The distinction between justification and a clear conscience…

The word promises us that as professed and confessed believers in Christ we are “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17) and “cleansed from all our sin and sinfulness” (1 John 1:9).  This is our position in Christ, permanently and unchangingly pure before God because of His work in us.  This is the state of our current life in Christ.    This is what it means to be justified.  In spite of this amazing promise though we still struggle with sin in our lives but “as we confess our sin He [remains] faithful and righteous to forgive us” (1 John 1:9).

How then do we live our lives in relation to this position we hold before God…pure yet imperfect?  The answer to this question, the resolving of this tension, is ultimately what brings practical spiritual peace into our lives.  Are we “abusing” our position in Christ or are we “living consistently” with our position in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit?  The Apostle Paul describes this part of our faith walk as conscience.  Conscience can be defined from a secular perspective as “[an a-priori positioned inevitable event] of man’s practical reason [by] which [it (the conscience)] does, in all circumstances, hold before him his law of duty, in order to absolve or to condemn him [as he acts in concordance or discordance with it]” (Kant, Metaphysics of  Ethics, p. 217).  Paul describes 3 types of consciences; blameless/clear/good (Acts 24:16, 1 Tim 3:9, 1 Pet 3:16), weak (1 Cor 8:7) or seared (1 Tim 4:2).  The blameless conscience seeks to live in accordance with the direction of the Holy Spirit, knowing that events arise where sin challenges and setbacks occur, as a spiritual discipline.  This conscience seeks God in these situations.  The weak conscience produces an action  that is concordant with a principle, but the principle is misunderstood.  This conscience needs a renewed anointing from the Holy Spirit with instruction from the body of Christ to grow in understanding.  The seared conscience purposefully ignores God’s call on its life and actually lies about its actions.  This conscience produces tension.

As one’s conscience is clear, regret disappears and peace enters.  This does not imply any sort of perfection, just a consistency that we are growing to live a life in accordance with our position in Christ…


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