Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Do Not Be Ashamed

Week 1  Abide and Rest

Day 5

Do Not Be Ashamed

Don’t accept guilt. There is no shame in enjoying enjoyable food.  Do not be ashamed, and do not be afraid.
Beloved, food is not good or bad.  Food is food. 
When the Lord directs you to abstain for the sake of your spirit, obey. 
There will be feast days once more.
Walk with the Lord, and He will teach you how to walk in freedom.

he Lord’s gentle but urgent request to focus upon Him is a call to obedience. Yes, we may face unpleasant consequences if we disobey, but our focus is not to be upon sin’s possible outcomes. Legalism calls us to obey in order to be saved, but grace through Jesus offers salvation so we are able to obey. The transformation from sinner to saint can’t precede the cleansing power of the Holy presence of God. As John Piper says, “Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.”[i]

We must remove our eyes from the filth of our own sin and place them on Jesus, but that isn’t all we are to do. Repentance calls for a cessation of sin, and it is no good looking at Jesus if we don’t follow Him. We aren’t supposed to ignore the looming danger of the consequences of disobedience, but we find the tools to cut the ropes that bind us in our Savior’s hands and not our own. There is hope for us because, through Christ, our efforts to break free from sin are backed by Holy Spirit power.

We often get caught up in an effort to find the correct way to proceed in our efforts to turn from sin.  Shall we count calories, or eat low carb, or begin a walking program or…the choices are endless. What to do?  I think we err when we desire a formula for repentance. A mother whose toddler is about to fall over a cliff doesn’t care if the child crawls, walks, or hops away from the edge, just so long as the child moves to safety and within reach of her arms. As our Holy parent, God simply wants us to turn from the sin and run to Him. There is no formula; there is only the warmth of His embrace. 

While there isn’t a checklist or procedure, there are holy disciplines that will facilitate the Lord’s transforming work rather than hinder it, and gratitude is one of these. When my daughter’s baby son stopped breathing in the night and had to be resuscitated, she did not use stress as an excuse to sin. Instead, she began a gratitude journal. In the midst of sleepless nights and appointments with specialists, my daughter did not rail out against God; she looked for reasons to come before Him with thanksgiving. This simple practice brought her peace in the midst of a tumultuous time of her life because it helped her focus on the ways God was taking care of her and her beloved little boy.

An appropriate goal for the coming days is to increase intake of Scripture. Don’t just read; meditate upon, memorize, ponder, and digest God’s word. Also, consider beginning a gratitude journal of your own, but instead of listing earthly blessings, record attributes of the Lord that will feed your heart’s thankfulness for Him. It is good to be thankful for God’s gifts, but the underlying knowledge that the treasures we can see and touch are temporary can taint our thankfulness with sorrow or fear. By contrast, God is unchanging, and thankfulness for Him can flow even through times when our life circumstances bring more clouds than sun.  

We have great freedom within the parameters of obedience. There are as many ways of navigating our way to freedom as there are beautifully precious and unique human beings, but there is only one path, and His name is Jesus Christ.  

Pray: Dear God, I’ve failed in so many ways. I’ve made resolutions time and again and I’ve let myself, my loved ones, and You down. But I look at Jesus and I see Him beckoning me to follow. He is smiling and excited that I am coming along. Lord I accept Your invitation. I love You. I will follow You.  Amen. 

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe...
Hebrews 12:28

[i] John Piper. Day 6: Read Your Bible More and More, 15 Days in the Word With John Piper, Copyright ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Find many free audio, video and written resources by John Piper (including translations!) at

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