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To condemn someone is to pronounce them unfit or guilty, to announce judgment or punishment on them. If we get too hung up on our past mistakes, we can end up feeling condemned, guilty, and ashamed. The Law of Moses pointed out people’s failures and shortcomings without helping them and, unfortunately, many people are still living under the law. This mindset causes us to think we are not good enough for God to use, however the Bible says Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but to save us. When He came, He ended the law and replaced it with grace. Our faith in His favor frees us. Preaching and demonstrating grace leads to repentance and bears much more fruit than condemnation ever could. God’s grace powerfully changed Zacchaeus, and it can have the same effect on us.
A. Grace from God frees us from condemnation, guilt, and the fear of punishment.
1. To condemn someone is to judge them unusable and pronounce disapproval of them. Being in Jesus means we are no longer condemned.
a. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
2. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God(John 3:17, 18).
a. God did notsend Jesus to tell us we are unfit and unusable, or to make us feel ashamed.
b. If we feel shame or condemnation, it did not come from God.
3. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ(John 1:17).
a. The law has no tenderness or feeling. It is inflexible, with no compassion for human weakness. It tells us what we should be, but does not help us to be that way.
b. The law puts heavy burdens on our conscience, but it does not help us bear them. It is heartless and constantly makes demands. It condemns us.
B. We win souls to Christ not by condemning them, but by extending grace to them.
1. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold(Luke 19:5-8).
a. Under the law, Zacchaeus’ past condemned him. Of all the people Jesus could have chosen to visit, it is significant that He chose Zacchaeus. Jesus knew that God’s unconditional love and undeserved favor would change Zacchaeus’ life permanently.
b. God is not looking for people who qualify according to the world’s standards.
c. We do not bring people to God by condemning them, but by showing them grace.
2. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God(2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
a. Reconciling man back to God was Jesus’ entire mission during His ministry.
b. When we let God use us this way, people will look at our lives and read us like living epistles.
c. The new covenant is about serving in the newness of life, not serving under the old letter of the law.
3. Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life(2 Corinthians 3:2-6).
a. We have been anointed to minister the new covenant.
b. “The letter” refers to performance-based Christianity, in which we work to please God and earn His blessings. This is actually laboring to get God to do what He has already done.
c. We are in a time of an explosion of grace in our lives. Nothing about true Christianity is earned; it is all about believing.
d. The Holy Spirit will write on our hearts. When we minister to others, He will write on their hearts, as well.
e. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them (Hebrews 10:16).
C. The law only shows us our faults and condemns. Grace shows us Jesus and forgives.
1. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter(Romans 7:6).
a. Many churches still teach the “oldness of the letter.” This mindset brings the fear of condemnation to people if they feel they do not measure up. Because of this, people fall back into performance.
b. When we focus on ourselves instead of on Jesus, the result is self-effort.
c. The newness of life focuses not on outward requirements, but on the spiritual requirements of focusing on Jesus’ finished works.
2. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious(2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
a. “The ministration of death” refers to the Ten Commandments.
b. The law was sent to administer condemnation. It was glorious in the purpose for which it was designed.
c. The ministry of the old covenant focused on the letter of the law. The ministry of the new covenant focuses on the Spirit.
d. The ministry of the old covenant kills; the ministry of the new covenant brings life.
e. The ministry of the old covenant has passed away. The ministry of the new covenant remains.
3. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?...What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?(1 Corinthians 6:2, 3, 19).
a. Instead of condemning people for their sins, Paul reminded them of who they were in Christ, and what they had because of Him.
b. God’s eyes are not on our sin, but on the perfection of Jesus and what He did.
c. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours (1 Corinthians3:21).
D. Paul and Jesus preached grace, not condemnation. They forgave without punishing.
1. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise(2 Corinthians 13:8, MSG).
a. Paul corrected without condemning. When he preached, he instilled substance into people and wrote on their hearts.
2. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more(John 8:3-11).
a. The law condoned stoning people who were caught sinning, but Jesus refused to condemn the woman.
b. People who feel condemned want to condemn others. When they have sin in their lives, they want to point out others’ sin.
3. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4).
a. The men who were replacing grace with lasciviousness turned away from God’s grace. When we condemn others, we, too, turn away from grace.