“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either.
Go. From now on sin no more.” ~ John 8:10-11
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“Here I go again…giving in to all my cravings and eating like there is no tomorrow. What is wrong with me?”
I remember the knot in my gut as I made comments like this one every day during my time struggling with emotional eating and bulimia. I hear this kind of statement from women all over the country as I share my story and coach hundreds toward a healthier lifestyle. They are frustrated and discouraged because they keep falling back into old patterns. Often, they are stuck because they’ve become incredibly skilled at self-condemnation.
If you feel defeated and condemned to a life of bondage, who do you think is condemning you? I can assure you that your sense of shame is not of the Lord. He wants you to fully experience the power and freedom of your identity in Him alone. In John 8, we read about a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Yet, she was not condemned by Jesus. He showed her that even her accusers – the self-righteous Pharisees that wanted to stone her – were not without sin. In fact, they were not righteous enough to even cast the first stone.
This “woman of shame” lay at the feet of Jesus, exposed in all her sin. I can only imagine the fear and apprehension she experienced waiting for Him to respond as the religious hypocrites slithered away leaving her alone and face to face with the Jesus. Did He remind her of all her failures? Did He condemn her for her sin? Did he wag His finger in contempt? No, He simply said, “Go and sin no more.”
The Power of His Profound Grace
I have to believe that something supernatural happened in the heart of that woman in that moment. According to Jewish law, she should have been stoned to death, but now she was walking away free. She was not just free from death; she was potentially free from the bondage of her old life. While she could have gone back to her adulterous ways, I believe she was too profoundly transformed to live in that kind of captivity any longer. I hope she realized that Jesus had not just spared her life, but had also given her the power to be set free from the lies she believed. He showed her that she was not alone in sin. He showed her the power of His profound grace and that when she received Him, her sin was washed away. She was no longer defined by her sinful behavior, but rather reborn in newness of life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the Lord approved of her lifestyle. What I am saying is that condemnation and shame often send us into hiding and push us deeper into our bondage. When the Holy Spirit deals with us, it is with a conviction that brings repentance and a change in behavior that is rooted in right thinking and a pure heart. What does it take for each of us to move from self-condemnation to conviction and then lasting change that is rooted in truth?
Faith, Trust, and Daily Training
It takes faith and trust and daily “training” to change our thoughts and learn to relinquish unhealthy habits and replace them with healthier ones. This does not happen overnight. God cares just as much about the process of change as He does reaching our ultimate destination. On this journey, we must learn to stop condemning ourselves.
As a first step, we can “train” to believe that we are not “condemned” by God for our “bad” behavior by reading and meditating on the truth from His Word. Over time, we come to trust that his truth alone will set us free. If we simply struggle by our own will power and self-discipline to be “good” – we will ultimately fail at some point. But, if our motives are to surrender to Him and to let Him transform us into His image, we will discover incredible peace, power, and life-changing freedom.
If you are feeling defeated this very day by your failures, I am guessing that you are throwing stones of condemnation at yourself. And, you probably have a great supporter (though truly an enemy) cheering you along. Put down the stones and listen to Jesus. Listen to Him tell you how much He loves you (despite your behavior). He alone can give you the power to walk away from anything that holds you in bondage. Let go. Drop the stone. Grab His hand.
SCRIPTURE FOR MEDITATION:
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
Psalm 94:18 (NIV)
It is so true. I am so hard on myself some days. I give in to a small temptation and the next thing I know, I am out of control. The shame of feeling like a failure further diminishes my ability to dig myself out of my emotional rut and resume healthier ways. Please help me to “put down the stones”. Help me to truly believe Romans 8:1 that says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Help me to walk this day with you as my strength and my encourager. Amen.
From the devotion above I have identified:
- The lie(s) I believe:
- The truth I now receive: