Have you ever felt caught in a trap you couldn’t escape from? Like you were on a continually revolving wheel of struggling with temptations inside your head?
Maybe you acted some things out or maybe you didn’t. Maybe, like me, you discovered that your willpower just wasn’t strong enough to resist a juicy piece of temptation when it was thrown at you.
And then there’s the gnawing guilt which you just cannot shake off. The shame of it. The voices inside your head telling you that you are not and never will be good enough and worthy enough.
What you are experiencing is a classic symptom of living under a moral code, of living under the Law.
Contrary to what the religious experts tell us, living under Law will not lead to a morally blameless life. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:56, tells us that the Law actually empowers sin, that the power of sin is the Law. I never understood what he meant until I experienced it for myself a number of years ago.
This is how it worked.
Step One – I (like us all) had a foundation which lacked love , comfort and affirmation.
Step Two – I was tempted sexually and I succumbed to the temptation. I had no willpower to resist it.
Step Three – The Law (of the knowledge of good and evil) accused me of wrongdoing “in the sight of a holy God.”
Step Four – I immediately fell under condemnation, and felt terrible about myself and what I had done. I felt so bad that I needed comfort.
Step Five – I could not receive any comfort from God, because my shame and condemnation separated me from Him, so where would I eventually have to go for comfort? You’ve guessed it.
Step Six – I found comfort back in the sin, for which I was under condemnation.
And so the cycle began again.
That is how the Law empowers sin. It is the vicious cycle of condemnation and false comfort. This is the karma of being in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You cannot escape from it, unless you are liberated by Jesus. This is what Paul was trapped in, when he cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
How are you liberated by Jesus?
You are not liberated from the sin first; you are firstly liberated from the condemnation.
This is what Jesus did for the woman caught in adultery:
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” – John 8:10,11
Most Christians are taught that freedom from condemnation is a result of freedom from sin.
But it is actually the other way round. In order to get free from temptation, you need to be free of being condemned about it first. When you are free from the condemnation you can then escape from the ‘karma-wheel’ of condemnation and repentance.
What if repentance was first of all repentance from the clogging mire of condemnation?
What if you repented, not primarily of the symptom (falling to temptation) but of the root (living in the judgement of the knowledge of good and evil)?
This is what I discovered and it set me free to see that in Christ Jesus, there is really and actually no condemnation. When I was no longer under condemnation or ashamed of the bad stuff in me, the bad stuff in me began to drop away.
Freedom from condemnation brings freedom from sin.
Stephen Hill is from Belfast, Northern Ireland and now lives in New Zealand with his family. He has just released his first book: Primal Hope: Finding Confidence beyond Religion, available on Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle.