When I was a young boy, I was visiting my cousin Sam in Pacific Grove. We were more like friends than cousins and we did most everything together. One afternoon we decided to go to the movies to see Behemoth, a monster movie in black and white. Back in those days late 1961 there was not much trouble two boys in a small town could get into so together we would go. My Aunty Mae was busy, and we didn’t really want to ask her if we could go, so out the back door and down three blocks to the movie house we walked.
But when we got there, we discovered, to our dismay, we did not have enough money for both of us to get tickets. After much discussion, we decided on a plan. Sam would buy the ticket with a clear conscience and enter the theater. The real dastardly deed would be for Sam to sneak down the aisle and open the back door so I could get in.
It was going to be an easy thing to do. We heard of others doing it. And if we got caught, the worse would happen was to be kicked out. Oh there would be a blemish on our spotless record and be banned from ever coming back, but no risk no reward.
It wasn’t that we were evil little boys of eleven, it was that we could see no harm in me seeing the movie from an empty seat. I was not taking the place from anyone else, and no one would ever know.
For the time, it was a good monster movie. It was a knock off of Godzilla. Lots of screaming, destruction, and ending with a victorious banishment of the monster. But I could not enjoy watching all the terror and mayhem. I felt all during the movie that someone was watching me. My guilt was keeping me from enjoying my ill gotten gain. I thought to my self, “Someone knows of the dastardly deed I had done.” I was attending without paying the price of admission.
I have done some things in my life which I am not proud. I have sinned in so many ways; I have done dastardly deeds that I should have been caught and punished for. But I have availed myself of the free gift of grace and forgiveness offered by Jesus. Occasionally I have the same feelings of cheating which I had back in my delinquent days with cousin Sam. How do I get over them? In the book of Hebrews is a simple and elegant answer: Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience. 10:22. That movie ticket which I cheated on was simply wrong. I was guilty even though I was ever found out. That feeling is not guilt, it is shame. Shame is the feeling in the conscience that makes us feel bad.
So every time I feel remorse, shame from a past act, I just smile. Jesus paid the price. God is able to cleanse us from that guilty conscience. Praise the Lord.