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Monday, August 6, 2012 | Comments (14)

Throughout John MacArthur’s ongoing blog series Purity and Conscience, we’ve heard from several commenters who are weighed down by guilt over their sin. They’re burdened by wicked behavior in their past or impure habits they still can’t seem to break.

While our comments section isn’t the place to deal with specific cases, we do want to offer some encouragement to readers struggling to bear up under the weight of a heavy conscience. Frankly, that’s a situation most believers can relate to at one time or another.

First of all, consider that how you deal with the promptings of your conscience is a reflection of your view of God. Carrying around guilt over sins long-ago addressed in your past could be evidence that you’re not fully trusting in the Lord’s provision for those sins. It’s not a question of forgiving yourself, and how you feel isn’t a trustworthy measure of your spiritual condition. You’ve got to rest in God’s ability to remove your sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) and clothe you in Christ’s righteousness. You need to examine your own heart—is your view of God too small, or is your view of sin too big?

On the other hand, if your conscience is nagging you about an ongoing sinful pattern you can’t seem to break, then you need to repent of not truly repenting. Dealing with sin half-heartedly is essentially disguised rebellion, and it’s a sure way to train yourself to ignore your conscience altogether. You run a real risk of dulling and searing your conscience if you keep engaging in repetitive cycles of temptation, sin, and partial repentance.

Don’t trifle with your conscience. As John said, it’s not complicated—you simply need to stop sinning. Cancel your cable subscription, remove your Internet connection, end a relationship, change jobs, or move across the country—make whatever radical changes it takes to break your habits before you ruin your sensitivity to sin and cripple your spiritual growth (Matthew 18:8-9).

Of course, a pleading conscience might be an indication of a much larger spiritual issue. Constant, honest, biblical self-examination is a vital part of every believer’s life—we need to regularly evaluate how we measure up to God’s righteous standard (2 Corinthians 13:5). A nagging conscience could indicate that you are still dead in your sins, and therefore, still in need of a Savior.

If you have questions about your true spiritual condition, we highly recommend you take them seriously and do some biblical self-examination. John MacArthur has helped many people with those kinds of questions in two powerful sermon series—Salvation Survey: Saved or Self-Deceived and Examine Yourself: How to Be Sure You Are a Christian. Just follow the links to study the Scripture with him; you’ll get your questions answered directly from the Bible.

If you’re a Christian burdened with a heavy conscience, we want to encourage you to find spiritual help through accountability and discipleship in your local church. Airing your concerns in a digital forum like this might temporarily ease your guilt, but dealing directly and thoroughly with your sin is the only way to truly clear your conscience. Don’t remain anonymous, remote, and isolated; go to your pastor, an elder, or a spiritually mature Christian and get some help.

That said, we do sincerely love our commenters. The contributions you’ve made since we relaunched the GTY blog have been helpful and insightful, both for us and for other readers. Keep them coming.

Jeremiah Johnson


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#1  Posted by Luis Molina  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 12:54 AM

Thank you for this blog. I have currently been struggling with a lot of guilt. To the point that I struggle with going back to church. I love God, I love Grace Community, but struggle with myself. I need to reach out to a pastor or an elder because I have been remote and isolated for too long. Thank you!

#2  Posted by Ryan Binas  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 12:56 AM

Thanks for the links, Jeremiah - really appreciate it.



#3  Posted by Tonya Dixon  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 4:32 AM

Awesome insight...

#4  Posted by Grendalyn Nevarez  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Thank you for the insight.

God bless,


Puerto Rico

#6  Posted by Kelly Whalen  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Jeremiah, the way you addressed guilt ridden commenters is so representative of GTY. Your gentleness, wisdom, and advice is makes me so glad I am in the loving family of God. God bless you.

#7  Posted by Mitch Eddards  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 5:03 PM

I completely agree a comment on a blog is not a good place for fellowship or Fellowship. At the same time I think it is good to share one another burdens in the appropriate context albeit a pastor or a counselor or a deacon up at church. I thank God everyday for the church He has placed me in where I know the pastor well (have him on Facebook also) he is a phone call away also counseling if i need to, and also the Deacons have offered their services also.

I will have to admit Struggles are going to be a part of the Christian Sanctification process, it doesn't mean that we should use that as an excuse to sin, it does mean however, that we should use that as an opportunity to get back up surrender ourselves to God in whatever area we fall into and repent of that Sin; the Lord also Chastises those whom He Loves I have personally experienced this Chastisement in my life in a certain area and working on - refocusing my priorities back onto God - I do want to point one more thing out - and that is that Repenting doesn't mean that we will be sinless in this life- only Jesus was sinless - only after we die in this life then we will receive a new Body that is not a corruptible body but an Incorruptible one - every Child of God and I yearn for this Day. But Thank God for His Grace. God Bless

#8  Posted by Jason Johnston  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 5:05 PM

thanks for the links,I always love self examination> keeps me fresh. oh,and there's a typo in paragraph 8 "airing you..." should it say "airing your.."? I'm not being judgemental,I'm just saying it's a typo.

#9  Posted by Leslie McClure  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM

This is such an important area to work on. Jesus said, Those who love Me obey My commandments. But there are areas that just seem to continue to be unbeatable. Here are some things that have helped me with the 'tough sins':

'Meditating' (Thinking deeply, asking yourself questions about, reasoning, considering) on passages, doctrine and attributes of God. Applying them to your own difficult situations, thinking through them deeply.

Believing that Heaven and the Rapture are really 'real' for those who truly have worked out their salvation with fear and trembling.

Warn yourself to be a good and faithful slave using the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19:11-27.

Ask God for the ability to do these things, and for understanding.

It is amazing what a difference doing these things things has made in my life of tough-to-get-rid-of sinful practices. The effort needed is mentioned in Jer 29:11-13 " with ALL YOUR HEART'. God honors and responds to our efforts, and I thank God deeply for the way He has changed my life.

#11  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Thanks Jason.

#12  Posted by Jennifer Mc Farland  |  Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 1:05 AM

Thank you. I was glad to hear these messages that were linked. I am so very grateful to be in God's family and saved from my ugly sins. I just pray that I will never sin again (I know that is impossible but I just hate it so much).

#13  Posted by Orlando Delgado  |  Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Thanks JJ, it hit me right in the conscience.

#14  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 4:28 PM

It was only because I was being heavily fed biblical truth that I didn't succumb to all the guilt that started coming from both myself and from a very close family member (professed Christian, of all things) about 6 months after I was saved. I had moments of desperation and besides my bible and the biblical teaching of Pastor MacArthur (mp3s) I had no one else. I remember turning to God every single time, and to His faithful Word.

God is faithful, and He is good.

Thank you Jeremiah. I agree with Kelly #6. I have been following gty blog since its birth and I know that character to be true in all who have represented gty here.

Grace and peace,


#15  Posted by Greg Tegman  |  Friday, August 10, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Dear Luis Molina, Every single thing you wrote above is exactly what I was going through just recently. I had been struggling with much of guilt as well. So, I have been asking myself "What happened?". Where did my zeal in reading scripture go? Well? I allowed myself to entertain a sinful thought. I continued to do this long enough and became obsessed with the idea. I then gave in. Immediately after that, I was horrified, I stopped reading the Bible. I thought "I cant read this after what I just did. This lingered for weeks and then became anxiety. I had just moved far away from my home church in Marysville Wa to San Diego with my family. Weeks had past and had no access to a healthy church, depression set in and so on. I came back to my home town where my church family is. I will be back with them in Marysville Wa . The Senior Pastor is a graduate of The Masters Seminary. We must, no matter the circumstances, maintain our diligence in the Word of God. We must continue fellowship with the flock . Being accountable with the right persons in the church is a must. It does not matter what sin we may have commited. We must confess our sins to the appropraite persons always. Most importantly repent and confess to our Lord and Savior. Never loose contact. Again, Stay in His Word and fellowship. We are God's family. Let us both get up and press forward no matter the circumstances. Lets get back to work. Hang on Luis...okay?

#16  Posted by Michael Kennedy  |  Monday, August 13, 2012 at 7:27 AM

Thanks from me too, JJ, and the rest of the commentors, cause I was really struggling as if I was really saved or that this was part of my sanctification process. It has helped me to remember how God has helped me so numerous times in the past, I mean, making things work for my good, that I couldn't have been saved if those things hadn't happened. Of course, I still struggle and will , but hopefully less in the future with this help today. But man, that heart stuff is scary...I think I see that God opens up new sins to deal with that we think we dont have a problem with. Ha-ha, how does He know? Well, I glad He does, cause I still want to do for Him and be like Him, so I guess He knows that too....Thank God for Him... If we dont want to still be like Him....does that fall under the scripture of having all knowledge, but not have Love? (thus, not belonging to Him...How can we tell on that ? Need some more help. Thanks again, JJ. and others...God bless for your help. MKK ; St. Louis, Mo.