Before I get started, I need you to know three things.
1. If you read this, it will change your life! (Confident, not arrogant)
2. Some will completely miss the simple truth of what God’s word is saying, only because it doesn’t seem hard enough!
3. This is a long one, so get a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and drink them both in.
Almost every Christian I know deals with personal condemnation on some level. And those who don’t… well, maybe the’re super Christians, or a little out of touch with reality.
God has recently been helping me to break free from personal condemnation, and the amazing thing is, the process is so simple; so simple in fact that it has completely taken me by surprise! I want to help you see the simple truths that God has helped me discover so that you too can become free of condemnation, and its destruction.
Why does it have to be so hard to be a Christian?
Fact is, many of us have been barely making it in our relationship with God. So much of our time is spent wondering why God had to make it so hard to be righteous. In all honesty, many times I too have felt like completely giving up. I was convinced I would never be good enough for God. I know all too well the places I fall short because it’s right in front of me, and every time I try to take a step forward I find myself tripping over my shortcomings. So as a result, I spent most of my prayer time begging God to forgive me, and help me to stop being such a failure. I would walk away feeling no closer to God than before I began praying. So I just thought, “What’s the point? I don’t get anywhere when I pray anyway. In fact, I just feel like more of a failure when I pray. So why even bother?”
Bible reading, oh yeah, that too. I would read sometimes, and when I did, it would be more of the same. It would point out all of my shortcomings again! Not only point them out, but put a magnifying glass on them! And that was if I could even make sense of what I was reading!
And of course we can’t leave out fasting. There was a complete joke. Fast, you’ve got to be kidding me! What for? For some other guy that’s supposed to be hurting more than me? Or to make all my problems go away? I can tell you this, if I can’t pray or read my Bible without feeling like a failure, I’M NOT GOING TO FAST! No matter how much that poor soul is hurting over there. He is no worse off than I am. I hurt too! But from time to time, I would try it anyway and the result was always the same. I would fail, and of course, end up feeling like a big failure; not to mention other things like trying my hardest not to entertain myself with things that would “make God angry,” or “hurt His feelings” and in the end, “would make me go to hell.” Hell, and the fear of God’s anger hung over my head like a dark cloud robbing any sunshine that the Bible said I was supposed to have in my life. I hated my relationship with God because I was convinced I could never be good enough to please Him. And besides that, He just made it way too hard to be a Christian!
It ALL changes, when you change your perspective.
So one day I decided, “that’s it, there has to be more to this relationship with God than what I’m experiencing, and I refuse to settle for this life-draining thing I’m currently living that’s somehow called, ‘a relationship with God.” I began to cry out to God. It was simple words, it had to be. I was broken. My prayer went something like this;
“Lord, I’m tired, I’m lonely, and I want to give up! I don’t want to blame you, but I just can’t help it. This hurts and I’m completely confused; but, more than my hurt and confusion, I just want to be near you, to hold your hand as you hold me close. I don’t really know what to think about you, or what you truly want from me. But this I know for sure, I want you to be able to break me and make me into anything that pleases you. I’m tired of all these thoughts, thoughts that plague my mind day in and day out. I just want you, no matter what, I want you!”
That’s when it all began to change. The change wasn’t instantaneous. It took some time. I hadn’t become the way I was overnight, so it wasn’t going to be fixed overnight. God started by showing me that I was still living like I wasn’t forgiven. I was holding my own sin over my head, and that sin was making it impossible to understand God’s simple but deep love for me.
Grace is the answer
Jesus gave a very simple truth to his disciples that slowly began to revolutionize my understanding of God’s grace. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that through him the world might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:17-18 KJV) So what is this supposed to mean, and how is it supposed to help me?
First, God does not condemn you for your failures, you and Satan do a good enough job of that already. He loves you and wants to separate you from the weight of that sin. That’s why He gave us the gift of baptism. Paul said this about baptism, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27, 29 KJV) When I have “put on Christ” I have put on forgiveness! God doesn’t condemn, he loves and heals. And even better, He has given me a promise! The same promise he made Moses, he made to me! Check it out! “I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.” (Leviticus 26:11-13 NLT) THAT’S AWESOME!!!
Still not enough yet? Okay, one more. Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11 NLT)”
Oh wow do I love what this is truly speaking!! He DIDN’T DEMAND SHE BEG FOR FORGIVNESS! Instead, the God who “searches the heart” knew she was ashamed, and offered her the gift of forgiveness with only one string attached, “Go and sin no more.” This part may seem impossible to all of us, or make us feel like we are back at square one all over again. Well I have another wonderful scripture for you. “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23 KJV)” Did you see that, NEW EVERY MORNING! So when we wake up, yesterday’s failures aren’t still waiting around for us, only our misunderstanding about them is. It’s this misunderstanding that God is trying to heal in all of us. Trying to heal us for one main purpose.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18, 19 KJV)
Our Purpose is to love the way Christ loved, and all of our religious practices should be a reflection of His love. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27 KJV) I’m truly amazed by how many Christians are deceived into believing that their purpose is wrapped up in their own ability to make themselves into what they think they should be. So often we hear talk of “self-purpose” and “inner-strength” while these concepts are not at all promoted anywhere in the Bible. We are becoming more confused about our true purpose because we are basing our “self-worth” off of our own works of righteousness.
The Bible clearly warns us against this deadly mentality in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk.” If we could truly make our own way through this life, and somehow create our own destiny by all of our good works, what would be the need for faith? What’s the big deal about faith concerning my purpose? “It’s impossible to please God without faith, because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists, and that he rewards people who try to find him.” (Hebrews 11:6 CEB) Without allowing God to direct your steps through faith, you will always be lost and without true direction. So you must trust Him, and take Him at His word. He is leading you, even when it feels like He’s left you with nothing to follow!
It all comes down to this
If I want to live a life free from condemnation, guilt, and confusion, I first must understand that God is not holding my sin over my head. He loves and forgives me. So because he loves me this way, He wants me to love others in the same manner and stop condemning them for their sins.
“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second command is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30, 31 NLT)
So if I can’t look past another’s sin, how can I help them? “DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me get the tiny particle out of your eye, when there is the beam of timber in your own eye? You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 AMP)
The truly amazing thing about God is, He loves the pedophile equally as much as the child who is experiencing the pain from that pedophile. His love knows no boundaries! It’s OUR love that has limits and is skewed by “the facts.” He loves you, no matter what. His plan for you will take your breath away if you’ll allow yourself to trust Him, and take Him at His word.