Summary: How to recover from a condemning heart
1 John 3:19-24 November 26, 2006
Parable of Pharisee and Tax-Collector – Luke 18:9-14
– there must be something other than either arrogance before God, or a feeling of worthlessness. 1 John 3:19 says “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence…”
Doesn’t that sound good? “Hearts at rest in his presence.” John introduces the passage with a promise that I think that we would all want “Hearts at rest in the presence of God.”
If our hearts condemn us…
Does your heart condemn you? I think that many of our hearts do – we have this interior dialogue that tells ourselves that we are not worth anything, or we feel this great shame that will not go away. When we make a mistake we beat ourselves up about it for weeks. We don’t concentrate on the mistake that needs to be fixed, but on our own character being the kind that makes such mistakes. We constantly tell ourselves that we are a screw-up, a nobody… It can either Shut us down so that we a paralyzed by our own condemnation, or we try to work our way out of it, hoping that one day we will prove ourselves good enough not to condemn ourselves.
Is that you? The good news that John gives us is that “God is bigger than our hearts.”
No matter how worthless we think we are, God say to us that we are of such great worth that we are worth dying for, we are worth sending his Son to die for! God wants us with him so much that he takes us and cleans us up and in his sight, no matter what we have done in our lives, we are clean and pure, his perfect child.
He pulls rank on us – our hearts condemn us, and he does not, and he says “who are you going to believe, your heart, or the God that created you?”
When I have an argument with my kids, and they are just not believing me, I say “How long have I been alive? You might think I’ve learned a few things in that time!” John says the same thing God overrules your hearts because he knows everything – he even knows about that thing that you are condemning yourself over & and He still says, you are my chosen child, you are of the greatest worth to me.
Jean Valjean – I order you to forgive yourself.
What a wonderful thing – even if our hearts condemn us, God says, “I don’t care what your heart says, I don’t condemn you, I accept you and love you.”
What do we do with a condemning heart?
You might say to me, but doesn’t the Holy Spirit convict us of sin? How do we distinguish between a condemning heart and the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
Condemnation vs. conviction
The Holy Spirit does convict us of sin in our lives, but he always does so as a way to bring us back in line with God. His conviction is always over a particular behavior that we can deal with by confessing and repenting. On the other hand, our heart, or the devil can give us condemning thoughts that are a vague feeling of guilt or shame not necessarily connected to a behavior that we can correct. The conviction of the Spirit leads us back top God, the condemnation of our heart draws us away from God.
So if we experience conviction, we should do something about it – we should confess our sin and stop the behavior that the Spirit is convicting us of. If we experience condemnation, we should tell our hearts (or the devil) that we have nothing to be condemned for since Jesus has cleaned us up and forgiven all our sins.
Paul experienced the judgment or the condemnation of many people in his ministry; this is how he responded to one group that was placing their judgments on him:
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
If we are going to teach out hearts not to condemn us, we need to stop judging even ourselves and allow only God to judge us – he is faithful & he is just – he will tell us what needs to change in our life, not because we are worthless, but because we are of great worth to him.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering.