Stuck in Self-Condemnation?

Three women, two inmates and I, sit around a metal table in jail. Heads bowed, we momentarily take our eyes off ourselves and seek the Lord.

We each thank the Lord aloud for specific blessings in our lives rather than ask for more.

Voices soften, noses sniffle as we mention the good in our lives;

Acknowledge God is good.

After the last Amen, I gaze at two women’s faces, once forlorn, now radiant from meeting with the Lord.

Women forgiven, now able to “go in peace” like the woman sinner who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed His feet with perfume. (Luke 7:36-50)

Prior to those prayers, we had discussed our struggle with sin.

“For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

We discussed being broken.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

We discussed salvation that only comes “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25)

However, knowing God’s Word and owning it are two different things.

“I’m a Christian, but I keep beating myself up,” the inmate said, “because I know better, but I keep sinning.”

Just like the “wretched man.”

But unlike the Apostle Paul, this female inmate was stuck in self-condemnation. Like a fly caught in a spider’s web, she squirmed through self-effort to free herself from guilt and shame, powerless to escape.

I’ve been stuck there too.

What to do?

Return to God’s Word: Truth takes precedent over human emotions or understanding.

Claim the facts:  “If we confess our sins He is faithful, and willing to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Trust God’s character: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:4,5)

Rejoice knowing: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” (Romans 8:1)

And because we can rejoice in the Lord even as we sit in a county jail, we bowed our heads in Thanks giving.

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

4 thoughts on “Stuck in Self-Condemnation?”

  1. I have also struggled with self-condemnation and I agree – the best way out of it is to carry my thoughts captive to the truth and ask forgiveness if I’ve sinned. Satan would love to see us wallow in self-condemnation but God has set us free – I’m so thankful He loves and accepts me even though I mess up so often!


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