under a special agreement with
Winners Series 2
under a special agreement with
Lesson 9: Gaining a Clear Conscience
Have you noticed that you get an uneasy feeling inside you when you say or do something wrong? That is your conscience. My conscience is like a voice inside me that tells me when I am right and when I am wrong. I must learn to listen to my conscience, because this is one way God speaks to me.
To be a happy Christian, I must have a clear conscience. I must know in my heart that I am right with God and right with other people. The apostle Paul said,
“I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense [a clear conscience] toward God and men.” (Acts 24:16).
When I sin against God or sin against another person, my conscience will tell me that I am wrong. I will have a guilty conscience.
To get rid of a guilty conscience, I must make things right with God, and I must make things right with those I have hurt or offended in any way. When I do this, I will have a clear conscience and I can be a happy Christian.
How to make things right with God.
To make things right with God, I must confess my sins to Him. The Bible says,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
If you sin, call it sin. Do not make excuses. God forgives sins which are confessed as sins, not excuses. As soon as your conscience tells you that you have sinned, go to God and confess it. Do not let sins pile up. The moment you confess your sins to God, He forgives you and you are clean in God’s sight.
How to make things right with other people.
To have a clear conscience, I must not only make things right with God, but I must also make things right with the people I have wronged in any way.
If I want to have a clear conscience, I must make things right with those I have offended. I must allow God to search my heart and show me the wrong things I have done to other people. Here are some questions I need to consider:
- Have I lied to someone?
- Have I stolen from someone?
- Have I had a bad attitude or been disrespectful toward my parents?
- Have I talked or acted wrongly to others in my family?
- Have I talked or acted ugly or disrespectfully to a teacher at school?
- Have I acted improperly toward someone?
Take definite steps.
There are some definite steps to take to make things right with others:
Make a list of the wrong things you have done and the people you have hurt or offended in any way.
Write down every wrong you have committed and the person or persons you have hurt or offended. Do not be in a hurry. Some things will come to your mind quickly. It may take time to think of other offenses and the people you have hurt. When you have completed your list, it may look something like this one.
Go to each person and apologize.
Once the Lord has shown you that you need to apologize to someone, do it promptly. The best way to apologize is to go to the person and speak to him or her alone. Do not talk to other people about it. Go directly to the person and go at a time when you can speak to him or her alone.
When you apologize to someone, say what you did wrong and ask the other person to forgive you. Do not try to blame someone else.
Many times a person apologizes in the wrong way. If you apologize in the wrong way, the offense is not cleared up and it will still be on your conscience.
Many people do not know how to apologize. Here are some examples of wrong ways to apologize:
- “If I did anything wrong, I am sorry.” This apology is not a correct one because you have not really admitted that you did anything wrong.
- “I was wrong, but you were wrong too.” This is not right because you are trying to excuse yourself. You must take full responsibility for what you did, regardless of what the other person did.
- “I am sorry I lost my temper, but you made me do it.” This is wrong because you are blaming the other person for what you did.
To apologize correctly, I should say that I was wrong in what I said or did, and not blame anybody else. Then I should ask the person to forgive me, and wait for their answer. Here is an example of the right way to apologize: “Anna, I was wrong in losing my temper and talking to you the way I did. Will you forgive me?”
To settle the matter completely, if the person says that you are forgiven, it is good to ask, “Do I need to say any more about this matter?”
Make things right with the other person.
If you have stolen from someone, you must make things right with him.
It is not enough to say, “I am sorry that I stole from you. Please forgive me.” You must also return what you have stolen or pay for it. If you stole money, pay it back. If you are not able to do this immediately, make arrangements to pay a certain amount each week until it is paid back. Be sure to keep your word and do what you promised to do.
Do not make excuses.
Sometimes we know what we should do, but we make excuses for not doing it. It is wrong to allow an excuse to keep you from apologizing to someone when you know you should do it. Here are some common excuses:
• “I will do something special for that person to make up for my offense.”
You cannot say, “I know I talked ugly to my mother, so I will help with the dishes tonight to make up for it.” This will not clear up your offense. If you talked ugly to your mother, you need to go to your mother and ask her to forgive you. Then, if you want to do something special for her, that’s fine.
• “I will apologize later.”
Putting things off is a bad idea. Jesus said that we should go quickly to those we have wronged and ask for forgiveness.
• “I was wrong but the other person was wrong too.”
That may be true, but you are still responsible for what you did that was wrong. The other person may have been more in the wrong than you were, but you are still responsible for your part. When you apologize for your part, perhaps the other person will apologize for his/her part. Even if he/she does not, you have done what was right for you to do.
If your conscience tells you that you are wrong, listen to your conscience! Make things right with God by confessing your sins to Him. Make things right with other people by apologizing and asking for forgiveness. No one should be able to say to you, “You wronged me and never apologized or tried to make things right with me.”
Your conscience not only tells you when you have sinned, but it also warns you when you are about to do something wrong. It lets you know that this thing that you are thinking of doing is not pleasing to the Lord.
How to say “No.”
As you grow into maturity, you will face many temptations. Learning to say no is the best way to stay out of trouble. No doubt, a time will come when you will be offered drugs and told about the wonderful feeling you will have. A friend may try to get you to drink beer with him. God’s Word says, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (Proverbs 1:10). A good way to say no is: “I don’t think that’s a wise thing for me to do.” Practice saying this!
What about sex?
Keeping yourself pure in a sex-crazy world will not be easy, but it will result in great, long-term benefits. Here are some facts.
God is not against the idea of sex. In fact, it was His idea to begin with. God loves teenagers and He wants the best for them. He does not want you to experiment with sex and end up feeling used and empty. That is why God says that sex is for married people…period! Only between a husband and wife can sex be the wonderful, intimate experience that God intends it to be.
When you get involved sexually before marriage, you are actually sinning against yourself. It is the sin of fornication, and the Bible says,
“Flee fornication…he who commits fornication sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
It is definitely in your best interest to say no to sex before marriage. By denying yourself some sinful thrills now, you are providing for your brightest, long-term future. The following story illustrates this:
Let us say that you have a fabulously rich uncle who is very fond of you. On your fourteenth birthday, he makes a wonderful promise. He says, “On your sixteenth birthday, I am going to bring you a check for a thousand dollars."
Sure enough, on your sixteenth birthday, your uncle’s big automobile rolls up the driveway. He has the check in his hand when he greets you. He says, “Here is the check I promised you. You are free to do whatever you want with the money.
“But I want to teach you to plan for your future, so I am making you another promise. Whatever you have left of this thousand dollars on your twenty-first birthday, I will give you that amount every month for the rest of your life!"
That changes the whole picture! If you have only $100 left on your twenty-first birthday, you get $100 a month. If you have $500 left, you get $500 a month. And if you have the whole $1,000 left, you will get $1,000 every month for the rest of your life!
That is the way it is with sex! When you deny yourself some momentary, sinful thrills now, you are providing for your brightest, long-term future with God’s blessing.
Write out your standards.
You need some unbreakable, unshakable rules that you will not break for anyone. Take time now to write out your standards—what you will and will not do. Things like:
- I will not be involved in smoking, drinking, or doing drugs.
- I will keep myself pure for the one I will marry some day.
- I will not go to parties where I know there will be drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Samson—the man of faith
“Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray, and strengthen me…that I may be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Judges 16:28
Samson judged Israel twenty years. During this time Israel was delivered from their enemy because the Philistines were so afraid of Samson. The amazing thing is that Samson never led an army. He was a one-man army!
In himself, Samson was like other men, but when the Spirit of the Lord came on him, he could not be defeated. One time he killed a thousand Philistine warriors using the jawbone of an ass. But Samson had a weakness. He did not control his fleshly desires, especially his desire for sex.
One of the women Samson loved was a Philistine beauty named Delilah. When the Philistine leaders learned about Samson’s love for Delilah, they promised her a huge sum of money if she discovered the secret of Samson’s power.
Delilah was an agent of Satan. She knew how to use her sexual charms to discover Samson’s secret. She begged him daily to tell her his secret. Finally Samson gave in and told her that he was a Nazarite unto God from his birth, and if his hair was cut, he would be as weak as any man.
Delilah knew that Samson had told her the truth. She sent word to the lords of the Philistines to come and bring the money with them. When Samson was asleep with his head on her lap, a man shaved his head. Then Delilah woke Samson, saying, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!”
Samson thought he could go out as before, but he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. This time he was as weak as any other man. The Philistines captured him. The first thing they did was to gouge out his eyes. They bound him in chains and led him off to prison in Gaza.
They made Samson grind grain. They ridiculed him and tormented him daily. But soon Samson’s hair began to grow again.
One day the Philistines made a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god. They wanted to celebrate. They said, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”
When they were full of drink and their hearts were merry, they called for Samson so they could make fun of him. They put him between the pillars that supported the temple. The temple was full of people, and about 3,000 were on the roof.
In a mighty act of faith, Samson prayed, “O God, strengthen me just once more…let me die with the Philistines.” The power of God came upon him and he pushed the pillars apart. The whole structure collapsed, killing Samson and thousands of his enemies.