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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Not gonna give you the key!

All too often, we give into feelings of condemnation or the attempts to ridicule.  We find ourselves even doing this to ourselves, on occasion, pointing out our many flaws, devising ways to describe how "awful" we are because of a course of action we have taken.  I have to ask this - if God doesn't condemn us, what gives us the right to do it to another, or even ourselves?  Condemnation is really a form of expressing disapproval.  We may not do it in words, but our actions often speak louder than words.  Blame is associated with any condemnation passed down upon another, or even ourselves. We place blame for the "way" something is on someone, thinking assigning blame somehow makes it okay to point out the flaw in that individual's character.  I am trying to learn this lesson myself, but when we condemn self or others, we are really "sentencing" them - we are passing judgment. Since that job belongs to God and him alone, we don't have that role or right. Those who live under our condemnation (even when it is us living under our own) find themselves constantly trying to be free of that "sentence", much like a prisoner might want to file appeal after appeal hoping he may one day be free from the confines of his imprisonment. It is wise for us to learn to not come under condemnation in the first place - but also to learn not to be the instruments of that condemnation!

If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed... So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31, 34-35, 37-39 VOICE)

Since condemnation belongs to God alone, we might think it is just a matter of "mind over matter" to overcome this sense of being condemned by others or ourselves.  I am here to tell you it may not be all that simple!  We willingly succumb to some condemnation because we don't believe what God says about us - that we are his chosen, made right through the Son of God who gave his life on our behalf, and are a new creation (the old is gone, the new has come).  We see ourselves as others tell us we are - if they point out the faults, we take it all in.  To make matters worse, we often tell ourselves the same story and find the condemnation multiplied!  Yes, a mindset change is necessary - we have to learn to think of ourselves as God does.  Yet, we also need to learn to respond to condemnation (impractical, unfair, and sentencing actions or words) with a counter-attack of sorts if we are to reject these unwholesome thoughts and actions.  Thinking is one thing, believing it with your heart and allowing it to affect your actions is another.

The truth we need to learn:  Nothing (no thing) can separate us from the love of God.  Nothing (no thing) can come between us and victory in our lives.  That may seem like an over-simplified approach, but hear me out on this one.  When we finally begin to believe that truth, it dynamically changes our lives.  I may say those words over and over, but until they anchor in my heart and begin to affect my actions, they are just words - truth indeed, but not the foundation upon which I build my life.  IF nothing can separate us from God's love, then no stumble in our walk or compromising action on our part can interfere with how God sees us.  He sees us as inseparable from him - we have a heart connection which cannot be severed.  That said, to believe otherwise is to believe a lie.  IF nothing can come between us and victory, then no amount of falls can keep us down - we always have a means by which to get up again and start anew.  It is called grace!

Sometimes we need to tell ourselves something a whole lot of times before we even begin to latch hold of the matter we are considering.  I used to read out loud when I was studying in school.  Why?  I "heard" what I was studying, not just saw it with my eyes.  I found when I heard something, it took on a different meaning.  Those things which didn't make sense when I said them had to be repeated (re-read) until I got them.  Some of us would do well to repeat God's truth about how he sees us over and over until we actually began to see that truth as pertaining to us!  Nowhere in scripture does it say God's love is different for one or the other of us.  It is the same for all mankind.  We try to tell ourselves otherwise - that he couldn't possibly love us as much as he loves the other person we are considering right now.  Nope - not true!  His love extends to all mankind - his means of restoration is the same for all of mankind - his extension of grace when times of compromise come is the same regardless of how "badly" we fall - for ALL have sinned - ALL need a Savior - ALL need grace in measures far outside of our means to ever earn or achieve!

We may have to remind ourselves of these truths from time to time in order to move beyond condemnation.  Remember this - if God has pardoned our "sentence" through the blood of his Son, Jesus, then we are pardoned - no one can "lock us up" again!  When we give them (or ourselves) the key, they will find the cell which it fits and attempt to place us there behind those bars of condemnation.  If we don't hand them (or ourselves) the key in the first place, they will have a hard time getting us behind those bars!  Just sayin!