As Christians, much of the suffering we endure is caused by condemnation. What is condemnation, exactly?
Under the Law, we use our willpower to force ourselves to obey in a certain way in order to earn the good will of God. If we don't keep the law perfectly, God will be angry with us, and punish us.
It was impossible for any human being to keep the Law perfectly, which is why Jesus, who is God, became a human being and did it for us. It's why, after he paid the price for all the sin of all mankind, that he pronounced, “It is finished.” Jesus quite literally paid it all.
So, why do we keep trying to pay it again? Not only is that backwards, it sets us up for condemnation – in other words, the feelings of self-recrimination, where we literally judge ourselves to be a criminal, and we suffer the consequences the sentence we have pronounced upon ourselves.
The apostle Paul addresses this issue quite directly…
[callout]”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2[/callout]
Condemnation is the work of the Enemy. We must avoid this at all costs. How do we do that? Here's how…
1. Guard the gates.
In this case, the gates are your eyes, your ears, and your mouth. You have to be careful what passes through each of these gates because they can have an effect on your inner being.
- Guard your eyes. Be careful what you see. A friend of mine says, “What entertains you, enters you.” What does this mean? Things that you watch on television and the movies have a deep effect on your spirit being. If you watch shows that are filled with sex, violence, betrayal, hatred, anger, strife and fear, what do you think that does to you inside? This is not the kind of thing you need to be pouring into your spirit. I don’t tell you this to set up rules to make you feel guilty. I’m not telling you what you should or should not watch. I’m suggesting you might want to ask yourself as you’re watching your favorite entertainment, “Is this what I want to be putting inside of me? Does this help me or hurt me?” Here’s a hint – the answer is never neutral.
- Guard your ears. Be careful who you listen to and what you’re being taught, even in church. If you’re listening to a preacher or minister that teaches condemnation, that teaches the mixture of the Law with Grace, that teaches you that you still have a “sin nature” even after you’ve been redeemed by the Lord, that teaches you that sickness is the result of sin in your life, or that you somehow have to earn God’s redemption, or that calamity has befallen you so you can learn a lesson, here’s what you need to do – stop listening. Allowing that kind of thing to come into your ears, to listen to those kinds of teachings, is damaging your spirit.
- Guard what comes out of your mouth. The Bible says, “The tongue contains the power of life and death.” It also says that we’re actually saved by the confession of our lips. Now, you cannot undo God’s work to save you, but what that scripture tells me is that what we proclaim from our mouth has enormous power. If you’re constantly saying things like, “Why does this always happen to me? I always have this terrible luck. I’m sick, sick, sick. I’m always in pain. I’m always depressed,” – saying things like this is dangerous. Because you’re anointed by the Holy Spirit, your words have power. They’re like a weapon. Be careful how you wield them and who you wield them against – yourself, for instance.
2. Use the power of group anointing.
First, let’s be clear about what the anointing is. The anointing in the Bible refers to the oil that was used in the Hebrew rituals. To be anointed with oil meant that you were smeared with, or covered with, the holy blessed oil that had been prepared carefully by the priests. This anointing conveyed spiritual power.
In the New Covenant, we’re anointed by the Holy Spirit. He is smeared or rubbed into us and we’re infused with his power, and there are greater and lesser levels of anointing. Every believer is anointed. You can increase the anointing by being in the presence of God, and you can also enjoy increased anointing by being with a group. This is one of the reasons we come together as believers.
The power of the group anointing cannot be under-estimated. Remember that when Jesus came to his own home town, the Bible says that he could not perform any great miracles there because of their unbelief. If the very Son of God could have his miracle-working power limited by the anointing of unbelief of a group, and he could visit other places where the faith level was high and the anointing was also high, what does that mean for us?
Come together with groups of other believers who understand God’s power to heal and his will to heal, and ride the momentum of that group anointing. To be clear, seek out a church that believes in the gospel of Grace, that believes in the power of God to heal, and that believes it is his will to heal today. Surround yourself and soak yourself in that anointing.
3. Don’t mix the Law and Grace together.
This mixing of Law and Grace cuts off the flow of your receiving everything that the Lord has for you. In the book of Hebrews the writer refers to “those who have fallen from Grace.” Elsewhere, in the book of Galatians, Paul writes that those who would put themselves back under the Law have “fallen from Grace.”
What does it mean to fall from Grace? It doesn’t mean that you lose your salvation, but it means that you’re refusing to receive the benefits of Grace, of the unmerited favor that God has for you. (I realize that for many people, I just opened a big can of theological worms, but we will have to save the debate about this issue for another blog post.)
4. Don’t be alone.
The strategy of the enemy is to cut us off from the other sheep in the flock. If he can get us alone, he can begin talking to us, whispering his lies, and get us to engage in false beliefs, to put us in a place of hopelessness and despair. That is exactly where he wants us, so we’re disempowered, so we don’t make an impact for the Kingdom, and so that we don’t enjoy the benefits that the Lord has purchased for us. (If you want to know what your benefits package is, see Psalm 103.)
When we’re with other believers, they stir us up to good works, they help keep our feet on the path, they encourage us, they pray for us, they fill us with faith, and they smear us with their own anointing. In the Gospels, we see that the presence of Jesus was enough to dismantle the powers of darkness. Today, we are the body of Christ on the earth-we are in fact his physical presence. Do not be alone.
At the times that you feel that you want to withdraw and go hide somewhere and lick your wounds, that’s the very time you need to do exactly the opposite. I know it will be hard, but do it anyway. You’ll thank me later.
5. Don’t fight for your suffering.
If you fight for your own suffering and victimhood, then you shall have it. This is the very definition of victim-thinking. When we’re faced with a terrible situation such as a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or a devastating illness, our tendency is to go into victim mode. We begin to bemoan the terrible thing that has befallen us, and we want to tell other people about it and get their sympathy.
This is understandable. It’s human nature, but it quickly crosses over into victim thinking. Once we begin thinking like a victim, it becomes something very ugly, something very self-indulgent, very self-centered, and also disempowering to us. We may be rolling in the feelings of empathy we get from other people. We may begin using our victimhood as an excuse for why we can’t do certain things or why we behave in certain ways.
The story of your life is not your life. It's just your story. Don't like it? Change the story you keep telling. (Click To Tweet This!)
“Of course I’m angry all the time,” you may find yourself saying. “You would be, too, if you suffered like I suffer. You have no idea what it’s like to be me.”
If you are constantly rehashing how tough your childhood was, how mean or disinterested or abusive your parents were, you're arguing for your victim status.
This is the language of the victim. It’s the language of the powerless. It’s the language of the faithless. It’s the language of defeat. It’s ugly and it removes you from the game. Fight, fight, fight, the victim mentality.
Declare to yourself daily, “I am not a victim. I am a victor. I am not at the whim of my circumstance. I’m living the destiny that my Savior purchased for me.” You’ve got to talk to yourself this way. You’ve got to make these positive declarations over your life. You’ve got to say of yourself what scripture says of you.
To that end, it’s important to know what scripture says about you, because when you realize what God has to say about you, you will never again fall victim to what the devil has to say about you. When Satan began to tempt the Lord Jesus in the wilderness, how did Jesus respond? He responded by speaking the truth of scripture. This is a good example for you and I to follow as well.
Here’s a list of declarations (these declarations were written by Steve Backlund – find more here) you can make over your own life that are taken directly from the Holy Scripture:
- I set the course of my life with my declarations (James 3:2-5).
- As I speak God’s promises, they come to pass. (2 Peter 1:2-4; Mark 11:23-24).
- When I pray, God always does something good. (2 Cor 5:21; James 5:16b).
- God showers me with financial abundance. (Phil 4:19).
- My angels are carrying out the Word of God on my behalf (Psalm 103:20).
- I am dead to sin and live to obey God. (Romans 6:11).
- My health is always improving. (Isaiah 53:3-5; Psalms 103:1-3).
- I have supernatural protection. (Psalm 91).
- All my relationships prosper. (Luke 2:52).
- Through Jesus I am 100% righteous, loved, and worthy . (Colossians 1:12-15).
- I have the wisdom of God today, to think right , speak right, and do right. (James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 2:16).
- I expect the best day of my life spiritually, emotionally, and financially in Jesus’ name (Romans 15:13).
30 Day Victory Challenge
Here's my challenge to you: follow these five suggestions, and make those declarations daily, for the next 30 days.
If you do this with even the faintest ember of faith and hope stirring in your heart, you will see a positive impact on your life. These very actions, attitudes, and declarations, are forms of worship and demonstrations of faith. There is never, ever a time when we can worship and stir up our own faith, and have nothing happen. Something always happens. God is always doing something good.
Take the challenge. I look forward to hearing your stories and testimonies of victory. Seriously. Post them below-share with your brothers and sisters!