The wicked flee when no man pursueth. – Proverbs 28:1
“Conscience doth make cowards of us all.”
Though the guilty one had never breathed a word of his misdeed in the ear of a fellowman; though the entire world was deceived into believing him to be innocent, he cannot silence that dreaded inner voice of conscience. In many cases it utterly unnerves the guilty one, though outwardly he dwells in perfect security. He who knows the revealed will of God, and His wrath against sin, must be prepared to expect judgments of condemnation for guilt. Though the avenging hand is stayed, it may nevertheless fall at any moment. The guilty one is like a condemned prisoner in a cell under sentence of death, who does not know the day or hour of his execution, and trembles at every footstep lest it should be that of the messenger who summons him to his doom. The murderer fears the falling of a leaf — so utterly unstrung is he under the tremendous consciousness of guilt. Can any condition be more dreadful? Rather than endure this agony of apprehension, men, who were in no danger of being arrested, have given themselves up to justice and confessed their crimes.
When we consider the relation of sin to God and to His judgments, it is foolish indeed to live in the shame of guilt, for there are peace and pardon for the penitent. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He (or she) who has been redeemed by Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit need not live in the perpetual fear of guilt and shame. He has been forgiven and restored. He is like the prisoner who can walk boldly out of the jail with a royal pardon. – Taken from The Pulpit Commentary (revised and condensed)