Posts Tagged ‘condemnation’

Sometimes, I don’t know how to pray, not for myself or for anyone else. But there is this promise that the Spirit within knows exactly how to intercede. That is a great comfort to me.

Romans 8:26b
. . . We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

I did not realize until I meditated on these verses (Romans 8:26-28) that the Spirit within is not just praying or interceding on my behalf, but praying in a particular way: according to God’s will.

Mike and I used to joke around a lot about a teaching we once heard by a Jamaican/English minister from Florida, Peter Lord, long since off the scene. This particular teaching was called “How to … ‘ah’ … hear … ‘ah’ … God’s voice.” The message was good, but his delivery always cracked us up. This was all the rage back then: trying to ‘ah’ hear God’s voice.

But now I understand that I don’t have to struggle to hear God’s voice in order to be led in the right direction. The Holy Spirit, always with me, is already lined up with God’s will and praying for me. I may not understand the words. I may not understand the sounds, the whispers, the groaning, but I can be confident in the intent.

I think the harsh voice of condemnation has tried to bend my Christian journey into something far more grueling than necessary. I keep forgetting the promised “lighter yoke” [Matthew 11:30].

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The voice of condemnation is one of the most debilitating inner monologues a person might endure. From accusation to disapproval to contempt and reproach, the effect of this voice is like a nail head pounded by a persistent hammer. This isn’t how God speaks.

Romans 8:1a
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

I used to think this voice was my conscience speaking. Not so. Condemnation is straight from the pit of hell and I learned it the hard way.

Condemnation speaks through some of the most unsuspecting ways like perfectionism and accidental human error and lack of knowledge.

Where grace would abound, condemnation vied for greater attention.

Every mistake I made would get exaggerated in the retelling within. Every thoughtless word I said or was said to me was repeated a million times in my head. Every criticism (kind or otherwise) was blown out of proportion.

I became bound by this persistent voice.

How did I get set free? Confession. Truth telling in prayer. An open heart. Grace. Forgiveness. Faith.

All of these intertwined and became my safety net, my inner audio filter. This the Spirit did for me . . . does for me still. Thanks be to God.

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I’m really hard on myself. I mean, I can really give myself a pretty brutal lashing for mistakes I’ve made or wrong decisions or bad behavior. It was not until a few years ago that I realized how much of this self-attack is a type of condemnation.

While working through our Having a Mary Heart in Martha World study, we came across this quote which is quite apropos, in which the “enemy” tries to convinces us, before we become followers of Christ, that we don’t need a savior, and then after we commit to Him, the littany changes and the script we hear in our heads is that we do not “deserve” a savior. All, not true!

Instead of spending a lot of time rummaging through our sins, I think it’s more productive to put some energy into reviewing the times that went right. When was God present? When did we respond to His call? When did we stay the course despite obstacles? Let us be encouraged by our own histories. These very stories may help us as we face the next challenge.

The elements we have learned about from II Peter 1:3-11 over these past weeks grow stronger with use and practice: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control and now perseverance. “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” II Tim 1:12b

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