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Is Our Conscience Important?

When we genuinely repent of sins committed after baptism, God forgives us just as He does at the time of baptism. The key lies in our repentant attitude of our heart.

Should we strive to maintain a clear conscience after we are baptized?

"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5).

"Therefore you must be subject [to governing authorities], not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake" (Romans 13:5).

"For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully" (1 Peter 2:19).

Will God forgive us if we sin after baptism?

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2, NRSV; compare 1 John 1:7-9).

"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).

We should diligently strive not to sin, especially after we are baptized. But we are not yet perfect beings. As Paul said: "I know that I have not yet reached that goal" (Philippians 3:13, New Century Version). Therefore, when we genuinely repent of sins committed after baptism, God forgives us just as He does at the time of baptism.

The key lies in our repentant attitude of heart. After having rebuked the members of the Corinthian church for certain ungodly attitudes (1 Corinthians 3:1-4), Paul commended them for repenting. "For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.

"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).

How great are God's mercy and forgiveness?

"'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the LORD, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool'" (Isaiah 1:18).

"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You" (Psalm 86:5).

King David prayed: "Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness' sake, O LORD" (Psalm 25:7). In other psalms he praised God for the kindness and mercy shown him. From David's words we, too, can learn to appreciate God's abundant love, mercy and forgiveness.

David writes: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, ... who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:2-4).

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy ... He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (verses 8-12).

David continues: "As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust ... But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him ... [and] keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them" (verses 13-18).

So great is God's mercy we also should be able to say, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 118:1-2).

 

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