Past Your Past

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
This past Sunday we kicked off a new sermon series teaching how to overcome condemnation. If you polled people, most would say they struggle from time to time with a form of condemnation called self-condemnation.

Self-condemnation is being unable to let go of a past sin and our anguish over something we did a long time ago—maybe in the recent past or the long-ago past. Or, it can mean being shaped by sins committed against us by other people. We can condemn ourselves and whatever the source, whether it was a sin we did or a sin committed against us, we see it showing up in situations like these.

I’m such a failure. 
I’m a terrible friend. 
I could never get involved in that organization or church because I have nothing to offer.

The remedy we hear today when we’re struggling with self-condemnation is that you just need to forgive yourself. That’s become very common. We read about it, we hear about it in Christian literature, it’s in both the secular and sacred world. We hear all the time that we need to forgive ourselves in order to get past something that’s gone wrong in our lives—either something we’ve done or that was done to us.

Paul encourages us that we need not fear condemnation because we can come to God as our loving, forgiving Father (Romans 8:15–16). Christians who live in shame and guilt over past failures are needlessly condemning themselves when they ought to be “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Fear can be paralyzing, “but perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). As Christians, we must understand that our justification is found in Christ alone—in His finished work on the cross—not in what we do or don’t do (Romans 3:28). Believers can find solace in the assurance that we have been adopted into God’s own family and have been made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Nothing can separate us “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39).

Our identity no longer consists of self-hatred, self-condemnation, or beating ourselves up like we don’t matter. Instead, the Gospel provides hope, healing, and deliverance from feelings of self-condemnation.

Paul opens Romans with a frank discussion on the reality of sin. He continues to show that our morality does not save us and explains the extent of our depravity. And finally, at the very end of Romans 3:26, he says, “It was to show his righteousness at the present time so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Paul knows that man left to his own devices will always continue on in sin. He also knows that only the Gospel can provide hope.
In Romans 4-5, Paul explains the idea of justification, which means because Jesus, who was innocent and sinless in every way, plead guilty in our place, we can be forgiven and declared not guilty. Paul teaches about our new identity in Romans 6-7, and how we still have indwelling sin as Christians.

After going deep into the heart of Christian theology, explaining the sinfulness of man, justification, our new relationship with God, and how we can grow in communion with God, Paul opens Romans 8 with an interesting phrase and the focus of this article, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Whenever Paul uses the word “therefore,” you should take note. He is about to say something very important.

Take a minute and think about what Paul is saying here. He has just talked about the sinfulness of man, justification, our new identity, and the reality of indwelling sin. Now he says those who have union with Christ now have communion with Christ—there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

In Sunday's message, I shared 3 practical ways to overcome condemnation. In today's blog, I want to give you 3 more practical ways you can overcome self-condemnation:

Go to the Word when you feel self-condemnation. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate His Word to you. Regularly dive into the Word of God and begin devouring the feast prepared before you in His Word.

Take time daily to pray. Don’t just say a few quick prayers. Linger long in prayer. Listen to worship music. Take time to stoke the fires of your new affections. The feelings of self-condemnation cannot stand a chance against your new affections being stirred afresh for the glory of God.

Plead guilty to self-condemnation the next time you feel it. There is hope and freedom in the Gospel. Find some good godly friends to share openly with about your struggles. Instead of beating yourself up, think about how Jesus took the punishment you deserve in your place and for your sin. Rehearse the Gospel to yourself. Stop repeating the same story about how much of a “loser” you are, how defeated you are, or how messed up you are. Instead, proclaim the triumph, victory, and exaltation of our great God and King—the Lord Jesus—who reigns in and over all.

As you do this, you’ll begin to replace those feelings of self-condemnation with new thoughts about Christ and the glory He calls you into. You’ll begin to think of how in Christ, you are approved by God to be a worker for Him, instead of defeated and a loser. Because of Christ, you are His friend and a servant. I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, there’s hope and freedom there; not to mention it’s also the power of God in the Gospel.

This is where we need to go—back to the Gospel. We need to return to our first love in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ name gives hope for strugglers. There is hope and healing for those who feel self-condemned, but only Jesus can provide it.

If you missed Sunday's message, you can watch it on demand below.

I love you like crazy,

Pastor Justin Mitchell

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