I have a younger brother who I adore. I remember the day that he was sentenced for some crimes that he never thought that he would get caught committing; he was young, carefree and thought that he ruled the world, but the world was ruling him. On his sentencing day when I heard the judge bang the gavel, and I watched the bailiff lead him out of the side door my heart broke. He looked back and winked at me as if to say, “it will be OK” but I wasn’t convinced. I visited him before he was transported to the prison and my heart broke again as the guard led him in wearing both hand and ankle cuffs with chains. Several years later I took my family to the prison on the day of his release and when he walked out of those iron bars I felt his freedom for him. He was free! We were all ecstatic for him, we walked out of those gates and never looked back. Except my brother, he was free…yet he wasn’t free…
I was discussing my life with my eldest son a few days back, and he seemed shocked at some of the things that I had done in my lifetime; I wasn’t an angel by any stretch of the imagination though I know that will shock some of you (smile); so when I make the statement that Christ set me free, I really mean it. I did not look back, I did my best to try not to go back, and even on the most trying days when I was at my weakest I sometimes yelled out for the Lord to help me hold on, because the chains that I had been held in were so tight. Many of you are probably in the same predicament. You have done something, gone somewhere or behaved in some unseemly manner and now you are living in regret, not knowing how to free yourself from the guilt or shame of it and you probably feel as if you will never be able to get back to God. Take a look at this image:
Does this photo describe your life right now? Have you gotten to the point where you feel like an old abandoned building, vacated of all life and locked off from God, and anyone who dares to “trespass” in your life has a severe penalty to pay? While you may not look worn down and raggedy on the outside, if we were to look on this inside is this what we would see? These are rhetorical questions of course, but dealing with self-condemnation can be like a debilitating disease, one that can take you so far from God that it can cause you to think that you are too unworthy to reach out to Him for help.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. – Romans 8:1
Such a familiar scripture, so easy to forget. Jesus came to set us free from everything, not just the “big sins”, if there is such a thing, but also those small, dark secrets that we hold in our hearts. The things that eat us up and make us feel worthless to the Kingdom are the very things that Satan plants in our spirit to hold us back and keep us from sharing the good news of the Gospel. I have met so many people over the last couple of months, people that I know God set in my path for a purpose, people who are struggling and suffering with condemnation issues; people who are afraid to cry out to God because they feel unworthy. The enemy has planted a spirit of condemnation on God’s people because he sees how little time he has left to wreak havoc. Every day more individual’s eyes are being opened to the truth of the Gospel, so Satan has cleverly launched this new tactic… ‘make them feel justifiably unworthy’. He will also use other people in his mission, your extended family, your friends, your children and yes, even your spouse. How?
- “This never would have happened if you ___________”.
- “If he/she really loved you they would _____________”.
- “I will never stop ____________ so I may as well give up trying to be saved”.
- “Huh, and you call yourself a Christian”, or “You’re supposed to be saved”.
- “It’s too late for me. I don’t even think God listens to me anymore”.
- “It’s just not worth it. I keep slipping”.
- “If I don’t change God will never accept me.”
I am definitely not trying to lecture because this is a place that I’ve been myself, so if you see yourself in any of this please know that it is in God’s will for you right now. He wants to set us free before it’s too late. The world is watching us, waiting for us to slip so that they can point the finger of condemnation at us and place us right back into those chains. I asked myself a question, “why did you give your life to Christ in the first place?” My answer was because I was miserable, I thought that I was treading water and my arms were too tired to keep me afloat; it was at that point that I called upon the Lord and He answered me. Why now would the same life preserver be cast aside because I cannot forgive myself for past mistakes? Why hold onto things that have no eternal value? Why not look in the mirror and say, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me”? John 10:10 says that “the thief cometh not but for to steal, kill and destroy…”, and it is easy to forget that after the semicolon Jesus also adds, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. It is time to take back the power that Jesus gave us, and that satan subtly stole away from us. Just as he deceived Eve in the garden, he has also deceived us; have you become flippant in regards to your service to Christ? Have the things of God which used to take precedence in your life become afterthoughts? Have you thought, “I’ll get to it” or “It doesn’t matter”? Those are the subtle ways that the enemy has slithered in and derailed you.
Let me encourage you. Jesus is still here for us. Still available. Still forgiving. Full of mercy and grace.His last words on the cross are still the standard that we should carry from day to day. If you have something in your life that keeps you in constant self-condemnation, let it go. Forgive yourself and allow Jesus to heal those self-inflicted wounds that you carry, and break the chains of condemnation that have many of us spiritually shackled. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).