Neither Do I Condemn You

1 11 2013

judgeCondemnation is a powerful thing. It is harsh and cold, passing down absolute judgement without any room for compromise. We fall prey to its clutches and become its servant, passing judgement on those that don’t measure up to standards. When the verdict is passed down condemnation’s bailiffs, guilt and shame, quickly take custody; taunting, berating, and reminding us of the infraction.

There’s a story that illustrates this point in just the right way. John chapter 8 begins with some people bringing a woman before Jesus that was caught in the act of adultery. Before your mind starts leaping ahead…this is not a post about adultery. It’s actually about Jesus’ statement to her accusers. The entire context of the story can be found in John 8.

I’m sure most of us have heard sermons on this topic and passage. It’s a familiar section of scripture. That’s not going to stop me from writing this post though. *grin* What I find most fascinating about this passage is Jesus instructions to her accusers. “…Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. (John 8:7 — NIV)” Interestingly enough Jesus only said this after writing something on the ground. After giving His instructions He continues writing.

Wait, what? She’s guilty! They didn’t hear about the adultery…she was in the middle of it. It is fact. “This woman is an adulterer and must be punished,” sneers condemnation. Jesus, however, thinks differently. He has a way of turning condemnation against itself.

We don’t know what was written but we see that it, combined with Jesus instructions, has an impact. One by one they started leaving. “…the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. (John 8:9 — NIV)” Here’s where it  gets really exciting. Jesus is the only one left. Per His instructions He could have started this entire process. He was sinless. No one could accuse Him of any wrong doing. The perfect, spotless One stood before this woman; totally qualified to carry out the judgment of God’s law.

Instead of doing that, however, He does something different — something He does throughout His ministry. “Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'(John 8:10-11 — NIV)” She knew she was guilty. Jesus knew she was guilty. The crowd knew she was guilty. Yet, instead of condemnation, Jesus offers grace and mercy.

love

There is a big difference between condemnation and correction. Condemnation works out of judgement and guilt. Correction works out of instruction and love. God loves us enough to instruct us…just like He did with this woman. He instructed her to leave her life of sin. He assured her that he was not going to judge her (buy throwing the first stone). He does the same for us. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,(Romand 8:1 — NIV)”

When condemnation sends its bailiffs after us, Christ steps in and begins to write on the ground. When they are sneering at us, reminding us of our failures, Jesus writes on the ground. When they are closing in, ready to pass judgement, Jesus writes on the ground. And one by one they walk away, dropping their stones of guilt, shame, and accusation. Jesus then looks at us and asks us the same question, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” The cool part about all of this is that we get to answer like this woman…”No one.” Not even the One qualified to carry out the judgement. “Then neither do I condemn you,” He lovingly replies to us.

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No More Excuses

15 10 2013

I got the following text from a friend of mine the other day. “I was wondering if you could give me some insight on a verse that I have been mulling over for a few days. John 5:6 the answer should be obvious to the crippled man. So my question is why did Jesus ask such an obvious question?” For your reference the verse reads, “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?'”

questionIf we look at the entire story we notice that this is the man who laid at the Pool of Bethesda. Historically the sick, lame, and all manner of those needing healing would sit and wait around the pool. When the water was ‘stirred’ the first to get in would be healed. This is where we pick the story up. What better place to do a miracle than at this place? There’s no shortage of people needing it. So why choose this particular man? Why ask this particular question? It should be obvious to anyone that he is there because he wants to be healed.

But Jesus never asks the obvious question for obvious reasons. John 5:6 tells us why Jesus chose this man. “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time…(emphasis added)” Now we’re getting somewhere. Time had passed and no progress had been made. He was there; he appeared to want to be healed. So why, after 38 years, had he not at least moved closer to the pool?

Ok…spiritual application time. How many times has Jesus asked us the same type of obvious questions? We come to Him and request something and His response is, “Do you really want this?” Well of course we do! But do we really? We ask Him to move when we have made no progress on working toward what we want or need. Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker puts it this way, “Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.”

The man’s response to Jesus’ question is interesting. “‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.'(John 5:7 — NIV)” There it is. The reason he hasn’t made any progress. He offered Jesus his excuse. “I want to but I can’t because…” As much as I hate to admit it I’ve done the same thing. “I want to do what You’re telling me, God, but I can’t.” I have offered what I thought were good reasons for not trusting or moving like He asked of me. In reality, though, they were just reasons to alleviate my guilt and shame.

It isn’t until the man admits his excuse that Jesus heals him. Once the real reason is revealed Jesus can now work. He got in the way of his own healing. His excuses cost him time; time that he could have enjoyed the blessings of God. Our excuses do the same thing to us. They hold us back from moving into the blessing and moving of God in our life. It is only when we face them and admit they’re there that Jesus can work in us like he needs to. Don’t let them hold you back any longer. Face the excuses, deal with them, and move into the blessing and moving of God in you. It’s where we all want to be…isn’t it?





Guilt and Regret — Not Friends of Mine

29 07 2013

I’m going to ask a question that I already know the answer to. But I’m going to ask it anyway. Has anyone ever messed up? I mean really, really bad? I thought so. We all have. So…how did that make you feel? Yeah, I know the answer to that one too. Not all that good, huh? It didn’t make me feel too great either.

Recently I made a mistake. That mistake had the potential to do some pretty big damage. Fortunately the people involved are loving, kind, and forgiving. But it still weighed on my mind and heart. How could I have done that? Why did I ignore the situation? Why didn’t I just take care of it earlier? Do any of these questions sound familiar? I would wager that they do. And they all have one thing in common. Guilt. We feel guilty for the mistakes that we make.

jail cellGuilt is an interesting thing. It easily locks us up in the prison of ‘If Only.’ If only I had made a different decision. If only I hadn’t done that one thing. It’s a lonely place…the prison of ‘If Only.’ And guilt never comes alone. It always brings a friend. “Let me introduce you to someone,” says guilt. “This is regret.” “Don’t you feel bad,” hisses regret. “You should have known better. But you can’t go back and change it.” And they go on and on making us feel worse and worse about the mistake we made. And we retreat deeper and deeper into the prison. Willingly walking through the halls into solitary confinement. And we shut the door ourselves.

But is there a way to avoid being imprisoned? There sure is! While it’s a hard thing to battle we must understand that guilt and regret can only work on us if we let them. We step into the cell. We stay in prison. I’m not saying that we need to ignore issues that need to be dealt with. But once they are…move on. It’s done and no good can come from beating ourselves up over past mistakes.

A reason that guilt and regret are so devastating in us is that they keep us from moving forward. They anchor us to past mistakes by making us relive them over and over. This causes us to stop being effective in life because our focus is now on something that we can’t change.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18 — NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 — NIV)”

If it’s done, understand that it’s done. We can’t change the mistake…we can only learn from it and move on. Life will be full of mistakes and missteps. But we don’t have to condemn ourselves for past mistakes. God doesn’t. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1 — NIV)”

So…if you’re an inmate imprisoned by guilt and regret for a past mistake, I challenge you to walk out of that cell. They can’t hold you there. And staying in jail only hurts you. It’s time to set yourself free. Your sentence has been overturned.

surrender








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