I made a comment in a post a while ago (called Stick to Your Duties) that God always blesses obedience and He never blesses disobedience. I want to clarify this a bit more.
Let’s say that you cheated on a test. You feel guilty and sick about it, but you keep telling yourself a story about how it really wasn’t cheating, that you probably already knew that was the answer anyway, etc. But you continue to feel miserable, and you find yourself snapping at your friends, being irritable with roommates, etc. In other words, the Holy Spirit is convicting you, and one sin leads to another. Now you may go on to lead a decent life, but you will be forfeiting one of God’s chief blessings, a clean conscience. He will still cause the sun to shine on you and your electricity will probably still work, but you cannot say that God is blessing your obedience at that point. You may obey Him at many other points, but as long as that unconfessed sin remains, a certain hardening will take place. Jonah springs to mind.
So let’s say you realize that you need to take care of this. So you go back and confess the cheating to the instructor. Perhaps he will take it kindly and you will have the benefit of a clean conscience and no bad consequences. But let’s say he doesn’t take it kindly, and in order to keep his own conscience clear, he feels he must report it to the administration, and you are dismissed from the program. Now you have to deal with some pretty serious consequences that will change your life.
In this scenario, I still believe God will bless you and is blessing you, even if it means being kicked out of school or fired or disciplined. A clean conscience is a beautiful thing. And when you honor God, He will honor you, even if there is some short-term unpleasantness. And in this illustration, it was all your fault anyway.
But let’s say it is someone else’s fault. Let’s say you were the obedient wife and your husband was unfaithful, divorced you, took the money, and left you homeless and helpless. You have good grounds for believing that God will bless you and not him. He may be whooping it up and having a “good time” while you are struggling along, but he is the one with the dirty conscience in this case, and not you. He may enjoy some short-term benefits (partying, etc.), but you cannot call these things blessings.
Meanwhile you have some significant benefits if you will open your eyes to them. And you can call these benefits blessings from God. You are no longer living with an unfaithful man. You have an opportunity to trust God and lean on Him for support. You have a clean conscience, which is a beautiful thing. You can go to sleep at night and know that you were faithful. Better to be wronged than to do wrong. And you have the advantage of knowing that God loves to bind up the wounds of the afflicted and comfort the downcast. These are true blessings.
This is why the Bible can tell us to rejoice when we are mistreated, misquoted, maligned, and slandered. Not because these are good things in themselves, but because God has promised good things (blessings) in times like that. If we have done wrong, then we deserve what we get. But if we have been wronged, we can consider ourselves in a condition to be blessed.
Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
5 thoughts on “A Clean Conscience”
Great post. You describe things so clearly.
That reminds me of a quote I’ve read. I don’t remember who said it, but someone was robbed in the street and wrote this in their journal:
â€œLet me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my wallet, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, it was not I who robbed.â€
Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman?
Recently, I was thinking about things related to the end of your post, from the perspective of one who’s felt the pointy end of another person’s sin, and was interested to read a comment by Chris Braun on your husband’s blog, “Judge Me O God,” about his Psalm 43 sermon:
‘ “…[T]herapeutic Christianity” seeks to deal with bitterness simply by letting go of a feeling. Whereas, biblical Christianity rests in the justice of God. Vengeance belongs to him, he will repay.’
This is tremendously liberating, and gives strength to avoid returning evil for evil.
BTW, I think that “pointy end” phrase is Mr. Wilson’s!
This is really helpful in explaining to our kids why they should be sorry for the sin, and not just for being caught!