Condemnation. What is it really?
Condemnation involves shame, stripping one of value, considering them worthy of punishment.
When I feel a sense of condemnation, where is it really coming from?
I often assume that God is the one condemning me, but that cannot be true because of what He has said. However, that does not prevent me from still feeling that in my heart.
But if it really is not coming from God, then what other sources might be producing this very troubling feeling?
Sometimes I feel condemned by others. That can be a source of these feelings. However again, condemnation is a feeling inside of me and no one can really make me feel something. Feelings always originate from something I believe myself. So if others are the source of my feelings of condemnation then it reveals that I am believing something in myself about what others are saying or doing that reacts inside of me to create this feeling.
Also, if others are the source of my condemnation then to the extent I allow others to determine my value and worth will determine the intensity inside of me. Others cannot strip me of value unless I am depending on them to be a source of my sense of value. If others can remove my sense of value from me then it betrays the fact that I was depending on them to get it in the first place.
Another source of condemnation is my own heart. It is not unusual for my own heart to make me feel worthless and full of shame. But again, when I feel condemned by my own evaluation of myself I am at odds with what God says and feels toward me, so it must be that I am believing a lie about myself.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Does it follow that anytime I feel condemnation that I am no longer in Christ Jesus and I am lost?
Not really. But it is an indicator that some part of my thinking, some part of my self-perception is not yet in agreement with God's view of me. Some part of me is still clinging to lies about myself in contradiction to the declarations of Jesus about my true value and worth.
Condemnation can be so familiar to me that when I don't feel it I may not feel right. Its a strange dichotomy that discomfort can be our 'normal' and when we get too far from it we feel compelled to return to the familiar discomfort of condemnation to feel normal again. I know, I spent most of my life living under condemnation and it became the 'normal' for me as it is for so many others.
Because of this my feelings were a very unreliable indicator of whether I was right with God or was living in Christ Jesus or not.
The peace that God brings to the heart passes all understanding and the love that He brings expels fear which is the power behind condemnation. Too many times if we go for awhile without feeling condemned we may subconsciously begin to look for something to feel guilty about so we can return to our familiar zone instead of remaining in the new state of freedom that is unfamiliar to us for awhile in Christ Jesus.
I may have a hidden notion that feeling guilty may have some sort of merit connected with it that will impress God. I have found myself in prayer sessions or in altar calls where an intense appeal is made for people to confess their sins, their unbelief or their distance from God and I could not relate honestly with what was being described. Yet at that point I felt tempted to wonder if I was maybe hardened, that I was not sincere like those who were responding around me. Yes I was aware of my weaknesses and past failures, but at the time I was enjoying peace, that I was not running away from God, that I was in fact on good terms with Him and that the call was not necessarily meant for me at that time. But my mind often tries to scold me in those times and accuse me of being a hypocrite because, of course, everyone has sin to confess and no one is perfect so I must be holding out against God.
This is a classic case of my own heart trying to condemn me when God has assured me otherwise. My own heart is nowhere near as reliable to have the truth about my relationship with God as the Word of God is so I need to learn to believe God more than my own heart. That is not to suggest I should live in denial of the true condition of my heart or avoid my need to keep on examining it or responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. But I believe that I must recognize that sometimes condemnation is a symptom of a false belief pestering me from the inside, because God is not in the business of creating condemnation.
And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:19-22 NRSV)