"Neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared.
"Go now and leave your life of sin."
- John 8:11 NIV
If you've ever struggled with guilt and condemnation as I have, the above verse is for you as much as it is for me. The apostle John records that when a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus, instead of condemning her, He forgave her. During Biblical times, according to Jewish law, people were stoned to death for this sin, so the Master's act of forgiveness here is truly remarkable. This passage should be a great comfort to all of us who have suffered the torment of guilt and condemnation after we've sinned. Jesus said, "Whoever believes in [Me] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:18) And in John 5:24, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." These two statements make it clear that because we made the decision to put our faith in Christ and accept Him as our personal savior, we will escape God's judgment and condemnation. We are not condemned because Jesus was condemned on our behalf on the cross. The apostle Paul states this in Romans 8:1 when he writes, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
One thing we have to keep reminding ourselves is that God does not condemn the believer. While He gives us His Holy Spirit, whose job it is to convict us of sin so that we'll confess it and repent of it, the truth is that condemnation comes from Satan. In fact, the name "Satan" means "Accuser." Making the believer feel condemned is the devil's job, and he's very good at it. He knows that if he can make us feel condemned every time we falter, he can cause us to feel so hopeless and helpless that we'll never be able to live the victorious, fruitful life that Christ died to give us. Satan also wants to keep us feeling condemned because he knows it will make God seem distant from us, and this is one of his greatest deceptions. Yes, it should grieve our hearts when we sin, because sin grieves the heart of God. But the Lord doesn't want us wallowing in guilt and self-pity; He wants us to confess our sin, receive His forgiveness, ask for His help to overcome the sin, and then move on. Unlike confession and repentance, which are healing and constructive, condemnation immobilizes us and stunts our spiritual growth. It steals our joy and, therefore, our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) The Bible says that we should put on the whole armor of God each day so we can withstand the enemy's attacks. (Ephesians 6:14-17) This includes the breastplate of righteousness (which the Living Bible calls "the breastplate of God's approval") and the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Jesus defeated Satan with the written Word of God (Luke 4:1-13) and we must do the same. But we have to have a working knowledge of the Scriptures to do that. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You." The more we study and meditate on God's Word, the more we will be able to resist sin and overcome Satan. The next time the devil tries to assail you with guilt and condemnation, remind him that you are the righteousness of God in Christ (5:21), and the greater One lives in you (1 John 4:4)--and claim the victory that Jesus won for you! (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Prayer: Lord, teach me to stand against the attacks of the enemy by continually acknowledging who I am in Christ, and acting accordingly. Give me a love for Your Word so that I'll study and meditate on it till it gets deep in my heart and makes me a doer of the Word. When I do sin, help me to be quick to confess and repent, and remind me of Your promise to forgive and cleanse me. (1 John 1:9) Thank You that my faith in Christ saves me from condemnation!
- J. M. Farro