Clear Your Guilty Conscience in 3 Steps

When God gets your attention, here's what to do.

It’s amazing how God can get our attention. I read that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played a joke on 12 of his friends. He sent them each identical telegrams that read: “Flee! All is discovered!” Within 24 hours, all 12 fled the country. What Conan Doyle did in jest, God does to us in all seriousness.

Clear Your Guilty Conscience in 3 Steps

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

The Lord will use situations to awaken ignored or unresolved guilt, testing our willingness to come clean and clear a guilty conscience.

The Father may remove what He gave—money, possessions, even family—to get us to a place where we’re willing to listen to Him and to come clean with sin we’ve buried. We’d rather try to live with a guilty conscience than to face the pain of accountability and confession. But God provides the right circumstance to help us face what we’ve avoided—and this for our good.

When God puts you in a situation that awakens your unresolved guilt, are you willing to come clean before God and man?

How do you do that?

3 Steps to Clear a Guilty Conscience

1. Realize that you can’t clear a guilty conscience on your own.

It’s a tough confession. Do you remember Lady Macbeth’s famous sleepwalking plea?

Out, damned spot! Out, I say!

And when the spying doctor heard her say this, and saw her trying to wash the imaginary spots of blood off her hands (really, off her conscience), he made this statement:

Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician. God, God, forgive us all! —Macbeth, Act V, Scene I

Shakespeare nailed it here. A guilty conscience isn’t something any earthly doctor can fix.

Only God can wash the blood off our hands.

Come Clean

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

2. Believe that Jesus has removed your sins—and thus, your guilt.

Why believe? For eternal forgiveness. This is good news. Although you have sinned, Jesus shed His blood on the cross as your substitute to pay for your sins. And if you believe in Him—if you trust Him for the forgiveness He offers by grace through faith—then you can know that your sins are forgiven (Romans 3:23-24, 28).

This is fine for eternity. But what happens when we sin AFTER we’ve trusted Christ? How many of your sins had you committed when Jesus died? None.

That means He died to pay for all your sins—past, present, and future. There’s no other way, to quote Shakespeare, to get that “damned spot” out.

3. Confess your daily sins to God and to people.

Why confess? For relational forgiveness. A couple of verses reveal our need for confession to people:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. —James 5:16
So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. —Acts 24:16

This kind of confession isn’t to “stay saved,” but so that you stay in fellowship with God (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2). The fact is, we need a set of eyeballs looking at us and asking the hard accountability questions. It’s too easy to sidestep reality.

10 Questions Can Help Clear a Guilty Conscience

I’m in an accountability group that meets each week for Bible study, prayer, and accountability. We begin our meetings by answering the following 10 questions. (You can download these questions here.)

  1. Have you spent daily time in the Scriptures and in prayer?
  2. Have you had any flirtations or lustful attitudes, tempting thoughts, or exposed yourself to any explicit materials that would not glorify God?
  3. Have you been completely above reproach in your financial dealings?
  4. Have you spent quality relationship time with family and friends?
  5. Have you done your 100% best in your job, school, or retirement?
  6. Have you told any half-truths or outright lies, putting yourself in a better light to those around you?
  7. Have you had the opportunity to share the gospel this week?
  8. Have you taken care of your body through regular physical exercise and proper eating and sleeping?
  9. Have you allowed any person or circumstance to rob you of your joy?
  10. Have you lied to us on any of your answers today?

Ask God to make you sensitive to His voice, and don’t ignore God’s prodding when He makes you aware of your need for confession and accountability. Be willing to come clean and confess.

There’s no other way to clear a guilty conscience.

Tell me what you think: How do you deal with a guilty conscience? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • ptl2010

    We had several comments from your blog posting on ChristianBlessings:

    From The Pews says:
    August 31, 2012 at 1:25 am
    Excellent Post!!

    Wonderful Questions…But truly, my favourite:
    ““Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician. God, God, forgive us all!” —Macbeth, Act V, Scene I”
    You NAILED IT!!!!!!
    Thank you for sharing
    God Love You ♥

    meetingintheclouds says:
    August 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    I think one of the best means of spiritual growth (apart, of course, from communion with the living God and studying, meditating on and memorising His Word, and serving Him) is via an accountability partner – an honest friend to keep each other accountable and to pray about each other’s ‘weak spots’ptl2010 says: August 31, 2012 at 5:43 pmI like this “The fact is, we need a set of eyeballs looking at us and asking the hard accountability questions. It’s too easy to sidestep reality.”. Very true, sometimes we forget that He sees even if we cannot see Him. When He uses a set of eyeballs to keep us on the straight and narrow, it really helps, especially as Cloudwatcher mentions, if we can team up with someone in the Lord’s service. If we can’t have someone, a team of prayer warriors will help too, as confession for needs and intercession are made, we remember we are accountable and must be responsible to be straight and clean before the Lord with updates and praise for what He has done in our lives.

    • That’s really great. So glad the questions and the post was helpful for your readers!

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  • Letitia Bullock

    I have sinned recently. I just want to confess that before man and before God. This has been a sin that I have been dealing with for a while. I was delivered from it, but sometimes I fall short.

    • So glad for you, Letitia, that the Lord has delivered you from it. I hope you’re also involved in a good, Bible-teaching church where you can find a good woman’s group for some ongoing accountability. It really is essential to keep you strong and encouraged. God bless.

  • Anonymous

    I remember sinning when I was a child trying to poison my mother but whenever I try to chat with my parents they don’t remember or believe me. So this thought keeps coming back to me. I’ve got no one in my life to share my problems with, not even my parents.

    • That’s a tough place to be. You can always talk to God, of course, and I urge you to get involved in a small group Bible study at your local church. There are solutions to what you’re struggling with. No need to stay there. God bless.

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  • Unknown

    I have recently sinned and in the back of my mind while I was doing to sin I had a feeling I was being told not to do it but I still did it. will God ever forgive me or did I go to far

  • MegaLolman2000

    First, how can I achieve spending daily time in scriptures and prayer? Should I pray every day? I already do. Is weekly church not enough?
    Secondly, What can I do to ‘share the gospel’? What does that mean?
    Lastly, what do you mean by if there was ‘any circumstance to rob me of my joy’?
    I am not trying to criticize, I just want some clarification. Thank you.

    • Thanks for asking for clarification. The list of questions is only a suggestion that could occur in the context of an accountability group. Nevertheless, they are helpful questions to ask to help keep us on course in the basic disciplines of the Christian life. You praying every day is wonderful. Here’s a post that might help you with your daily time with God. As far as sharing the gospel, that simply means telling others about salvation through Jesus Christ whenever the Lord provides you the opportunity. Finally, as far as any situation “robbing you of joy,” that is a pretty ambiguous question, I admit. The basic issue is whether or not the anxieties of the world have overshadowed your trust in God. Great questions! Thanks.

  • Ashameddddddd

    I’ve wronged my boyfriend a few times in our relationship… He doesn’t know but recently I’ve been thinking of the past things I’ve done.. I’ve been asking God to forgive me but I still feel so horrible.. Do I just need to move on from it because God has forgiven me or do I need to say something…

    • Without knowing the details of your situation, it’s hard to offer specific counsel. If you’re unable to shake the guilt, then I assume the wrongs you’ve done against your boyfriend are significant. I urge you to talk to your pastor or a godly older woman for advice. Feel free to respond with more specifics. Have you done all this post suggests?

  • Jeanelle Sims

    Guilt was very real to me for many years, even after I was born again. I did not want anyone to know about my past. I carried that weight around for many years but one day I realized I was free of that guilt. I can not give a date when that happened but as I think about it I am sure it was when I was sure that Jesus had died for ALL my sins. God is satisfied !!PTL

    • We’ve all been there, Jeanelle. How delightful that God shined His light in your heart. Isn’t He good? ALL sins—paid.

  • Don

    One of the servant leaders of the company I work for “lies” continuously about a lot of issues he should just tell the truth about. My question>how do I go about telling him how to tell the truth? Everyone in the company including the other leaders knows he’s a liar. They think it’s funny to hear him talk but I find it to be a let down for he is suppose to be a coach, mentor and leader. I sometimes want to send him a verse out of the bible about lieing and how it is a sin. Help!!

  • josh

    I have wanted to do things with some of my family members and have done stuff to pictures of them but I don’t want to and it makes me sad and I cant clear my mind I know I’m a horrible person but I just want to be saved and I cant confront the family members because I will most likely be shamed

    • There is nothing you have done, Josh, that Jesus Christ won’t forgive if you place your faith in Him. He is the only way to God and the only way to forgiveness. You needn’t continue to live in fear and shame. Accept the grace He offers you, Josh.

      • josh

        thank you so much

  • josh

    its me again and I need help or this could ruin a relationship I’ve done stuff to a pic of my girlfriends bestfriend and now I cant stop thinking about that person but I don’t want them plz help me forget about this and every time I see a person I imagine things how can I fix my messed up soul plz help

    • The only way to renew your mind, Josh, is to spend regular time in the Bible and think about it when those thoughts come to your mind. No other method helps you grow and mature.

      • josh

        can I be forgiven for all sins and forget about and not think about these things

        • As I mentioned a couple of months ago, Josh, there is nothing you have done that Jesus Christ won’t forgive if you place your faith in Him. He is the only way to God and the only way to forgiveness. You needn’t continue to live in fear and shame. I urge you to get involved in a church with some men who can encourage you man to man. You can find a church here. There is hope.

          • josh

            I don’t know if I can be forgiven for these things

          • josh

            all I feel is guilt and I cant stop I wish this could end now

  • josh

    are there any other ways bc I feel guilt all the time like I wish I never did it I want to forget it plz is there a way I can plz forget this I need help. I cant go anywhere just do u have any advice on how to forget or anything and again I still cant go to anyone bc I don’t wanna become disgraced

    • The trap you’re stuck in, Josh, is one you can’t likely escape on your own. If you won’t go to your church, then you need to find a Christian counselor in your area. You also can get the book The Game Plan and do what it says. The question is, how badly do you want freedom and to honor God? It is available if you have the courage to take it.

      • josh

        just can I be forgiven

        • Yes. Read this post again. It outlines it clearly. You mustn’t think of God in human terms. He forgives because of His character, not yours. You must believe you’re forgiven because of His character, not yours.

  • Flora Bassey

    i start by confessing to God first. Sometimes I tell untruths to avoid confrontations. I do so eloquently that I catch myself mid sentence and then try to retrack. I am truly trying. But I always divulge everything to God. If I confessed to my husband that I was overtaken and committed adultery, yet I stopped the relationship, moved country and gave my life to Jesus. Should I still confess to my husband? This will ruin my marriage don’t you think?

    It is weighing heavily on my mind if I have truly been forgiven. What more do I have to do? I have told my close friends and they encouraged me to put it behind me. Even my reasons are lame for having committed adultery. My husband contacted a friend of mine behind my back and begged her not to tell me about it. But she did tell me. When asked, he denied of course.

    This is where I anchor my miserable reason for my abominable sin. I really need another head to advise me on a physical level, what consequences are there to this sin? I am doing my best to keep the straight path and it is getting easier. Just the white lies I am working on seriously.

    • Flora, forgiveness is based on your relationship with with Christ, as the post mentions. About confessing your sin to your husband, you probably should. However, I think you should talk it through with a good Christian counselor. The right thing is always the best decision, even when it’s hard.