Posts Tagged ‘condemnation’

Prayer and God’s Forgiveness

March 7th, 2014

“Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive . .” Matthew 6:12 TEV.

For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s forgiveness.”

Thus far in our study of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we have examined, “The Pattern and Practice of Prayer,” “Prayer and God’s Sovereignty,” “Prayer and God’s Kingdom,” and “Prayer and God’s Providence.” Prayer also involves the practice of receiving and extending forgiveness.

Living without forgiveness results in soul-damaging condemnation, a heavy burden you were never meant to bear. Who has not needed to be forgiven by God and man? The Bible is clear; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” See Romans 3:23-26 NKJV. This truth offers bad news and good. We all need to be forgiven; we all need to forgive. See Mark 11:25 NIV.

Here’s how the process works: conviction of sin, confession of sin, cleansing from sin, or condemnation due to sin. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” See 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV. Be warned. If confession is not made, the Accuser imposes condemnation which worsens as confession is delayed. David suffered greatly when he failed to deal with his sin. His testimony is: “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable . . Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me . . Create in me a pure heart, O God.”  Psalm 32:1-5/51:1-4/10-12 NIV.

In Jesus’ model prayer, He taught, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.’” Matthew 6:12 TEV. The word, “wrongs,” is correctly and variously translated as, “debts or sins.” Elaborating further on His words, Jesus said specifically, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt 6:14-15 NIV. Whether described as debts, sins, or wrongdoing, they come large and small.

Forgiving is neither optional nor easy, but is essential for spiritual health and growth. The measure and nature of your treatment of others determine what comes back to you – from others and from God. “Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. If you give, you will receive. [What you give] will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:37-38 NLT. Let me simplify Jesus’ words, “For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.” Unforgiveness of others is an unkindness you impose on yourself. Read Matthew 18:22-35 NIV.

The ability to forgive others flows from your experience of lavish, unmerited forgiveness from God. “In Him we have . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 1:7-8/4:32 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace and extend God’s forgiveness.

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Condemnation and Conviction

December 19th, 2013

Whenever our hearts condemn us . . God is greater than our hearts.1 John 3:20 NIV.

Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “condemnation and conviction.”

There are times when you will behave badly. A sadness of heart results, maybe even degrees of shame. You try to ignore it, but an internal uneasiness makes that difficult. The real issue is not that you failed to measure up to others’ criteria; the sadness or shame you feel is rooted in a diminished expectation of yourself.

That recognition is a good sign of a healthy, God-given sensitivity, “[demonstrating] that God’s law is written within their hearts, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right.” Romans 2:14-15 NLT/NKJV. What is more important than to know right from wrong? God does not leave such to personal interpretation. Read James 4:17 NIV.

The Holy Spirit, who is within you, is grieved when you violate your innate knowledge of right and wrong. Yet that is an experience common to all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NKJV. The Spirit is God’s gift, and arbiter of the Word of God as well as the Law of God, written on your heart and expressed in your conscience. See also Acts 24:16 NKJV.

Paul admonished the Christ-followers at Ephesus, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NKJV. Those who continually disregard the pleadings of the Holy Spirit risk what the Bible describes as, “having their conscience seared [as] with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV. To a stubborn heart wrong appears right and right seems wrong. Believe me; that is not a place you want to find yourself. John 3:19-20 NKJV.

Ignoring the discomfort within yourself or refusing the pleadings of the gentle Holy Spirit who comes to “convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness” (See John 16:8 NKJV),you will feel guilt and its resultant shame. Be advised of the distinction you must understand between condemnation and conviction.

The Bible is clear, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-2 NKJV. God convicts; the devil condemns. They can feel similar, almost indistinguishable, though they are not alike at all. The difference is in their intent and result, not in the regret or emotions you feel.

(10) Examine the intent. Without equivocation, I assure you God did not send His Son to condemn you; He came to save you! The Bible declares, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 NKJV. Whereas, the devil is described as, “the accuser.” Revelation 12:10 NKJV. He wishes only your harm. See John 10:10 NIV.

(2) Consider the results. “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the One who died for us and was raised to life for us . .nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . .” Romans 8:33-39 NLT. Conviction offers restoration; condemnation threatens separation. “This then is how we . . set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20 NIV. Conviction creates repentance; condemnation only produces impotent regret . . but “God is greater than our hearts . .”

My prayer for you today is that you heart remains at rest before God.

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Refining and Purifying

January 31st, 2012

“God is like a refiner’s fire and launderer’s soap . . as a refiner and purifier.” Malachi 3:2 NKJV

“Sin devalues the soul and diminishes your God-given design and potential.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “refining and purifying.”

The simple reality is that none of us is all we should and could be, apart from the grace and mercies of God. You know the drill – words you wish you had left unsaid, behavior you regret, grudges too long unforgiven, relationships strained and unrestored, and obedience to God delayed. God loves you the way you are, but also loves you too much to leave you the way as you were. The good news is that God loves you too much to leave you less than you could be.

The prophet, Malachi, encourages Israel with this understanding of their God, and ours, “For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier . . that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3 NKJV. What a faithful, loving God. And His purpose is not merely to expose your sin, but to separate it from you that you may be “to the Lord an offering of righteousness.”

The process of refining removes impurities that diminish value and reduce usefulness. We are all a sad mixture of motives and behaviors. What a wondrous picture of the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in hearts and lives. Listen to Jesus’ words about the Spirit’s work, “When the Comforter comes, He will reprove/convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:8 NIV. Sin devalues the soul and diminishes your God-given design and potential. “And I will . . refine them like silver and test them like gold.  They will call on My name and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people.’ And they will say ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zechariah 13:9 NIV.

The process of laundering cleanses what has defiled and restores original condition. “Therefore, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV. Maybe you could accomplish that to some extent as regards external things, such as outward practices of conversation or conduct; but can you successfully cleanse internal things, tendencies and vulnerabilities resident within your spirit? Read Psalm 51:1-12 NIV.

“Christ loved the Church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s Word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious Church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, the Church will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT. Nothing and no one else promises new life like Jesus does. How does God accomplish this cleansing of body, soul, and spirit? “The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” Read 1 John 1:7-9 NKJV.

People too easily confuse condemnation and conviction. Neither condemnation nor conviction feels good when happening, but they are not at all alike. Condemnation comes from your Adversary and yourself, pushing you away from the only One who can help you and leaving you feeling all the more guilty and unworthy. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit within you as He draws you back toward God, with assurance of salvation and provides your only means for cleansing the soul and restoring unhindered fellowship. Read Romans 8:1-4 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you trust God’s purpose and process to refine and purify your heart.

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Belonging and Blessings

January 18th, 2012

“There is no condemnation to those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 NLT

“The emptiness you try to fill with others’ company is a misdirected reach of your heart for God.”

My thoughts today are about “belonging and blessings.”

Everyone wants to belong somewhere and to someone. People were not made for isolation; by our Creator, you were designed for community, with God and with others. People love to belong to groups – book clubs, health clubs, fan clubs, business circles, civic groups, service organizations, charities, Bible studies, churches, and nameless others. Who could count the number of affinity groups worldwide of every stripe and kind, small and large circles of people who share a common interest? A person’s interests are encouraged and reinforced by their common experience and shared enjoyment with others. Who would enjoy sitting in an empty stadium to watch their favorite sports team if there were no others to share their enthusiasm? What team would enjoy playing with no one watching? Some experiences just aren’t the same without someone to share them. Good news never seems the same if you have no one with whom to share your joy.

Man’s history began with God’s pronouncement, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him,” and later the Bible adds, “God sets the solitary in families.” Genesis 2:18/Psalm 68:6 NKJV. That longing to be joined meaningfully with others is really the outward expression of a person’s heart to experience personal fellowship with God. The emptiness of soul you try to fill with others’ company is the misdirected reach of your heart for God.

The problem? As we were, you and I are incompatible with God. Since God does not change, you must if you are to enjoy a meaningful, personal relationship with a holy God. But how does any of us change our nature? God’s solution? The very things that would separate you from God have been removed by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for every wrong and evil thing you’ve ever done. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ, (who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit/NKJV). For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2 NLT. For those belonging to Christ, no condemnation! You can be assured of this, “The Lord knows those who are His.” 2 Timothy 2:19 NIV.

Condemnation is that miserable feeling inside that everything is not right with God; His forgiveness and your faith is the only remedy. “If we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from every sin . . if we confess our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.” 1 John 1:7/9 NLT. Upon the truths of forgiveness and grace, your comfort and confidence as a child of God rests.

With this powerful announcement, the Apostle Paul sums up the guaranteed result of a life that truly belongs to Christ, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life . . nor things present nor things to come . .  nor any other created thing, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV/NLT. Here’s the key to your release into that glorious truth. The certainty of God’s love now and forever rests in the heart that holds the firm conviction of the sufficiency of God’s grace. No condemnation; no separation!

My prayer for you today is that you live in God’s love, ever secure in His grace.

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