The reason why some fail and some thrive in their Christian lives lies heavily in these two experiences; condemnation and conviction.
In a world constantly plagued with sins such as evil pleasures, greed, bitterness, betrayal, jealousy and the rest, the believer who has been set apart to live a holy life in an unholy world constantly has to deal with the challenge of overcoming temptations to sin. Unfortunately as believers we fall into the traps of temptations due to our fleshly desires. In our fallen state of experiencing the shame and guilt of sin, there are two paths that presents themselves to us; the path of self- condemnation and the path of conviction by the Holy Spirit.
The path of self condemnation is when one rejects the grace of God’s forgiveness and mercy and drowns his or herself in the pool of shame and guilt for the sins committed. In this experience of self condemnation one seeks to punish oneself over the wrong doing at the expense of seeking grace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.
The path of conviction by the Holy Spirit is the remorseful experience one has towards the wrongful act or sin he or she have committed and humbly yields to receive (God’s Grace) unmerited help to be forgiven and restored to the path of holiness and righteousness in Christ Jesus.
A study of the experience of Peter and Judas Iscariot; two of Jesus’ disciples reveals how self-condemnation can lead to death and conviction of the Holy Spirit can lead to restoration. According to the gospels of Christ in the Bible we discover that Judas Iscariot and Peter both committed great sins against our Lord Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus Christ which led to the arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:47-48). Whereas Peter denied Jesus Christ three times in the courtyard ( Luke 22:54-62) when Jesus was arrested.
After these two men; Peter and Judas sinned against the Lord, they both felt great shame and guilt and the two paths of navigating these feelings of guilt and shame were presented to them. Peter and Judas had the choice to make whether to tread on the path of self condemnation for the wrong they have done or to allow the conviction of the Spirit to lead them to repentance and restoration in the Lord.
Unfortunately Judas chose the path of self-condemnation. Matthew 27:3-5 reveals that when Judas heard that the verdict was to crucify Christ he attempted to return the money he received for betraying Jesus but it was rejected. So crippled with the shame and guilt of betraying Jesus Christ, Judas went and hanged himself. In taking his life for the sin he committed, Judas rejected the grace of God’s forgiveness and mercy and chose to punish himself for the sin he committed. Beloved in Christ this is how self condemnation kills. When we reject God’s grace of love, mercy and forgiveness after we have sinned against Him, we end up separating ourselves from God which is spiritual death.
On the other hand, Peter who wept bitterly after realizing that he has denied Lord Jesus finds His way back to the Lord to be restored. Peter wept for the sin he committed but did not separate himself from the Lord. Peter went back to be with the disciples and upon Lord Jesus’s resurrection He made Peter a shepherd of His flock (John 21:15-25). Like Peter when we fall into sin, we should not isolate ourselves from the body of Christ but we should seek the fellowship of body of Christ to help us to find our way back to the Lord. The Spirit of God uses the members of the body of Christ to rebuke, teach, encourage and guide us in our walk with the Lord. In the company of the disciples, Peter was able to find hope of forgiveness, mercy and the love of God. The Spirit of God enabled Peter to hold on and when he did, Peter saw the risen Lord.
To God be the glory, Peter a timid man who once denied the Lord became the great apostle of Jesus Christ who stood among thousands and declared Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at the expense of losing his life.
Beloved in Christ when God restores you, He also equips you to be empowered to overcome what once overcame you. The Spirit of God grants you the grace and power to walk in God’s holiness and righteousness when you yield your heart to Him after you fall. God is ever faithful to extend his eternal love, mercy and forgiveness to whomever that seeks Him. No sin is ever too great that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot wipe away.
It is my prayer that we will all yield our hearts to the Spirit of God and not allow shame and guilt of our sins to consume us. May God help us to always live our lives in true holiness and righteousness to the glory of His name. Amen!
Here are a few scripture verses to reflect on:
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
John 3:17 NKJV
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1 NKJV
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9 NKJV
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Psalms 32:1-2 NKJV