These are brilliant insights from Dr. Kleinig. The times in my life when I have most felt fearful, upset by disapproval, anxious over “enemies,” have been the times when I’ve been least in touch with the Gospel. He is spot on, and as usual, delivers the Goods:

The cloud that comes from God’s accusation and condemnation affects our whole behavior. When we have a bad conscience, we cover up our shortcomings and trumpet our achievements before others. A bad conscience distorts the way we react to approval and disapproval. Both are personalized and exaggerated, misinterpreted and magnified. Our friends are those who affirm us, while our enemies are those who criticize us. Life becomes an ongoing exercise in self-promotion and self-justification before others. Most of all, we are afraid—afraid of rejection by people and by God, afraid of death and confrontation with God the judge in the final judgment.

But, our conscience

is fully enlightened by the Gospel that cleanses us from that impurity, the Good News that we are justified by the grace of God the Father through faith in His beloved Son, Jesus…. Through faith in Christ we receive a good conscience.

–John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace