Conviction and Condemnation
Last month I was listening to an interview on the radio. James Merritt was talking about his book "52 Weeks With Jesus". The interviewer, Lynne Ford, read an excerpt from his book and I've been thinking about it ever since. You can follow the link to hear the whole interview, but I'll paraphrase the excerpt here.
There was a group of tourists watching a flock of sheep. A man was chasing them where he wanted them to go and one of the people watching asked their guide why the shepherd was chasing the sheep from behind. Don't sheep follow their shepherd?
Yes they do, the guide told them. The person chasing the sheep wasn't the shepherd.
It was the butcher. Jesus leads. It's the devil who chases.
Notice that both motivate. Jesus asks us to go along with Him where He's already gone ahead of us, protecting, preparing, promising. The 23rd Psalm is crammed with practical allegory about the trusting relationship. Sheep trust their shepherd.
Then there's the enemy. He chases us from behind with fear, accusation, and discouragement. We don't move because we trust the devil we move because we fail to trust The Shepherd. We believe the lie just like Adam and Eve did.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” [see the subtle cynicism here? The ever-so-slight criticism of God? The devil knew what God really said. He wasn't asking a question, he was planting one in Eve's mind]
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4“You will not certainly die,”[big, fat, filthy, LIE] the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, [very true] and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [he knows they don't understand the implications of "knowing". He knows that he's implied that God is holding out on them, that He's offered something less than His best. Not directly spoken, but another HUGE lie, nonetheless.]
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. [doesn't it just make your heart sick every time you read it?] She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. [Adam sitting silent is a topic for another day] 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [They let the enemy chase them to their shame]
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Okay, so if you've hung in here with me though my little commentary, here's my point:
God is not the one who shames. He is not the one who scorns, or condemns.
The enemy does that.
Though he has nothing anywhere like Our Father's power* he is sneaky and efficient. He mixes up lies and the truth to trip you up. Your enemy will chase you toward sin and then try to make you feel like scum for failing.
If the voice whispering to your spirit is sneering at you in disgust you can bet your favorite hoodie that it's not Your Father, but your enemy.
So here's a practical example for you: You lost your temper and spoke harshly to a friend or family member. You know you hurt them and now you regret your words and your tone.
The enemy: You really messed up. They hate you now and you've done irreparable damage. Things like that are the reason [fill in the blank with an insecurity he's choosing to pick at, adding discouragement to guilt and shame]
The Father: Your words were spoken in anger. You know from My Word that it is not My hope for you to sin in your anger. I want better for my children. You must ask forgiveness of Me and your loved one. In the future, call on Me when you are frustrated. I will use these trials to make you more like Me.
So there's some really good news. You have total access to The One who loves you as if there's no one else to love. James 4;7 says "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
Because of Him you have authority over the enemy of your soul. At the Name of Jesus, he, the accuser,will be the one chased away.
*read: the devil is not God's opposite; God has no opposite. the devil is not God's nemesis, though he's love for us to think it. He's under no such delusion himself, but knows he is defeated and has no power other than what God allows him. Again, that's a topic for another day.