In 2002, Reese Witherspoon starred in the movie Sweet Home Alabama. It was a romantic comedy about a married couple that had split up but eventually got back together. Within the lyrics of the theme song are the words: “Now Watergate does not bother me. Does your conscience bother you?” Through the ages, many have been greatly bothered by their conscience when they know they have committed sin.
Under the Law of Moses, each year the high priest went into the Holy of Holies to offer the blood of an animal sacrifice for the sins of the nation of Israel. This system was “imposed on them until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). The Lord required this system of worship until something far better would eventually replace it. Beyond this annual shedding of blood, there were also individual regular sin offerings required that literally kept the fire upon the altar going continually. We learn from Hebrews 9:9 that these “…gifts and sacrifices…could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.” Why? It was because “…in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year” (Hebrews 10:3). These sacrifices became a nagging reminder to their conscience of how constantly sinful they were. Knowing this, Jehovah always intended to reform this system with a better one. When the Lord Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind, “…by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place [in the heavenly tabernacle], having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12,23-24). God told Israel, Christ’s “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10) sacrifice was able to “…purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). These Hebrew believers were being encouraged to know that Jehovah was permanently satisfied with the blood of His Son as the covering for their sins. Therefore, their conscience need not bother them with ongoing accusations of guilt.
This principle is even clearer in Paul’s letters: “…We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…” making us “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6-7). Therefore, our conscience need not continually condemn us. However, God still uses our conscience to convict us if we are callously indulging in sinful behavior. Does your conscience bother you? When it does, embrace permanent acceptance in Christ, but immediately stop sinful behavior.
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