The Source of Condemnation
Subjects such as continuance in faith, discipleship and the lordship of Jesus are shunned today by a great number of ministers as well as laypeople. But when Jesus came into our world He brought two equally significant messages:
- His love carried no condemnation
For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. —John 3:17
- His love did carry expectations
If you love Me, you will keep my commandments… He who has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me… —John 14:15,21 (NASB)
The Bible tells us that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it—to save it from those very things that were condemning it. He came to shed light in the darkness so that men, with His assistance, could view their dangerous activity. It is wonderful for the truth seeker because he will gravitate toward the light; it is dangerous because the lover of darkness will seek to put it out.
And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he whoa practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. —John 3:19-21 (NASB)
In Jesus’ mission to redeem humankind, His ultimate aim was to win us back into relationship. He called all to follow Him, wanting us to emulate who it was we followed. He desired to be with the ones He loved, but this fellowship was to be a divine school as well.
If any one serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be… —John 12:26 (NASB)
Although Jesus’ love was not condemning, it was nevertheless full of expectation. When the Lord stated, “If you love me… keep my commandments,” the implication was clear that love required obedience. Jesus, knowing that we need Him, requires our total allegiance for our sakes. When we do not obey fully, conviction sets in as God lovingly prods us to keep us from damaging ourselves. Today churches are filled with people harboring unconfessed sin in their lives. God’s normal response to these who most often know better, is to send conviction. This conviction is often intensified as we are confronted through a sermon or the reproof of a friend. If we love our sin more than God, we will attack His servants and their message. Trying to pry the conviction out of our lives, we condemn it and blame “harsh teaching”. Many who suffer from guilt feelings are suffering not from condemnation but because they are actually guilty! If we try to rid ourselves of that guilt which is the result of our sin through any means other than God’s prescribed method of confession and repentance, we open ourselves to danger and deception. “Whoso covereth his sin shall not prosper” (Prov. 28:13).
The source, then, of condemnation is located in one of the following situations:
- Human or demonic agents refusing to grant rest to a soul who has genuinely confessed and repented of his sin.
- Confounding conviction and condemnation in order to soothe guilt feelings accompanying unconfessed sin.
The honest disciple of Christ need not experience guilt feelings if he has done in earnest all our Lord has commanded us to do.