The more and more I think about the idea of our conscience stained by the guilt and shame of sin, the more I realize that there are two sides to the issue. For instance, consider the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8.1-4)
In the new covenant, there is no condemnation because the righteous requirements of the law have been met through Christ’s work on our behalf. The conscience has been cleansed, so to speak, so that we are now acceptable to God. The way into the Most Holy Place has been opened.
But while I don’t know what theological term to give to it yet, there seems to be another side to the “clean conscience” experience. On one side, we have been made acceptable to God. On the other side, we feel or experience that acceptance and cleansing so that we can accept the the new way into the Most Holy Place. In other words, a clean conscience makes us acceptable to God and makes us feel that we are acceptable to God. It is a work of God’s grace to be able to drink deeply the cleansing grace of Christ.
But I wonder, why is it that so many are not able to drink deeply of this cleansing grace? Why are some so plagued by their past sins that they never know the full freedom of Christ? What do we say to the one who still feels so guilty about their marital unfaithfulness of decades past, or about their perceived failure as a parent, or just dealing with the every day weaknesses and frailty of humanity? What keeps us from drinking deeply of the cleansing grace of Christ?
Is it simply because we refuse to believe that Christ’s work is enough to cover the blight of my past? Is it a twisted form of pride? Why do you think that some people have a hard time accepting this cleansing work of Christ?