Posts Tagged condemnation

Who Condemns?

Romans 8: 34              NIV

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Yesterday I wrote to you about condemnation and freedom. Today’s verse asks, “Who … condemns?” There is only one fit and worthy to condemn anyone. That is Jesus. It was he who went to the cross, died and then arose to sit in glory at the right hand of the Father. So, does he sit there whispering into the Father’s ear all the things we are doing wrong? No. He constantly intercedes for us. Intercession is prayer on the behalf of someone else.

Jesus won his battle. He accomplished his purpose. Why isn’t he just relaxing, eating grapes. For that matter, why doesn’t he complain about all he did for us and how we fail to utilize his good gifts and even the way so many people ignore what he did for them. We may not be very holy either but at least we recognize his sacrifice.

The only person who is worthy to condemn you has chosen, instead, to pray for you. What does that tell you about condemnation and freedom? God values liberty over criticism. He isn’t a disapproving God. He sent his son to you so that your approval is guaranteed. Rejoice in the loving God who accepts you and calls you His own.

No More Condemnation

Romans 8: 1 – 2

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Isaiah 61: 1 is Jesus’ commission. It is the passage he read which marked the launch of his public ministry. Let’s see what that means to this passage from Paul to the Romans. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” The Tree of Life version says that Jesus’ job was to free “those who are bound.” Bondage is, therefore, no more to those who are in Christ.

The prisoners are set free because Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death. This is the very essence of Jesus’ proclamation of liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners. We are no longer under the condemnation of the law because we have been set free.

This is a difficult passage in one way. Although it is great news, we can find it difficult in application because it touches on sin, judgment and forgiveness, all of which are very full and challenging topics. Here is what we all need to understand, though. Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Where Jesus exists there is life, light and liberty. Therefore, if you feel under condemnation, I would have you approach Jesus directly because he did not leave his blood on a cross so that you should live under condemnation.

This is not a license to sin. Who in their right mind thinks such a thing? We are to live our lives honorably to the Lord, our lives being our worship. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me,” (Galatians 2: 20). Surely that is an intense statement of purpose. That is the only law worthy of our conversation, that we live our lives to Christ who willingly died for us. But doesn’t that statement also call us up to higher ground? I want you to live a life which honors Jesus’ sacrifice. That does not mean dead works. It means purposeful worship through your work, your daily workout, your diet, and even your driving practices. It means living with Jesus beside you every step of your day. It explicitly does not mean that you should feel condemned because you do or don’t do some of the things your church buddies think you ought. You better be able to take all you are and all you do into the very presence of the Almighty. If you cannot, then deal with that issue, but don’t let the law, or other people’s version of it put you under condemnation.

I believe this is a very freeing verse, but I also think it is saturated with personal responsibility to the Lord Jesus. I will not make his blood of no consequence nor shall I take his and the Father’s sacrifice for granted. At the same time, I will not let another use Jesus’ martyrdom as an opportunity to imprison the beloved. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5: 1).

Get Happy

Isaiah 43: 25

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.

You may have noticed that I have been giving you verses in which God declares that He is not holding onto your sin and further that He has actually put it behind Him and forgotten it. This verse from Isaiah says it about as plainly as can be stated. God, for His own reasons, decided not to remember your sins. That is such a great revelation and I am happy about it but I also see a message in here for our daily application.

Imagine how unhappily miserable God would be if He remembered every single thing we did wrong. Can you imagine how that would feel? It would be self-torture and yet this is the very thing many of us do in our lives. God chose to forgive us so that His love could flow. He chose love over judgment, over condemnation. The side effect is that He is happy and joyful. Hanging on to that judgment would have made it impossible for Him to constantly express joy towards us. Retaining our sin, keeping it before His eyes would have made him depressed and forlorn. So, rather than choose that lifestyle, He chose to forgive us and to shower His love upon us. We didn’t and we don’t deserve it but He chose the better way.

Think about how miserable we make our lives by being judgmental and angry. We hold onto unforgiveness and remember every sin and offense committed against us. No wonder we are despondent creatures. How can we look out of the lenses of our eyes to gaze upon the sunshine when we have cloaked our lives and habitats with the black sin of ourselves and others. No wonder we are depressed, angry and broken. In order to be healthy ourselves we must understand that Jesus told you not to judge because he was looking after you, not the other guy. God told you to forgive because He was guarding your life and health. The kids would say, “Get a clue!” Our father and big brother are looking after us, advising us for our best interests. They are not giving us laws, they are giving us life. Isn’t that what Jesus said his purpose was, to give us life and that in abundance? (John 10: 10).

It is time for you to be free of the guilt and condemnation of your soul. It is high time you let go of the past. Forgive yourself, be healed of a critical and judgmental tendency and forgive all those who have transgressed against you. Free your spirit from the oppression of anger and unforgiveness. You are killing yourself and this is not God’s will for you. I want you free from pain and living every day in the glory of the Lord. This is your right and inheritance. May it also be your reality. Amen.

Accuser

Revelation 12: 10

Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down.

Who is the accuser of the brethren? It is he who has been thrown down. It’s Satan, right? God is not the accuser of the brethren. We have already seen that He is the rewarder of the brethren. God is not judging us. He sent salvation and the salvation and power that He sent threw down the accuser. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1). Christ, our savior, rescued us from judgment and condemnation. That is why our Father does not want us judging and/or condemning each other. He does not want tattle-tales.

Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7: 1). Well, that sentence could just as easily end with “Judge not.” Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Jesus is the savior of the brethren. He has restored us in His glory and majesty. That is why he hates to hear us judging and criticizing each other. He knows our weaknesses. That is why we needed a savior but despite our faults we are the beloved.

If God isn’t judging us, and we saw that to be true in Monday’s Word of the Day (John 5: 22) and Jesus isn’t judging us (John 3: 17) then where do we get the goofy idea that we are allowed to judge anyone? In doing so we are doing the devil’s work because he is the accuser. This is really huge. Since God and Jesus have foregone their legal right to judge, condemn and sentence us then anyone who does judge is usurping their authority. This is exactly why you see verses in the Bible against gossip, backbiting and strife. We are playing with the devil’s toys when we engage in those acts.

Whatsmore, judging others invites calamity upon ourselves. That is one of the big reasons Jesus doesn’t want us to judge. Remember he said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Look at Luke 6: 37, “And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” The degree to which we accuse our brethren and judge them, that is the amount of judgment seed we sow and hence by that measure we will receive judgment. It isn’t that God is judging us. We have already seen that is not the case. No, it is that we will just reap judgment and condemnation from the people around us. If you think people are judging you, it might be because you have been judgmental. Jesus wants to save you from yourself.

Whatever you have thought about criticism, accusation, judgment and condemnation in the past should now be tempered by what you know from the Word. God has not called us as judges but rather as believers. He has not asked us to tattle on our sisters and brothers. He is explicitly saying to us that this is an area which is forbidden to us. Satan stands accused for this very thing. He is the one who holds our sin up before the Father but God has condemned him for his acts.

Free yourself from Judgment. It is too heavy a load to bear.

Free from Judgment

Romans 2: 1

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

First, I am not sending you this for the purpose of condemnation. It just struck me so hard and so loudly that I needed to write about it. If this is not for you, then just read it for the other people in your life that may need light in this area. However, having said that, I find that most of us have little pockets of judgment left in us. I wish I was clean of all judgment but if I said that you would know I was lying.  

The great Apostle Paul wrote this. I was first struck by how strongly he addressed his followers. It does not seem that he was in the least concerned with offending his followers. He did not even seem to consider how this counsel might affect his offerings. I could wish that all ministers had the courage to tell us what we need to hear but that is not an easy thing to do. You never want to offend people or hurt their feelings but at some level there is a time when the truth must be told. I believe Paul was more concerned about his flock’s eternal souls than their overly tender feelings.

Paul understood how large a stumbling block judgment really is. Jesus said if you judge you will be judged (Matthew 7: 1). Well, for my part, I do not want to be judged by Jesus. I want our beloved Father to look at me and see the blood of Jesus rather than my stupidity. I do not wish to enter into a theological debate about salvation and the blood but it seems clear to me that Paul picked up on the revelation of Jesus as it regards judgmental attitudes and behaviors and that those judgments we make have a detrimental effect on us rather than on the object of our judgment.

How far does this non-judgment go? In order to answer that please allow me to show you how the Father taught me about judgment. I knew someone involved in adultery. Now, of all the “sins” the sin of adultery is about as clear as any sin can be. It is black and white, no gray area at all. Well, I was struggling with loving the one involved in this sin and being supportive of their needs. What they were doing was just WRONG and they were confessing Christians. Where was I to stand? I wanted to stand with the Bible and on the side of right. Dad drew me up short on this though. He said it wasn’t my job to judge them. I didn’t think I was, frankly. The Bible judges them, the Word judges them. Their behaviors, quite honestly, were none of my business, as it turns out. Their actions were a private matter between them and God even as my own are between me and God and for no one else to judge. You don’t have to ratify actions or encourage actions that the Bible prohibits but it is not our job to judge other people’s souls. If the truth were to be told, we each have our hands full with our own missteps.

Since that situation Father has taught me a lot about judging others. Whether you think a thing is right or wrong is completely irrelevant. Isn’t that something? Even if the Bible says that a thing is a sin, it still is not our place to judge people as right or wrong, sinful or saints. None of us have been appointed as Lord High Judge. “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5: 22). Even Jesus does not judge for he said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world ” (Matthew 7: 1). If Jesus set aside judgment, why do we so revel in it? Consider the woman caught in adultery in the eighth chapter of John who the Pharisees brought before Jesus. He had the most brilliant response to them. They wanted her judged, condemned and punished. They knew, however, that Jesus went around preaching love and grace. They had him trapped, sure enough. You probably recall the story, Jesus challenged the accusers saying, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Well, that is the point isn’t it? Who among us is without sin? Let the one without sin judge others. When Jesus looked up, all of the woman’s accusers were gone. Why? They had the stain of guilt and sin on them. They were not qualified to judge anyone.

Isn’t it clever that these legalistic, holier than thou, Pharisees chose an adulterous situation to confront Jesus with? That was the very situation Father used to confront me. Jesus knew that our Father does not want us to engage in adultery. He knew every word of scripture. None the less, he did not judge the woman. Whatsmore, by his handling of the confrontation from the Pharisees, he prevented her being judged and stoned. Jesus, the sinless, Jesus the holy allowed a sinner to escape judgment. Howbeit that we, the sin stained, are so righteous that we would enforce judgment, condemnation and death on the accused?

Jesus did not agree with sin nor encourage it. So many times we think that unless we wave a red flag at someone else’s sin it is the same as encouraging sin but it is we who need the revelation. Then we will be able to help others. Jesus showed grace to the woman. He extended the Father’s love but he did not encourage sin. You will see in the closing verses of this story that Jesus said to the woman, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” When she confirmed that not one person condemned her he said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more”  (v. 10 – 11).

Paul understood what Jesus taught when he was in the earth. Our judgments of other people do more damage to us than they do anyone else. Judgments are very like unforgiveness. They each deal out enormous damage but the damage is reflective. In other words, they hurt us. “And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned” (Luke 6: 38). Surely Jesus understood the things of the Spirit. He is trying to reveal to us that we are our own worst enemies. Paul wrote that those who judge others condemn themselves. That is exactly what Jesus said.

I realize today’s devotional is long but it is important. We are condemning ourselves through our determinations about other people’s lives. So let us all do ourselves a favor. Free yourself from condemnation. Leave judgments of others to the Lord. It’s not your job. It’s not your business. Get free and save yourself.

Grace and Power

Acts 6: 8

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.

If you don’t know Stephen’s story you might like to read the rest of this chapter and chapter 7. He was remarkable in his faith.

This eighth verse really struck me today. I am always interested in hearing about the great signs and wonders being performed because I am passionate about us interacting with the world in such a fashion. We are disciples of Jesus every bit as much as Stephen so we should walk in and exhibit the same power and anointing that he did.

The reason this verse arrested me is because of the word grace. Stephen was full of power. We know that because of the many signs and wonders he performed. But what of grace? Why is grace mentioned in conjunction with a declaration about signs and wonders? Could it be that grace is a critical component of miracles? We know that Jesus was full of grace and compassion and we also know that the miraculous was common with him. 

I believe that the miracles are simply the release of God’s power into the earth through the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus worked hand in hand with the Holy Spirit and as you read about Stephen you will conclude that he did too. So, is it by the grace of God, then that we all are able to not only receive the Spirit of Jesus to live within us but also to release the love and compassion that is in His heart? And you see, if grace is a key element then that takes our cleverness, creativity and holiness out of the picture entirely. It is only by grace that we are saved and by grace we can walk in this awesome power. Because God’s grace is the fuel then we do not have to be anything other than willing. We only need be vessels of grace. However, being vessels of grace means that we cannot be instruments of judgment and condemnation. That stands to reason doesn’t it? Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is unearned; willingly given by a loving God. Therefore if we wish to flow in God’s power as did Stephen, then we must learn to flow in grace. We cannot be critical and judgmental while letting love flow. A critical, judgmental nature will cut off the flow completely.

Let us abound in this grace that so empowered Stephen. Let love honestly have a place in our hearts and thoughts. And, let us extend the precious love of God first to ourselves. Be not critical of who you are but rather revel in who Christ has made you. You are hidden in Christ and a glorious creature. Now let that glory flow to others.

Love and Truth

1 John 4: 7

God is love.

John 14: 6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.”

There is an intersection between truth and love. Perhaps a better analogy would be of a cord or rope that is made by twisting several threads together. Love and truth are a part of one whole. They go together. There can be no truth apart from love because Jesus is the truth and God is love. They must go hand in hand.

I have been learning this lesson the hard way for quite a number of years now. I hope I now have it. Because I have always valued truth so highly I thought other people did too. In my paradigm there is no knowledge without truth. I didn’t want to be wrong so I was willing to accept the truth. I have lived in a world where I was happy to be taught something outside my present reality because I was in search of truth and knowledge. I could be corrected because I was after actual truth, not just my version of it. I have learned, though, that most people are not like me. Most of us have a real investment in being right. And many times we are happy in our delusions and misinformation so we don’t thank a person who teaches us otherwise. We certainly don’t applaud them for correcting us. 

Truth apart from love does not set people free. I labored under the delusion that truth alone will set people free but that is not what the Bible says. It says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 32). You see, it is only the truth that you hear that will set you free. People will only be able to receive the truth when it is spoken with love. So before we try to correct people, we must first love them. I wish we could just speak the naked truth and people adopt it and change but it just doesn’t work that way. Our criticisms, verdicts and censures are preventing the truth from being heard. We are preaching the law of death, judgment and condemnation when we ought to be preaching the message of love and reconciliation. The law kills. Only love sets free. 

No matter what we think of another person’s lifestyle, even when it seems clear that they are in violation of Biblical principles, there is only one approved approach and that is to love them. We have created a society where few people really feel like they fit in. I am shocked by the number of people who tell me that they have felt like a square peg in a round hole. I look at them and think they fit but they have lived in a system of condemnation rather than acceptance so that they don’t feel approved. They constantly feel abnormal and rejected. It is so easy to identify what we believe is someone’s fault, sin or error. Why do we find it so much more difficult to applaud what they do right? And besides that, why can’t we love them just because they are children of God? Maybe our damage is showing. 

I had a situation where someone I knew was involved in adultery. I had the worst time trying to accept them because they continued in the adultery. I mean that one is on God’s Top Ten List. I could point to it and say, “I know that is wrong.” It turns out, though, that it was not my job to pass judgment, even in the case where the Bible was clear. Only Jesus has been given the right to judge. My job is to love. I mean, read the book. How many times did Jesus tell us not to judge but rather to love others? So the bottom line is that no matter how much we disapprove of another’s way of living or their actions, it has not been given to us to correct them. Jesus has given us the job of loving every single person on this earth. This is what I call “Adult Christianity” because this isn’t easy but we who want to be mature must grow up in it. We must do what is difficult. We cannot judge a person into Christianity but we sure can love them into it. Love is the greatest power there is and it draws all people unto itself. If you want to abide in truth, you must first abide in love. Truth without love is just dressed up condemnation and rejection. Let us not be masters of that. Be known as a person of great love. That is a high and worthy ambition.