Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.—Romans 8:1
I should have known better,” Cindy cried out to me. “All the signs were there that he wasn’t the man for me.” She had gone through two years of a painful marriage, of verbal and finally physical abuse. Then her husband left her for another woman. Now she felt doubly condemned—condemned for marrying him in the first place and condemned that she couldn’t hold the marriage together.
“If I had been a good Christian, I could have changed him,” she moaned.
I could have confronted her and said, “Yes, you did see the signs and you ignored them. You opened yourself up to this kind of treatment.” I didn’t say those words and wouldn’t. They would not have helped Cindy.
What she needed right then was for me to stretch out my hand and comfort her. She was so self-condemned that she finally asked, “Will God forgive me?”
At first, her words disturbed me. The Bible is clear that God forgives any sin. Cindy knew the Bible, so her question wasn’t due to a lack of knowledge; it was due to a lack of faith in a loving, caring God. She felt so dejected, and she didn’t know if God loved her enough to forgive her.
I assured Cindy of God’s forgiveness, but that wasn’t the real issue that troubled her. Satan had whispered in her mind for such a long time that she had failed God, that she had deliberately disobeyed, and that God was angry with her.
The devil tries to stop us every chance he gets. I often use the analogy of a baby learning to walk. We don’t expect that baby to stand the first day and walk across the room like an adult. Those little ones will fall often. Sometimes they cry, but they always get back up. That may be some inborn quality, but I suspect it’s because the parents are there saying, “You can do it. Come on, baby, get up and walk.”
The scene is much the same in the spiritual world. All of us fall, but when we’re encouraged, we get back up and try again. If we’re not encouraged, we tend to stay down, or at least wait a long, long time before trying to get up again.
Never underestimate Satan’s relentlessness. He will do whatever he can to trip you, and then make you feel so condemned that you won’t want to get up again. He knows that his control is finished once you choose right thoughts and reject wrong ones. He wants to hinder you from clear thinking. He will attempt to thwart you through discouragement and condemnation.
I want to tell you what Cindy did. She wrote Romans 8:1 on three 3×5 file cards and pasted one on her mirror, one on her computer, and one on her dashboard. Every time she looks at the verse, she repeats it aloud. Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
The Message puts Romans 8:1-2 like this: With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
We are free in Jesus Christ, and we don’t have to listen to Satan’s condemnation. When we fail—and we will—that doesn’t mean we are failures. It means we failed one time in one thing. It means we didn’t do everything right. That doesn’t make us a failure.
“Just let Christ be strong in your weaknesses; let Him be your strength on your weak days.”
Lord Jesus Christ, in Your name I pray for victory. When I fail, please remind me not only that You forgive, but that You also wipe away the guilt and condemnation. Please accept my gratitude. Amen.