Self condemnation

So many Christians struggle with incessant self condemnation. This self condemnation can be a product of mental health issues or it can be a contributing factor towards their development. Either way, challenging incessant self condemnation is an essential undertaking.

Of course self condemnation is not a disassociated habit, it stems from poor self image, guilt, childhood labels, shame, critical parenting and a number of other sources. Exploring the roots of your self condemnation will be an important step in challenging its power in your life.

What is self condemnation? Well it is your own voice internalised; self talk that commentates negatively on your value, person-hood, actions, feelings and behaviours. Common experiences of self condemnation would be, "You are stupid, unacceptable, weak". "You are sinful, unworthy, a fraud". "You are unforgiven, unlovable, a failure".

You might assume that Christians would automatically experience less self condemnation than other people, since the whole Christian message stands in opposition to these messages. However, often Christians give licence to their self condemnation though a mistaken interpretation of Christian doctrine.

Some Christians mistake self condenation for the voice of conscience that is prompting them to confess their failings to Jesus even though they have already confessed them and been forgiven. Others justify their self condemnation by believeing it is a helpful tool that stops them making the same mistakes twice. Still others see self condemnation as a form of healthy punnishment that they should both initiate and endure as some form of pennance for their failings or shortfalls.

All of the assumtions above are mistaken, in fact thay stand in the face of the cross of Jesus and his grace. Maintaining self condemnation for presumed spiritual justification is something to let go of. Jesus has come to heal and restore, he wants you to stop holding onto your past sins and the consequential labels those mistakes have given you. He wants you to walk away from punnishing yourself, standing under the insults of others or the labels of your childhood. The direct translation of the word devil is the 'accuser or slanderer', he likes nothing more than to leave you in the false belief that self condemnation is a healthy spiritual discipline that keeps you from becoming proud.

There is a story in John Ch 8 where a woman is being judged having been caught in adultery. Jesus challenges the judges with their own shotcomings, then he asks the woman

v7, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
v8. "No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

In this story Jesus doesn't let sin off the hook (something many self condemners are worried about). Instead he deals with sin and condemnation separately. Jesus dealt with our sin at the cross when he took our sin upon himself.

Romans 8:1 says "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering".

Jesus removed our sin and the bible says there is "now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Jesus dealt with the womans with real compassion, he refuses to condemn her whist still challengeing her lifestyle.

We all need to refuse to condemn ourselves becuase Jesus has said that there is no condemnation for us. At the same time we need to healthily challenge our behaviour to be more like him.

Try and choose to say gentle and loving things to yourself today, if you are struggling, think about what Jesus would say to you; "You are my precious child, you are forgiven, I love you, have my peace, know that I will never leave you".

Have a day of affirmation and say goodbuy to condenmation.

Will Van Der Har, 24/07/2008
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