For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things (1 John 3:20 KJV)
Scripture reveals a perplexing reality of our Christian walk: our hearts can condemn us, even when God has not condemned us. This self-condemnation is poison to our spiritual lives and relationship with God. In fact, a dose of self-condemnation can drain the joy out of our lives and stifle our zeal for His work.
Self-condemnation, like condemnation, takes place in two main steps. First, we assess ourselves against God’s standard, will, or desires and then conclude based on our self-evaluation. When we condemn ourselves, the conclusion is always that something is wrong with us, or God is not pleased with something, or we have done something against God’s ways. Please remember that self-condemnation is driven by us, not God.
Once we have assessed and determined that something is wrong with us, the next step is the pronouncement and execution of the sentence. In a court of law, the judge will declare the verdict—guilty or acquitted, and the consequences will follow; but in self-condemnation, we silently accept the results that follow anyone God condemns. It often begins with our emotions and spills over to our attitudes and actions. Self-condemnation produces fear, guilt, depression, and shame. And then we slowly find it hard to pray, praise, or commune with God. It is impossible to commune with God with a consciousness of self-condemnation.
Self-condemnation should be carefully distinguished from a hardened heart—someone the Spirit of God is convicting of sin, but they willingly suppress that conviction to continue whatever they are doing. In true conviction, the Spirit of God convicts us when we sin; but in self-condemnation, we convict and condemn ourselves in things that God is not condemning us.
The more sensitive your heart is to God, the more susceptible you will be to self-condemnation. Sometimes, Satan will use our good hearts—soft and tender towards God—to drag us to extremes where we become too sensitive and condemn ourselves.
Beware of a self-condemnation, and keep far from a hardened heart.
What is self-condemnation?
Apply the Word
Sometimes the best way to check self-condemnation is to talk to another believer. At other times, you will have to ask the Spirit to help you not fall into the snare of condemning yourself.
Ask the Father to help you not to condemn yourself.
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