our sin. We are given a clear conscience for the sin in our life because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin. He took our place for the punishment we deserve. When we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God’s mercy and grace gives us fresh starts–it justifies us. The trials of life are easier to face when you have a clear conscience.
Then when Satan, and life blares angry horns of accusation, you can know that you are free in Christ. The criticisms are easier to face. Paul wrote that he exercised himself to have a clear conscience. He knew he was free even though he was chained to guards, even though he was surrounded by prison walls. He held onto that conscience–void of offence as he lived out his ministry. He also lived in a way that kept his conscience clear toward man.
PRAYER: LORD, assure us in our times of guilt that You want us to live in the freedom of Christ’s love and forgiveness. Remind us wherein we may fail that You have won the victory for us. Help us right our wrongs and move forward in Your grace without condemnation and guilt.
© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011