In the previous post, we tackled the first two steps in gaining a clear conscience. You will not be asked to record your responses to the following questions on paper. Instead, you will be encouraged to actually begin the process of obtaining a clear conscience—whatever that means and whatever it takes.
This is one time when it is especially important to be a “doer” and not just a “hearer” of the Word (James 1:22). Don’t let the Enemy steal from you the freedom of a clear conscience. Take those first steps today!
These may be some of the most challenging and difficult steps you have ever taken in your spiritual journey. But with every act of humility, you will receive more of God’s grace and be that much closer to experiencing the blessing of a clear conscience with everyone (Acts 24:16). As you work through your list, you will discover that there is no joy or freedom that compares with this one.
3. Purpose to seek forgiveness from every person you have wronged.
Listing names does not clear your conscience; it only gives you a map. Until you actually go and confess your wrongdoing and seek forgiveness, your conscience will not be clear.
Ideally, go and speak to each individual face to face. If that is not possible, talk to them on the phone. Writing a letter is generally not wise, as it is more difficult to communicate your heart and to sense the response of the person whose forgiveness you are seeking.
Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in the timing of when to approach the people on your list, especially when you are dealing with a sensitive issue. (You may need to seek counsel from a pastor or a mature, godly friend, as to how to best deal with some particularly difficult or complex situations.)
Express to God your commitment to obtain a clear conscience with every person on your list, and ask Him for grace to follow through on your commitment.
Tip: If the other person was also at fault, leave it to the Holy Spirit to convict them. God is asking you to clear your own conscience, not theirs!
4. Choose your words carefully.
Be humble. Don’t offer excuses or make accusations, regardless of how wrong the other person may have been. Humble yourself and confess your sin. When he returned home, the prodigal son said to his father, “I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 15:18). Be specific about how you have sinned against each person. Don’t just apologize or say “I’m sorry.” If you want forgiveness, ask for it.
5. Where necessary, make restitution.
If you have cheated or stolen from someone, offer to return or restore what you have taken.
6. Pursue reconciliation of the relationship.
To whatever extent it is possible and appropriate, the goal is restoration of the relationship that has been damaged or lost. (In some cases, such as those involving immorality, physical or sexual abuse, or illegal activities, it may not be appropriate to restore the relationship.) Once you have confessed your wrongdoing and sought forgiveness, you can then begin the process of rebuilding the broken relationship.
7. Face the hardest situations ﬁrst.
You may be tempted to put off going to certain people on your list. Perhaps the situation is extremely hard for either or both of you to face. Nevertheless, do the hard things first. If you don’t, you may never go. If you do, the others will come easier because you will have lost much of your sense of fear and dread.
8. Don’t stop until you have ﬁnished.
The process of clearing your conscience may take months or even years, but don’t quit! God has called you to do this, and He will see you through. If there is someone on your list that you don’t know how to find, ask God to bring them across your path, and commit to Him that the first chance He gives you, you will clear your conscience with that person. You may be amazed at what God does—He is more concerned with this matter than you are! Watch for His hand in assisting you. Enjoy the journey and the fruit of obedience.
9. Determine to maintain a clear conscience.
Take time regularly to let God search your heart and show you any way you have sinned against Him or others. Seek to keep short accounts—to deal with each offense as God convicts you of it.
Next time we’ll offer just a few additional guidelines to keep in mind as you seek to obtain and maintain a clear conscience.
Excerpt from Seeking Him, © 2004 by Life Action Ministries, written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom with Life Action Ministries, published by Moody Publishers in Chicago, IL. Used by permission.