Our merciful God will forgive us as we repent and confess our sins. Is that enough? What if I sin against my son? Do I only go to God to confess my sins against my son? Brothers and sisters, I also need to ask my son to forgive me.
Jesus taught us, that “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Paul highlighted two indispensable weapons that “you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:18b-19B).
Peter instructs us to “keep a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:16).
If I have a guilty conscience:
· I will be afraid to witness because I know I have no credibility.
· I can’t make good decisions because my unresolved guilt will not allow me to think objectively.
· I won’t be able to overcome new temptations because I will slip into the same wrong conduct again.
Sadly, we are experts at making excuses . . .I won’t ask forgiveness because:
· “He or she moved.” We can ask God to help us find them.
· “It was insignificant” or “That was years ago.” Yet we still remember what we did.
· “Our relationship has improved.” It seems now is the right time to ask forgiveness.
· “They will not understand.” They will know that we are humble Christ-followers.
· “I can’t pay the debt I would have owed.” Better an honest Christian debt than a guilty conscience.
· “No one is perfect.” We should not ignore unconfessed sins against others.
· “I’ll only repeat the offense.” If we humbly confess misconduct, we won’t easily repeat the offense.
· “It was their fault, too.” We must ignore their guilt and confess our misconduct.
· “My confession includes others.” We confess without implicating others.
How can I obtain a clear conscience?
1. List the unconfessed offenses, from worst to least.
2. Ask forgiveness only of the offended one/s.
3. Seek the best place and time to ask forgiveness. Face to face is best.
4. Humbly take full responsibility.
5. Prepare the confession word for word in advance.
Wrong ways to ask forgiveness:
· “I was wrong, but so were you.”
· “I’m very sorry and I feel badly.”
Better ways to ask forgiveness:
· “I was wrong for ____________________. Will you please forgive me?”
A few years ago I asked my son to please forgive me for what I feel may have been unnecessary missionary trips and abandoning him too much during his childhood. I painfully admitted that some of my ministry had been more about my ego than a prayerful balance between family and ministry. After humbly asking my son’s forgiveness several times, he graciously responded, “Dad, I fully forgive you. There is no need to talk about this again.”
We confess our sins to God and to the ones we have offended. The Lord wants each of us to have a clear conscience.
Paul testified to Governor Felix: “I strive to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16).