Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)
What a strong declaration! Before we were in Christ, we lived under a sentence of condemnation. If the evidence were presented in court the verdict would be: guilty.
But thanks to the atoning work of Christ that sentence is vacated. Unequivocally and totally. Can’t be undone!
But here’s a problem: what happens if you do feel condemned anyway?
We have an enemy who often attacks us with an overall generalized unlimited sense of condemnation, wanting us to feel like a piece of filth. These allegations come fast and furious in an overwhelming crescendo. The tone is harsh, accusatory, unloving and unkind. Not too long ago I endured a day filled with such a blistering attack.
The nasty voice tells you: Think of when you did ___________ and ________ and ________. It goes on and on. These blanks are tailored to whatever it is you feel the guiltiest about. Then the accusing enemy says: “How dare you think you are forgiven for those ???How can you even call yourself a Christian?? You disgusting creep.”
Thankfully, I had help recovering from the vicious onslaught and regaining a restful heart.
Consider 1 John 3:19-21: This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
First, I saw how “If our hearts condemn us” does not contradict “no condemnation.” Here’s why:
The condemnation we are freed from in Romans 8:1 is the eternal the doom of hell. We have been set free from that and given eternal life.
But even as Christians, there are ways we still can offend God. We are then temporarily guilty. So, our hearts condemn us means there is a specific offense to which God is drawing attention. This is quite different from the bogus shotgun blast that comes from our enemy…of us being a worthless unforgivable piece of garbage.
There is a much better truthful exchange that God offers. An example:
God: You are harboring a real bitter & nasty & unforgiving attitude towards ___________.
Me: Yes, I am. I repent. Forgive me.
God: Christ already paid the penalty for that. You are forgiven.
Being led to this genuine repentance leads to something sweet. After I repent, my heart stops condemning me and my rest and confidence before God are restored. What a freedom repentance brings! With my heart again at rest, I return to the joy of living in freedom and forgiveness. There is no condemnation!