[Today’s devotion about letting go of self-condemnation is a part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday for fresh insights from God’s Word, or follow my blog via email or WordPress to have my content sent straight to your inbox.]
Read: Romans 7:13 – 8:2
Today’s Scripture: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, ESV).
The other night I had a slightly unsettling dream. In the dream, I was trying to communicate with someone, but whenever I spoke out loud, my words were jumbled. Frustration welled up within me because I was unable to do what I wanted to do.
Dreams are a common setting for these frustrating scenarios, but they occur in our waking hours as well.
If you’ve ever caught yourself doing something you didn’t want to do, you may have ended up frustrated with yourself. It’s even more disheartening when you find yourself repeating the same action a second time or a third time. You know it’s wrong, you don’t want to do it, yet you keep doing it.
At this point, you may get stuck in a cycle of self-condemnation.
Would you be surprised to know that the apostle Paul felt a similar way?
Near the end of Romans 7, Paul explained that he knew the good he wanted to do but kept practicing the evil he did not want to do (Romans 7:19). At one point he even exclaims “Wretched man that I am!” (v. 24) Even Paul, the author of half of the book of the New Testament, had a deeply upsetting struggle with sin.
Before you continue condemning yourself, consider what Paul is revealing here in this passage about the struggle with sin.
It’s the very fact that we don’t want to do these actions that shows us our mindset is in agreement with God’s law. In verse 16, Paul explains that if he does want he does not want, then he’s agreeing that God’s law is good. The passage goes on to reveal that it’s the battle with our sinful nature that is producing the evil we do not want to do.
This struggle with sin is troubling, and we may feel unable to pull ourselves out of it. Like Paul, we ask “Who will rescue me from this dying body?” (v. 24b, HCSB).
What’s Paul’s answer to his own question? He exclaims: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25).
The answer boils down to this: Because we know our sinful actions our wrong, we prove we are capable of living according to the Spirit. Living according to the Spirit means we are set free from the law of sin and death and no longer live in condemnation (Romans 8:1-2). This is all possible because of Jesus’ work on the cross (v. 3-4).
This does not mean we’ll never sin again. It means that we understand that our sinful actions are the work of our sinful nature, not our spiritual nature. We do these things we don’t want to do because we still live in this world cursed by sin, not because we are deliberately rebelling against God.
Sin is still wrong. We repent of what we need to repent of. We ask God to change the things in us that need to be changed. We seek forgiveness from those we hurt.
But we don’t have to keep condemning ourselves every time we fall short of God’s law.
Today’s Thoughts: Are you condemning yourself over a past failure, mistake, or sin? How does the apostle Paul’s struggle with sin resonate with you? Are you able to let go of that condemnation today?