If I just had three hundred million dollars
So we all heard the news recently, right?! Someone in our fair state won the mega humongous Powerball jackpot of over $300 million. That has GOT to make someone rich right?! I mean, winning ticket, bam! Drop the mic, walk away, sermon over! … right?! Well, if you’ve been even remotely paying attention over the past two weeks, you know that is blatantly facetious. It’s actually the furthest thing from “rich” as God defines it. This week, we continue in considering that definition and settle in on a peace of the puzzle of being rich (see what I just did there? Well, maybe not yet, since you haven’t finished reading or watched the video yet).
Way more than Jiminy Cricket
So, I believe that peace is essential to God’s definition of “rich,” and essential to peace is … a clear conscience. And before you nod your head and begin to move on, don’t miss the adjective which means everything in that statement. Because, we all possess a conscience, right? In some, its voice and presence is loud. In others, maybe not so much. But the simple fact of possessing a conscience does not produce peace. In order for you to have true peace, your conscience must be clear. It was a goal of the Apostle Paul to live with a clear conscience. Listen to what he says in Acts 24:16…
So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
Those who have experienced the otherworldly freedom that comes with clear conscience will attest to the fact that you would trade every penny of that $300 million to have it. Seriously.
Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.
Yeah, that was the wisest man who ever lived (King Solomon) being inspired by the Holy Spirit who wrote that.
The enemy of clear
There is a kind of conscience that is FAR more common than a clear one. It’s a guilty conscience. Guilt (usually accompanied by its more evil twin “shame”) is one of the most powerful forces created by our sin nature. Guilt will eat you up, and if there 45 people reading this post, or 945 people reading this post, every single one of you has battled (or is battling) guilt. There are a few kinds of this destructive force:
- did something wrong knowingly (in your past or present)
- did something wrong and only realized later that it was wrong
- didn’t do something wrong, but upset or hurt someone
- disgust with self
As suggested before, guilt has an evil twin, and is actually responsible for this twin’s existence. So what does guilt produce?
- constant state of shame
- broken prayer life / unanswered prayer
- inability to have a relationship with God
Guilt and shame are terribly destructive. There is a very real spirit realm that exists all around us and the devil is at work in that realm. The devil LOVES guilt. He feeds off your guilt. He uses it as a weapon to cut you off from everyone around you. In that place of isolation, he wants to make you feel comfortable. He wants you to stay there. He has free rein there. His voice is the only one you hear there. As you settle in, your prayers begin to shrink until they don’t exist. They appear to echo in a vast empty space. You begin to feel that God isn’t listening. You are convinced that God has left you, like a parent who sends their child to their room to wallow in what they’ve done.
Walk the line
You and I have a solution for this guilt problem, and it sometimes materializes itself in bootstraps and sometimes in steps on a line. We get really determined and yank up the bootstraps. We put both feet firmly on the line and we begin to walk it with complete resolve that we are not going to do those things anymore. We do this primarily because we look at guilt as a course correcting substance. Our guilt exists to lead us back to the line. But here’s the thing … our guilt is supposed to lead us somewhere, but it’s not back to some arbitrary line which we or someone else has established for us. Our guilt should lead us to a place of confession and repentance. It should lead us back to God.
A clear conscience is possible. Never lose hope. Never listen to the echoing voice in your isolation which says where you are is beyond God’s reach, that what you’ve done is beyond God’s forgiveness. The truth is that God is there with you in that space. You have been running away, but He has never left you. These four steps are not easy, but they are absolutely available to you, and there is no need to waste even one breath in not taking them. See, God doesn’t send you to your room, He pursues you. He sacrificed everything in sending his Son to die on a cross for everything you’ll ever do that will attempt to produce guilt in your life. Every wrong thing, whether intentional or not, has been paid for by Jesus’ blood on the cross. Not one single thing has the power in and of itself to weigh you down with guilt. It’s all been paid for already. The only thing you need to do is ask for it. God does not want you to pay. You can’t, and He doesn’t want you to. Four steps. Four steps.
- Place your faith in Jesus (no other thing or person can free you from guilt)
- Confess your sin to God
- Repent of sin (this means turning in the 180 degree opposite direction from it)
- Confess sin to people (this is often a step that’s not taken … James 5:16 is a powerful statement of the need for this step)
God does not desire for you to feel the weight of your sin. He wants you to be free from it. He made a way through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus and He wants desperately for you to accept it and experience the freedom that it gives. So what do you say? Will you stop pulling on those bootstraps, stop walking that line, stop hiding and allowing that loud voice inside you to believe you’re beyond forgiveness. Confess now. Turn now. Take every last ounce of the weight you’ve been carrying and show it to Jesus. Hand it over to Him. Know that when you genuinely confess, He truly forgives.
No peace right now? You can know peace right now! A peace that comes from a clear conscience.