|This article is authored by Dick Leggatt, President of Derek Prince Ministries – USA and comprises his March 12, 2013 Newsletter.|
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Do you struggle with condemnation in your life? It’s one of those problems that cuts two ways — trying to keep yourself from being judgmental, yet also struggling individually against the constant feeling of being judged by others.
Either way, fending off those tendencies in our daily experience is really important if we are to keep our heads above water and live in a way that honors Jesus. Hopefully, some of the content of this letter will provide a helpful grip for you in handling this issue. Maybe the following story will set the stage.
“How Should I React?”
As I was doing the initial work on this topic of condemnation, my wife, Cindi, reminded me of a serious situation we encountered almost forty years ago. The memory had come to her out of the blue, and as you will see, it totally fits the topic of this letter.
A few years after we had moved to Florida to live and work close to Don and Alice Basham (Cindi’s parents), they had to inform us of a very unfortunate situation. A dear friend of our entire family, someone who was very close to Cindi and me and had considerably influenced our lives, had fallen into immorality. Everyone in our circle of Christian friends was shocked, wondering how to respond. It was especially painful to us because this man had almost been like a favorite uncle to Cindi.
One day after hearing this unpleasant news, right in the midst of a visit from my parents, Cindi and I needed to drop off something at Don and Alice’s home. Having already agreed that I would wait in the car with our toddler son and my folks while Cindi ran the item inside, we pulled up to Don and Alice’s house. There in the driveway was the car of our friend who was in trouble! Cindi and I exchanged an apprehensive glance, but without a word, Cindi stepped out of the car and headed toward the house, wondering how to handle seeing our friend. She had hoped to slip in through the kitchen door and give a wave to her folks and the friend as they sat in the living room, and then make a quick exit.
But as she walked past the kitchen window, she saw her parents sitting at the kitchen table talking with our dear friend. She couldn’t turn back to avoid facing him, because they had all seen her pass by the window. So she continued toward the door, praying that the Lord would show her what to do.
“That Was Just Right”
In recounting the incident to me, Cindi recalled that she had no answers or direction as she headed to the house. But the very moment she grasped the doorknob to step into their kitchen, she heard the Lord say, unmistakably, “Just love him.”
As she entered, Cindi greeted her folks and then turned to our dear friend who, with obvious trepidation, was wondering what she would do. Without hesitation, Cindi walked over to him, hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek — just as she would have done on any other normal day. Then, in a perfectly natural way, she said, “I just came by to drop this off. Dick and his parents are waiting in the car, so I’d better go.” At that, Don said, “Let me walk you to the front door, Honey.” As he opened the door for her, Don whispered, “That was just right, Cindi.”
It could have been a moment filled with condemnation and shame. Instead, it was a moment of relief and redemption. And to bring it about, the Lord prompted Cindi to act as Jesus would have acted in that situation.
No Shame on You
Three Scriptures have been on my mind as I have considered this theme. The first is a powerful statement from the Word of God. Romans 8:1 tells us: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” For those of us who know the Lord, yet struggle against guilt and shame, those are some of the most liberating words we can ever hear. (The rest of Romans 8 is wonderfully encouraging as well, with phrases in the latter portion of the chapter such as, “If God is for us, who can be against us” [verse 31] and “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” [verse 37].)
The second Scripture that has been in my thoughts is adjacent to the best-known passage in the New Testament. Sometimes, by focusing on John 3:16, we forget the powerful message in John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” How can we ever forget that Jesus’ primary purpose was not to impose guilt, but to bring freedom from shame and condemnation?
An amazing demonstration of this truth in Jesus’ life and ministry is our third Scripture — the story of the Lord dealing with the religious leaders who brought Him the woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery. When all her accusers had slinked away after encountering a Savior who was more prepared to forgive than to condemn, Jesus declared to the woman: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” John 8:11. This is the picture of God’s heart toward us in our battle with sin. Instead of saying, “Shame on you,” Jesus chooses to say to us what He said to this hurting, embarrassed woman: “No shame on you.”
Switching from Guilt to Grace
For assistance in freeing ourselves from condemnation and operating in the grace of God, we could easily select a whole host of helpful excerpts from the teaching legacy of Derek Prince. We’re happy to let you know that the one we have chosen is from a soon-to-be-released book entitled By Grace Alone: Finding Freedom and Purging Legalism from Your Life. This book is scheduled to be released in late spring, and we will certainly let you know when it is available — so please be watching for your opportunity to order it.
In one section of the book, Derek talks about switching his preaching emphasis from guilt to grace, as described in the excerpt below:
“Preachers in particular need to come to the realization that it is not spiritual to make people feel guilty.
For a period in my ministry I thought the more I made people feel guilty, the more powerful my messages were. I worked hard at making my congregation feel guilty and I achieved results. I roasted people, and they writhed and squirmed. The unfortunate result was that at the end of the message they would come up and say, “Wonderful message, Brother Prince! Wonderful!” But they never changed. They remained the same Sunday after Sunday.
Finally, I thought to myself, Something’s wrong with this. I’m wasting my time. Eventually, the Lord showed me my problem. It is not God who makes people feel guilty; it is the devil. If we condemn people, we are doing the devil’s work for him, and he does not even pay us!
I found it is much more difficult to make people feel righteous than it is to make them feel guilty. But if we can help people experience the righteousness they have through faith in Christ, then we have succeeded in preaching the Gospel.”
Stepping Beyond Condemnation
This may be the perfect time for you to address your problems with guilt, shame and condemnation — both giving and getting. Are you perplexed by how to deal with these nagging issues? Are they taking a toll on your spiritual life? Would you like to stop being judgmental of others? Would you like to rise above the condemnation you feel from others? Are you ready to get some much-needed relief?
If your answer to all those questions is, “Yes,” please join with me in the following declaration and prayer.
Father, I admit that I do indeed struggle with condemnation, guilt and shame. I confess that I have been on both the giving and receiving end of this problem, and I want the nasty process to stop here and now. I proclaim that You have the answer to my struggle, because You came to bring freedom from all condemnation.
Beginning with my own situation, I confidently proclaim the truth of Romans 8:1 as it relates to me: There is therefore now no condemnation for me, because I belong to Jesus Christ. On the cross, Lord Jesus, You dealt with every vestige of shame, and because of You, I can be completely free of it. In my spirit, I hear You saying what You said to the woman caught in adultery — that You do not condemn me either, and You are commissioning me to go and sin no more.
In that regard, I ask Your forgiveness for the times I have looked down upon others in judgment and condemnation. Forgive me, Lord. In all humility, I cry out to You: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
I receive Your forgiveness, and Your power to walk in a way that is completely free of guilt, shame and condemnation. Thank You, Lord, that there is no shame on me!
Ah, Sweet Freedom!
By what you have declared just now, you have freed yourself from the hold that condemnation has had on your life. Take a breath, my friend, and enjoy the sweet air of true spiritual freedom.
We mentioned earlier that Derek Prince has plenty of teaching on the topic of this letter. Our desire is to bring added encouragement to you by offering you a free MP3 download of one of those messages, titled “Guilt, Shame and Rejection.” This teaching will help you experience the marvelous freedom Jesus has purchased for you.
It is our great privilege to walk with you and stand with you in this process. In fact, it’s the least we can do. You have stood with us so faithfully with your prayers and your financial gifts. Our grateful response is to express our thanks and to find any way possible to encourage you in your life of faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you for your gracious support. We are honored to partner with you in this work.
Now it is time to bring this message of freedom to others. Let’s join together in declaring the wonderful truth we have confirmed in this letter: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!
P.S. We can’t thank you enough for your love, your prayers and your financial support for us. You are enabling us to bring life-giving teaching like the freedom we highlight in this letter. Please take advantage of our offer, simply by clicking here to download the free message by Derek Prince. We know it will bless you!