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Do you ever feel haunted by a past failure or a guilty conscience?

King Herod, the most powerful and wealthy man in Judea, had everything he wanted, except a clear conscience and peace with God.

Matthew 14:  1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus

and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.

He has been raised from the dead;

that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison

on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,

for John had said to him,

“It is not lawful for you to have her.”

Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,

for they regarded him as a prophet.

But at a birthday celebration for Herod,

the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests

and delighted Herod so much

that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.

Prompted by her mother, she said,

“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”

The king was distressed,

but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,

he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.

His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,

who took it to her mother.

His disciples came and took away the corpse

and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to rebuke Herod for his adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife.  He ended up in prison because of Herodias’ jealousy. Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin. Herod’s power and influence was badly flawed. He could take a strong stand on the wrong things when he knew the right.  Such a stand, however, was a sign of weakness and cowardice. Where do you get the strength of will and heart to choose what is right and to reject what is bad?

The Lord gives grace and help to the humble, to those who acknowledge their weaknesses and their sinfulness, and who look to God for his mercy and pardon, wisdom and strength. His grace and pardon not only frees us from a guilty conscience, it enables us to pursue holiness in every area of our lives, in our thoughts and intentions as well as our words and actions.

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What Do You Do With Your Guilty Conscience?  was originally published on