Confidence in any relationship grows when people are able to trust each other and realize that each one has the other’s best interests at heart. In the same way, confident Christians must learn to trust that God loves them.
One of the most self-defeating beliefs many Christians maintain is that they are nothing more than forgiven sinners. But according to Scripture, that isn’t even possible. A person is either one or the other: forgiven or a sinner.
Once we have received forgiveness, we are free from sin and no longer sinners. We have been made saints in Christ. We are also made free from the nagging voice of condemnation—or at least, it is now possible for us to be free.
Sadly, for too many, the Christian life is filled with feelings of condemnation and a nagging sense that God is disappointed with them in some way. A condemned person has been found guilty and sentenced to punishment for a crime. Thus, to be condemned specifically means to pronounce a person guilty.
Because we know that Jesus took our punishment for sin, we also know that we are without guilt. Therefore, if we choose to live with condemnation, we are also choosing to ignore the depth of the work Jesus has done for us.
We see one example of how deep God’s love runs in the account of the woman who was brought to Jesus after being caught in the very act of adultery (John 8:3-12). But Jesus refused to condemn the woman. In fact, He told the accusing, self-righteous scribes and Pharisees that they could condemn her only if they had no sin. Of course, not one of them would go so far as to claim himself sinless, as a result, the woman’s accusers dispersed.
Then in verses 10 and 11, Jesus gives us a very powerful insight:
“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more'” (NKJV).
Although the Law demanded that this woman be taken outside the city walls and stoned to death, Jesus didn’t hold her to the Law. Instead, He revealed a higher law: the royal law of God’s perfect love.
Religion had made those accusers harsh and heartless, and it does the same thing today. When someone is caught in sin as this woman was, the religiously calloused will immediately write that person off. And if any trouble comes to that person, the religious just dismiss it as an example of someone getting what he or she deserved.
Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery, nor does He condemn any sinner or saint who is caught in sin. Instead, Jesus forgives and empowers them to live above sin. He isn’t soft on sin or its consequences. Jesus is, however, committed to unconditional love that will see anyone through tough times.
In John 3:17, Jesus reveals His true assignment:
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
If God doesn’t condemn us, we need not accept the condemnation of others or even of ourselves. Nor can we allow ourselves to condemn others who may be caught in a snare or trap of sin. We are not guilty!