He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned (Mark 16:16).
Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Do you ever feel condemned as your conscience becomes aware of wrong-doing in your Christian life? The Word of God makes it crystal clear that Jesus’ death on the cross completely eliminated the condemnation that once accompanied our sin. So now it is sin that is condemned~ NOT YOU!
For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).
So if God is not condemning you when you sin~ who is? We may have voices of condemnation in our heads from the past, but ultimately it is Satan who is the guilty one. One of his greatest deceptions is to make us think that God’s grace and the blood of Jesus is not enough to cover all the sinful behavior we may have when we succumb to the flesh. God is fully aware of our human weaknesses. He does not condemn us for being the very humans He created us to be. His wonderful plan for salvation has it all covered. God conquered sin and death. It is Satan who is condemned and will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity. But for now, Satan is going to try his hardest to convince us that we do not deserve the grace and forgiveness we have been freely given by God. He will try to convince us that we still have a price to pay. Most Christians know intellectually that these are lies from the enemy. But when it really comes down to facing our helplessness against the flesh, there is often self-condemnation that sets in. We have come to believe somehow, that if we work hard enough at being better, our flesh will improve. This is not what the Bible says~ and this is not how life lived in Christ works.
One of the most freeing things for every Christian to know is that the flesh will remain with us the rest of our lives here on earth. Knowing the true nature of our human hearts will help us to accept ourselves as we really are:
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Why is this freeing? It is because we can be at peace with the human lives given us by God. We can expect to pitifully flounder when we count on our ability to do what is right. And we can expect to go down the wide path of destruction when we trust in our human hearts to guide us. So why would God expect from us what He knows we cannot do? But He does expect us to submit to Him as our God, so He can provide the way to life through Jesus Christ.
Remember, God does not condemn us for being human~ He condemns sin. And when it comes to our continued sin~ He knows we have no power over it~ He does! God knows we cannot live this Christian life. God understands how the flesh can tug and pull at us no matter how sincerely we desire to follow Him. And Jesus sympathizes with us in our human struggles:
Therefore since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
So why not stop fighting against the flesh and being angry and frustrated with yourself about your human frailties. It simply preoccupies you with self. Let God take all your cares away and help you get down to enjoying your life with Him! That is what dying to the flesh is all about. We can’t make ourselves stop sinning. So instead of feeling like giving up~ give it all over! Admit your need for the Lord, and allow His power to overcome sin in your life. Enjoy being taken care of by God. He delights in you as His beloved child. He smiles lovingly at you in your human struggles. Not in some patronizing way, but in a way that reflects divine understanding of us as His children. God is our perfectly loving and compassionate heavenly Father.
Satan does not want us to believe God’s promises to us. He does not want us to experience the joy of redemption that has been so graciously given to us. But Satan has no power when it comes to God:
The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned (Psalm 34:22). See, He redeems us down to our very soul! This can never be taken away! But the enemy will steal away your joy if you let him.
Condemnation and conviction are two completely different things. When you are being condemned by the enemy, nothing good comes from it. It is purely evil. In fact, feelings of condemnation typically lead to more sin, because we feel helpless to change~ and unworthy of being given anything good. We may believe we are hopeless in the eyes of the Lord. Perhaps we even believe God will eventually give up on us. We cannot allow the enemy to push us down. Satan wants us to keep believing that we are undeserving of God’s grace and forgiveness. The fact is we are! We are saved by grace! It has NOTHING to do with our worthiness. It has to do with God’s amazing love for us. We have nothing to live up to! It is us giving up our life and allowing God to live it for us! If you have feelings of condemnation in your life, they are never from the Lord, and always from the enemy. God’s truth from His Word will expose the lies of the enemy.
Conviction from the Lord on the other hand~ is a wonderful thing. The word may not feel wonderful because we may have negative connotations attached to it. We all know that guilty people are convicted of crimes~ that is if justice is done. And there is a punishment that follows. But this is not the way of the Lord with His beloved children. He wants to protect us from anything that will harm us in our lives. So He needs to lovingly get our attention. That is where the Holy Spirit comes in. This glorious gift from the Lord takes us well beyond the conscience that every human being is created with. God uses the Holy Spirit to make it known to us when we are about to sin, or to show us our sin if we have already taken that step. His entire motivation is love.
This is my experience of what it is like to be convicted by the Lord: When He convicts my heart about a sin or something else He knows is not good for me, it is a very strong feeling. I also feel this in my body. It is a feeling of His loving power in my heart that is opening my eyes to His truth. It is sometimes surprising and even shocking, but it ALWAYS, ALWAYS feels like love. It is SO very important to know deep inside the difference between condemnation and conviction. The enemy tries to mimic God, but the differences are actually like night and day. They are the difference between darkness and Light. Both the feelings of condemnation and conviction are intense. The enemy tries to confuse us between the two. Because we are feeling guilty about our wrong-doing (if our conscience is intact), the enemy tries to take advantage of these moments. For us, it can feel like a very fine line between being humiliated by the enemy and being humbled by the Lord.
This doesn’t mean it isn’t uncomfortable when God is convicting us. Once our eyes have been opened to see that we are in the midst of temptation, the thralls of sin, or the aftermath of our sinful behavior~ remorse sets in. We are then aware that we have once again been deceived by the enemy. As God lovingly shows us the truth, His grace humbles our hearts before Him in repentance. Inevitably for me, gratitude overwhelms me, because He loved me that much to save me from the grip of the enemy. The fact is that He has given us perfect boundaries to live within, and He helps us to stay inside of them. As you come to understand what God’s loving convictions are all about, you will feel very cared for. He is very protective of you. God watches out for you constantly and keeps you close to His side.
So what about shame? Do you ever feel shame when you sin or make a mistake? Well, shame and condemnation pretty much go hand in hand. But God has some specific things to say about shame. Just as there is no condemnation, there is no shame! Shame says that we must despise ourselves when we sin and that we deserve punishment as payment. When we are in this kind of state, it is also likely that we will feel that God and others must despise us as well. This is a deadly deception by the enemy.
Look at King Saul and Judas from the Bible. They obviously did not know the heart of God; the heart of Jesus. Instead of turning to God in their troubles, they were overtaken by the lies of the enemy~ condemning themselves to death by suicide. Shame is always a path of destruction. But we also see people like David and Paul who struggled with sin, yet clung to the Lord as He poured His grace into their hearts. They were humbled and embraced by God in their weakness. David and Paul are examples to us of God’s power to lift us up out of darkness into the Light. To give us the strength to carry on no matter what the enemy brings our way. That sin cannot keep us down when it is the Lord in whom we are placing our trust~ the One who builds our faith. David, Paul and many others we have the privilege of reading about in His Word were not deterred by on-going preoccupation with their sinful ways~ they looked to the Lord~ and there they found their hope and saw His glory.
Just as Jesus’ death on the cross freed us from condemnation~ He also freed us from shame!
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2). So see! It is shame Jesus despises~ NOT YOU!
God will never shame you. Shame always feels bad. Conviction from the Lord always feels good~ even with the challenge it brings for us to face sin. It is vital to also know what shame feels like. Shame will be felt somewhere in your body, like the pit of your stomach. It is a horrible feeling that quickly fogs the mind. Fear will likely accompany the shame~ and with feelings such as doom or dread. Satan wants us to feel exposed and humiliated. The enemy wants us to think that it is God shaming us. In turn we will hide our heads from Him, rather than looking up and crying out for His tender mercies. At the very crucial point where we will hear the voice of God or of the enemy~ Satan attempts to confuse us between guilt that helps us and shame that condemns us. If he is successful, we will feel justifiably judged.
This is the moment of truth! Unless the truth of the Lord overpowers the lies and the intensity of the feelings of shame, a destructive action will likely come about. This moment is a crossroads. We will either cling to the Lord or be tossed around by the enemy like a rag doll once again. God has the escape!
Shame is full of lies that actually draw us to sin further rather than experiencing victory over sin that God’s love and forgiveness provide. The enemy uses shame in our lives to keep us away from God and relationships He has given us. He wants us to stay stuck in a cycle of shame that leads to hopelessness and despair. So when I say shame is full of lies what does that mean?
We know that Satan is the father of lies. He is crafty, beguiling and all the other things the Word tells us he is. He isn’t going to be obvious unless he knows we have little discernment. So say you have committed a sin. There are no two ways about it. The enemy’s goal is not to help you to recognize sin so you will turn to God. He wants to condemn and shame you in your sin so you will stay away from God~ and to keep your life hidden from others as well. So where God says: My child you have sinned~ come to me in repentance and I will love and comfort you in your sorrow; the enemy disguises himself as God saying: Look at you! Look at what you have done! What makes you think you can go on sinning! You don’t deserve anything. I can’t even look at you. Can you see where the enemy must be dealt with!?
You have to decide if you are going to agree with God about who you are or with Satan’s lies. Here is the truth: You are always loved the same by God~ every second~ His love is unfailing and everlasting~ you are loved in the midst of your sin; NOTHING can separate you from His love; you are forgiven~ no matter what sin~ no matter how many times you have sinned~ no matter how many more times you will sin; you are redeemed~ it’s a ONE TIME THING; you are righteous and justified~ a position that never changes and that you cannot lose. You have nothing to be ashamed of~
If you have feelings of shame in your life, go to God and ask Him to free you from them. He will be faithful to take you through a process to do that very thing.
Here are some specifics of what this process with the Lord may look like. Each time the feeling of shame arises~ you will begin feeling awful about yourself. You may not recognize the Holy Spirit getting your attention at first, because you are so used to being steeped in shame as it brews inside of you. But persevere in prayer~ seeking His assurances that He will see you through these times. God will continue to help you recognize when shame is trying to get ahold of you. When you feel it, instantly turn to God no matter how you feel. Cry out in whatever way you need to so you will begin receiving His help. For me, one of the things I say to the Lord is like me as a little girl asking my Dad to protect me~ along the lines of: Lord! The enemy is trying to shame me! Please help me! Get him away from me! This is just one of my own personal ways I get connected with the Lord before the enemy can drag me down into darkness. No matter what you cry out, the point is you are turning to the One who can and will save you!
Some would say: Why doesn’t God just rescue me without me doing anything? He could. But once again, this is about a relationship with the Lord~ a process where we come to trust Him and depend upon Him. Also, He has always known our worth, but He wants us to really know our worth in Him. In addition, God is fighting for us~ but He also wants us to believe we are worth fighting for!
Once you have reached out to God in the midst of the shaming thoughts and feelings, you have stepped on the road to freedom! The Lord has heard your cries and will begin to bring healing to your life. He will guide and protect you every step of the way.
Most of us have had shame for many, many years. It is interesting because I have heard it described by many people the same way. It is like a big black gooey ball of yarn~ made of tar and stuck deep in the pit of the stomach. It may feel that way, or some other way to you~ but I think we can all agree it is a horrible, destructive oppression in our lives. Its’ simply got to go!
God knows every string on that black gooey ball of yarn. He knows where that string of shame began, and can trace it through all of the ways it has been hurting you all of these years. He knows how to help you. His love will loosen every layer and get it out into His Light of freedom and healing. There is something I must tell you. You do not gain freedom from shame by hiding away from anything or anyone that could evoke the shame inside. In fact, I don’t have any doubt that the Lord will allow many opportunities to feel and then face the shame that must come out. There will be many ways that the shame is tapped into. Sometimes it will be more intense than others, but shame is shame~ you need God in every instance.
One of the reasons most people don’t want to deal with the feeling of shame is fear of what will happen if they don’t stuff it back inside. Stuffing these feelings gives an illusion that the feeling has gone away. For example, say a person has food addiction. They look in the mirror and feel ashamed of their appearance. To be specific, they feel shamefully fat. What is this person likely to do to deal with the shame? Eat something very fattening~ stuffing the feelings back down. Isn’t that a very sad thing? It’s not a shameful thing~ it’s a sad thing because this person is suffering greatly, deep on the inside.
But when we turn to our merciful God who completely understands it all, He WILL overtake the enemy and overwhelm us with His love. Over time as shame dissipates into thin air, you will be able to see yourself as God does. You will be able to receive His grace and forgiveness. All the lies of the enemy will be exposed in the Light, and he will no longer be able to darken your heart again with shame!
God’s beauty will then be revealed in you. Nothing is getting in the way of His Light shining brightly through you. You will become a reflection of His beauty. You will feel wonderful about yourself. God’s love and grace will be seen in our eyes, in our smiles, and through our voices. You will feel wonderful about your life with God~ waking in His arms every day! He is your Bright Morning Star! Joy will fill your heart as you experience your new found freedom! There is no condemnation! There is no shame! You have been freed from the grip of the enemy. Bask in the warm comfort of God’s all-encompassing love~ and experience the certainty of His faithfulness as He cares for you!