Hebrews 10:22 read - "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washe with pure water." (emphasis mine)
I grew up in the church and many very well-meaning Sunday School teachers assured me that my guilty conscience was really the Holy Spirit trying to convict me of sin. Sounds good in theory. But the Bible says that "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). And in Psalm 103:12 I am told "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us". So - if I've confessed my sin and God has essentially removed any record of it, why was I still feeling the poke of a guilty conscience? Was the Holy Spirit just being a bully or was there something more?
I've read Hebrews 10:22 numerous times before but the phrase in italics jumped out at me this morning as I re-read the verse for a Bible study my sisters and I are doing together. As I sat there, mentally chewing on that phrase, it hit me: if I have confessed a sin and continue to feel pangs of guilt afterward, that is NOT the work of the Holy Spirit. I have been cleansed from unnecessary feelings of guilt. I do not have to let anyone - the enemy or other well-meaning human beings - place a burden of guilt on me for something that God has declared settled. So the task that lies before me is this - learning to live in the cleansing that Hebrews says I already have!