The Grand Inquest of Conscience

“The grand inquest of conscience is, is God satisfied?? If he be satisfied, I am satisfied.” – John Flavel, The Fountain of Life, Sermon XI, 149

Confessions of a former Catholic:

My conscience stalked me like a band of hyenas. I felt like I had a festering sore under my shirt.

My guilt drove me to weekly confession.? I’d bare my soul in the shadows to Monsignor O’Leary (fake name) who was 800 years old and half deaf.? He’d blare: “You did what?? How old are you?”? I’d exit the confessional, avoiding eye contact with the other embarrassed penitents, who awaited their own public humiliation.

I confessed the same shameful sins every week.? Sometimes I padded the list with other sins for variety, but figured that soon Monsignor would start recognizing me. So I started rotating with young Father Earnest (also fake name), who at least didn’t broadcast my iniquities to the nations.

Soon thereafter, every 3rd Saturday I’d drive to a nearby town, and reveal my deeds to an ancient priest even more deaf than Monsignor O.? No rest for the wicked.

“Woeful is the state of that man, that feels the worm of conscience nibbling on the most tender part of the soul, and hath no relief against it; that feels the intolerable scalding wrath of God burning within, and hath nothing to cool it.” – ibid, 149-150

Woeful was my state.? Until my burden drove me to Jesus, who saved me and helped me grasp that God no longer held a sword over my head, but was at peace with me, for his justice had been satisfied by Christ’s atoning blood.? “If he be satisfied, I am satisfied.”? The Grand Inquest was over.

“If you ever had ever felt that shame, fear, horror, and despair, which are the dismal effects of an accusing and condemning conscience, you would account it an unspeakable mercy to hear of a way for the discharge of a poor sinner from that guilt: you would kiss the feet of that messenger that could bring you tidings of peace…” – ibid, 150

How about you?? Have you discovered the unspeakable mercy of a conscience cleansed by Jesus’ blood?

photo by kromatic

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.