There is nothing more dangerous to our sanity than being under the weight of condemning thoughts and feelings.
A great privilege as a believer is the journey of growing with God from glory to glory. At each stage we mature and become more like Christ, while removing who we are not to be in Christ.
This daily transformation journey is covered in the grace of God. Grace is God’s operating power. Grace is the operating power of God, His divine work on the heart, God’s favor in action; giving us the ability to do what we could never do on our own. Grace allows us to work out our growth over time in relationships, because God knows we need time to process our transformation each day.
Grace is Available to Us
We all have times of spiritual triumph and days where we will fall. Through it all, God’s grace is available, not to sin more, but to give us the chance to become free from sin’s grip. This is the power of God’s love and grace towards us as His children. We have this tremendous gift given to us, where even though we are not perfect, we are being perfected. As we seek to grow in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, God works with us daily in our transformation journey.
God Does Not Condemn Us
It is important to know that Father God does not condemn us in this process. He does not use shame, guilt, regret or accusation as a way to change us. God transforms willing hearts in an atmosphere of love, and in a Father-child relationship. He engages us through the lens of loving relationship; teaching us the power of His love, grace and forgiveness.
On the other hand, it is the mission of the enemy to condemn us. The work of condemnation attacks the power of love, grace and forgiveness in ways that can be very subtle, yet deadly. Condemnation uses the Old Testament law for its validation, yet it often leaves out the beauty of New Covenant relationship, which puts the entire Scriptures into focus. Condemnation leans heavy on the side of law without seeing grace and love.
A Counterfeit Voice
Condemnation seeks to create an entire way of thinking and living, built on performance, works, man-based righteousness and legalism. This mindset will lead us into a lifestyle of earning what Christ paid for while the whole time never feeling that what is done in service is ever good enough.
If we give into the enemy’s traps of condemnation, we will forever come under the onslaughts of satan’s accusation and the accusations he throws at us through others. Condemnation will point out every place where you have not arrived and magnify each area where you do not qualify to be used by God. Condemnation will remind you of your failures and keep you in shame regarding your current struggles. He won’t let you recover from mistakes, and he will put a standard of perfection on you that you can never achieve.
Removing Your Power
The more religious and performance oriented we become, the more powerless we will become, and satan knows this. Condemnation does not allow you to be in a process of growth, but will daily remind you of every shortcoming you have in your life. When you sin, condemnation will be right there waiting to destroy you over your struggles.
In order to receive from God, we must remove the lens of condemnation and receive our acceptance as God’s children. We will never grow and show long lasting fruit listening to that lying voice. We cannot agree with the thoughts that religiously train us to be hard on ourselves with standards of perfectionism that torment us and nag us. God is content to work with us as His children to grow us. We must discern the counterfeit voice that masquerades as God that is keeping us from the freedom we were designed to possess.
Today, we want to address the deceptive facets of condemnation, including:
- Performance Based Living
- Black and white thinking regarding our relationship with God.
- A spiritual foundation where we struggle to see where we stand with God.
We also want to lay out some practical steps we can apply to overcome condemnation and live a free life.
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Freedom from Religious Condemnation
Mark: When I say the word condemnation, where does you mind go as far as the battleground arena?
Melissa: For myself, I think the biggest target is my past. Big time. Big time. Those arrows just whip at me about my past in anything. It could be something that I regret. It could be a conversation I had with somebody that I’m with. I think a lot of people can relate to this, where you spin over and over and over and can condemn yourself: “I should have been better. I should have, I should have. You should have done this. You looked awful. You sounded horrible.” Then it just becomes obsessing over every little thing because then once you go down that rabbit trail, I know for me, it will just start pulling up other things to make me feel horrible.
Mark: Yeah, it’s a huge area. If we think about the word condemnation or condemn, I don’t want to get technical, but what I’ve seen is it’s really the enemy’s way to train our heart. Condemnation, it is the enemy’s way to train our hearts. The Bible says, “If our heart does not condemn us, we can receive from God.” God’s saying, “If you’re not feeling condemned and you come before me, you can take in everything I have for you.”
Just think about that for a second. How busy are we? Condemnation, what it does is it’s a voice of thoughts, bringing up just flaws, failures. Sometimes it’s loud. I’ve heard the loudness of it. Oftentimes, it’s just very subtle. Very underneath, very whispering. It’s like a whispering jerk that just kind of goes, “Yeah, so that conversation was kind of awkward, wasn’t it? You kind of sounded weird.” Or whatever. “Do you really think they’re going to accept you if they know about this happening in your life?”
Feelings of Disconnect with You and God
Melissa : I honestly think, though, yes it is a whisper, but I would say the whisper turns into a four-hour argument fest in your head. That’s the problem. Then I know for me, when I have those days or I have those things going on and I’m not settled in myself, this yuck comes over me. Then I try to pray. There is such a disconnect and distance between me and God because I’m coming to Him feeling already yucky about myself. Being able to receive everything, so when you say that, when I’m going through those days or I’m going through those things, I don’t even know what that looks like to receive in those ways.
Even old references, I can’t even reach for them because the enemy’s got me so locked down in either a situation that’s spinning or things that I feel about myself or just going through those repeated things. Yeah, you need something from the past. You need to be reminded of that. The enemy’s reminding me, reminding me, reminding me. I’m feeling really yucky about myself. It’s just like a pummel, pummel, pummel, pummel, pummel. Going before God, well, forget it.
Mark: Correct. I think that a hundred percent of everyone I’ve ever helped in just a friendly conversation or personal coaching or even just praying for, somewhere in there, this condemnation is there.
Because it negates loving relationship that you’re just accepted in Dad’s family. You’re accepted as His child. As you come before Him, He’s not sitting there going, “Okay,” with His checklist of where you are. He’s just like, “Come on in. Come on in.” It’s hard to realize because of how we were brought up. It’s hard to realize because we transpose our relationship with our Father in Heaven. We take our relationship with our parents, our earthly parents, and we transpose it on Him. It’s very hard. If you’re aware of sin struggles, to a negative place where that supersedes the relationship connection, you can’t connect.
Three Main Themes
Mark: You become focused on yourself. Anyway, what I would like to do is lay down a couple things, is revisit something and what we revisit is three themes that condemnation revolves around. There’s a lot of them. There’s a lot of different things, but I want to talk about three of them today.
1. Black and White Perspective
One is how we feel about ourselves in a black-and-white perspective. We see ourselves through a black-and-white lens in how we view our lives and God. There’s no room for grace. There’s no room for process.
2. Performance Based Living
The second is that then we’re in a performance, striving-based system where what we’re doing and how we’re going about life is performance-based.
3. Spiritual Foundation of Salvation is Rocky
Then what I run into a lot is the fact that many people, their spiritual foundation of even salvation is rocky. That’s something that I want to dissect and begin to talk about and share through is how we reestablish relationship with God.
I think about my kids. I always bring this back to how I deal with my kids. When they come into the room, if my relationship with them starts off with, “Hey, you need to understand something, you did something wrong today,” if I have a lot of interactions with them like that, I’m going to condition them that that’s how their relationship with God is going to be. That’s how we’ve been conditioned.
Disqualifying and Disconnecting You
I still am working a lot of those things out because there was just always this sense that something was wrong with me. It did two things. One, it just me made always feel disqualified, disconnected. It didn’t give any room for God to work on what I really needed to work on. It’s funny the enemy condemns us. It’s not even what God’s agenda is right now. The enemy might be condemning you about something in a relationship in the past, and God’s not even on that subject in your life. He’s dealing with maybe a fear issue about something that He’s wanting you to rest in His love, so perfect love can cast out fear in this other area of your life. He does everything in the context of love and grace, but we don’t have any models for this.
Melissa : No. I think this is such a huge topic. I want us to stay here for as long as we can, actually, because until you and I got together and we started having these conversations, and really in a lot of ways, in basic terms for me to explain this, is my mind really needed to be broadened on who God was. I had a very, very minute look at who God was. I now understand that’s because of how I came into the kingdom.
My salvation experience, I remember it. I was twelve years old. I went to youth group. Most of us come to God out of pain. I think a lot of us have that salvation story. We’re in the depths of despair. My parents were getting a divorce. I had so much pain and I heard a message about God caring for you and loving you. I desperately wanted that. I came to him out of pain. Growing up in the aspects that I did and having the relationship with my parents, obviously, were a huge factor in forming how I saw God. For most of my life, I didn’t have a good understanding of who God was. When I came to Him out of pain, that was my immediate reference. Every time I’m in pain, kind of go to Him in a-
Mark: Sheepish, slave kind of way.
Melissa : In a more victim way of needing Him, rather than engaging Him. I never was explained that aspect of God in relating to me, in fathering me, in loving me. It was more, I wouldn’t say, “You’re going to hell.” I heard those messages, but that wasn’t the crux, which I think a lot of people, unfortunately, have that story. That they came to Him out of, “Well, I don’t want to go to hell.” I think, gosh, back in my early days of even trying to win people to the Lord, it was like, “Well, wouldn’t you rather go to heaven? If heaven’s real, wouldn’t you rather be there?” Scare tactics. I didn’t really have that scare tactic, but I guess really when I think about it deep down, I did because I didn’t really understand the beautiful aspects of God and who He was.
Confusing the Voice the of the Holy Spirit
Even when you’re saying the statement, we’re focused on something and God’s not even on that. That even still sometimes today, I have to stop and go, “Wait, He’s not focused on that?” There was this subtle training I had that whatever was obsessing in your mind, the Holy Spirit’s trying to show you something. The Holy Spirit’s trying to tell you something.
Mark: That’s just not always true.
Melissa : It’s just not.
Mark: Most of the time, it’s not. I’m tired of that being a basis that God’s working on something. Just because my mind is focused on something does not mean the Holy Spirit’s on it. We have to discern what’s pulsating through. I’m being condemned over something. I need to reshape my interaction with God. I need to really take my stand and know how to process this garbage out or else I’ll get lost in a loop that’s never going to help me. It’s never going to change me. Sorry, go ahead.
Melissa : No, no, no. I was going off on a tangent there, but I think this is something that as a believer we need to really revisit. We’re not trying to say that you need to obsessively look at your salvation experience, but I think it’s a heart thing when we look and say, “How do I view God? When I came into the Kingdom, did I do it out of fear? How am I looking at Him?” I think we really need to understand the word of relationship and relating. How am I relating to God? Because I think a lot of us, and we go over this topic and over this topic, and I’m sure you’ve heard other ministries go over this topic, it’s something that we need to always, constantly stay in because how are we looking at Him? We’re looking at Him through the lens of our choices. We’re looking at Him through our circumstances right now.
Our Lens Affects Our Parenting
I’ll get really honest. I had this really big revelation a couple of days ago. I’ve had some disappointments with God that I’m working through. Very honestly, I have some disappointments that I’m working through. We are in a stage where we’re really trying to grow as parents and understand our children and that dynamics with Max. He has autism. What does that look like to parent him? Then Abby. All these things.
We were listening to a message and Mark listened to it and he recommended that I did. One of the big things that I really felt was a huge revelation for me was that I was parenting Abby in her relationship with God out of my hurts with God. It’s affecting everything, right? It’s affecting how I see myself. It’s affecting how I teach her. It was affecting everything.
I think we need to revisit that. How are we viewing God in our horrible circumstances, when we’re good, when we’re bad, when we’re upset? How are we viewing Him and seeing Him in His goodness, rather than as victims, as He’s just wanting to beat you up, you did something wrong, you’re a bad parent, you’re a bad daughter, you’re a bad kid, that He’s always looking at you like that? Because He’s not. Did that make sense or did I just ramble?
Mark: Yeah. It makes perfect sense
Melissa : Sorry. It’s on my heart lately.
Revisiting the Foundation
Mark: We have to revisit our foundation in our relationship with God. In 2004, when I hit that place where I needed help so badly and God brought a man in my life who had mentored me for a season, I said, “I’ve got to start over. I don’t know how to relate to God.” I accepted Him. I think it was four or five years old. It was one of my earliest memories. I just wanted to accept Him. I was like, “Yes, sign me up.” I grew up with that whole concept of, “I want everybody to stand to your feet. Okay, if you were to die tonight, and you don’t know where you’d be in eternity,” and so I’m sitting there going, “I don’t know where I’d be.” You know what I mean?
That’s religious condemning applications caused the open door for that stuff to come in. I’m presenting doubt to you. Do you not know where you’d be tonight? We spend so much time questioning and opening up accusation. We didn’t spend enough time as a church solidifying for people the relationship with God. You’re His kid.
I grew up constantly getting re-saved over and over again. I know there’s arguments of theology in that whole thing. I think I was a teenager. I remember one day going, “Okay, God” – even I knew this doesn’t make sense. Like, “Okay, God, I don’t know if I’m really saved.” I just said, “You know what, God, I’m solidifying this. This is done and I’m not doing this again. I hope you’re okay with that and if I go to hell because of it, I’m fine.” I’ve said those kind of statements because I sometimes just had to break it for me. “If I go to hell because of this area, then so be it because, God, I have done everything that I know in your Word to do.”
It’s like this crazy, crazy burden and weight and yoke that was put upon a lot of people in how they perceived God. I think that there’s some people, they never had a clear conversion. Instead of just waffling through condemnation, just solidify it. Let’s solidify it. I’ve found breaking condemnation comes a moment of decision.
I’m trying to remember what it was. It was probably five years ago. I remember I was battling some really crazy thoughts. I just knew it was the enemy accusing me, of telling me things in motives and thoughts. It was just crazy. I felt like I was mentally ill. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember this. I remember driving in the car and I made a declaration. I said, “You know what, God? This is who I am. This is who I know You are inside of me. These voices and this stuff that keep tormenting me, I’m just not listening to them. If it’s You in there somewhere, You know how to get ahold of me. If I miss something and go to hell because of it, then I’m going to burn in the lake of fire still loving You.”
Melissa : Right. Sometimes you have to take these extremes to jar those thoughts in your mind.
Mark: Right, because here’s the thing about condemnation. The enemy will accuse you over stuff that could be legit. When I mean legit, I don’t mean like God saying it, but like kind of factual stuff. “Hey, you did this in your past to people. You got divorced, or you had sex, or you did this, or you lied.” That could be brought evidence in a court of law. That’s what he does. It could be stuff you actually did.
Here’s the thing. He also throws stuff at you that’s not even you, but you’re like, “Maybe, maybe.” That’s the tricky one for people is that they’ll get a thought and it’s not them. They’ll say, “Maybe this is something that I feel over me.” Of like any strange thought from having affection for somebody outside your marriage or having some kind of thought to hurt someone. It’s not you, but the thought comes to you and it’s just a thought. It’s not sin until you come into agreement with it and manifest it. That’s where we have to break the power. Even there, God doesn’t condemn us
Melissa : Right. I think for me-
Mark: Let me just finish this thought.
Melissa : Oh, okay. Go ahead.
Being Worn Out by Condemnation
Mark: He pulsates these things through us and then over time, it wears us out, and we’re like, “That’s just the way that I am.” I even work with people. They have issues with their gender. Issues with affection to the same sex or whatever. All kinds of different areas. A lot of it starts with that. It starts with these pulsating thoughts we feel condemned over and we don’t realize, “That’s not me. That’s not who God created me to be. I don’t need to be condemned over a thought that comes to me. That’s not me. This is who I am.”
The spiritual foundation, I think, needs to be revisited. How did I come into the kingdom and did I even? Or if I were to ask you, “When did you become born again,” and they go, “Well, I always knew God,” like come on. Let’s solidify this thing so that you have security in Him. Then what’s the foundation based on? It’s because He loves you? His grace is toward you? Even when you see the apostles witnessing to people in the streets, it was never, “Repent or go to hell.” That was not the basis. Hell is real. The lake of fire is real, but that wasn’t the basis for coming in. It was, “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand. Your king is available to you. Receive Him. He is soon coming. Power. Healing. Miracles. The reality of the kingdom. Turn, come in.” That’s way different than, “Come or you’re going to hell.” Hell is a reality, but that’s not the basis.
The basis is also, and this is the thing I think that very few people really live in, is the dimension that you are living on the basis one hundred percent of what someone else did for you. That’s your standing. That’s where we really get taken out is we lose that connection to that, of that Jesus Christ did something on my behalf and because I just simply go from my heart, “I believe that,” I now engage the Living Savior and I’m literally burning out the old me, and I’m now learning what it means to live in the new me. The whole process, God’s not going, “You know, Mark, if you just stop being bitter or if you know if you don’t do this or if you don’t do that,” no. He’s enhancing my identity. He’s enhancing who I am. You’re better than that. Come on up to this level. God’s always calling us higher. That’s His work. Always bringing you higher. The enemy is always hitting you down
Example of Jesus
Melissa : The story that, as you’re talking, is just ringing in my mind is the woman caught in adultery. When I think of a lot of the times when I’m reading the Word or I’m reading stories, I get a literal picture. What did that seriously look like? Because she’s literally caught in adultery. I’m imagining them like she’s probably half-naked. She could have had a sheet around her. They literally caught her in adultery. Dragging her out, she may be sweaty and a hot mess. I’m just laying it out. I think about that.
She’s brought before Him. They’re condemning her. They’re condemning her. This is where we need to understand the power of His forgiveness and how amazing God is, how amazing the whole just being a Christian and being a believer and understanding forgiveness. She is brought in the middle of this and she is forgiven: “Go and sin no more,” when all the condemnation is going on around her. In the very act of it. How much greater is all that stuff in the past is just forgotten and that we need to let go of when He has the power to do that. Do you know what I’m saying?
I’m trying to paint a better picture of it.
Mark: The act there and what was there, the spirit operating over that is still in existence today constantly. I don’t know how people get it or don’t get it, but the posture of Jesus is beautiful. He doesn’t ignore sin. He doesn’t say, “Don’t worry about it.” There’s a lot of preachers out there that you’d be like, “Oh my goodness.”
Melissa : I’m never going to get it right.
Mark: There are preachers out there that it’s like they don’t even acknowledge repentance. They don’t even acknowledge that. You don’t have to do anything. Just stand there. It’s out of balance. You can go out of balance in either direction. The story I like is the woman at the well, who He’s not even supposed to be talking to, this Samaritan. She’s got some man issues. Let’s just put it that way. She’s got a number of men in her life. I love Jesus’ response because He already through discernment, words of knowledge, he already knows this. We’re having conversations today where we’d be like, “Yeah, I’m not really,” like sometimes we’ll talk to somebody and they’re living with somebody, but they’re not married.
Melissa : Right. They’re a little evasive about it.
Mark: There’s this shame: “Yeah, we have this thing.” He kind of like, “Yeah, I know there’s not only that, but there’s a whole bunch of men and this and that.” Just leveled the playing field. Just the exposed the light. She turned on a candle. He went, “Poof,” and the stadium lights came on. He’s like, “Let’s just deal with this.”
Melissa : So beautiful
Mark: Whereas we would be like, “This thing needs to be dealt with.” I feel maturity is knowing how to be neck-deep in people’s battles and stuff and still have a grace that knows how to interact with them.
Melissa : Love people, right.
Black and White Thinking
Mark: What I mean by black-and-white thinking is that your focus in relationship with God is very heavy, right and wrong. It’s a very clear-cut thing. It’s intensely in front of your face. That is, in a lot of ways, the basis of the law and what had kept pouncing at us. Grace comes in. It doesn’t negate right and wrong. It puts relationship as a higher priority.
Melissa : It’s good.
Mark: Love now becomes the high priority. He said, “I love you,” and in relationship we grow. Black-and-white thinking takes us back to the rules, back to the checklist. Did I do my devotions today? Was I a good person today? Did I do enough good to outweigh the bad? It’s like how did we even get here? I find even a lot of people that I work with, they have very, very black-and-white thinking.
Here’s the danger. If you have black-and-white thinking, you’re going to be heavily prone to being accused because you could be like, “Yeah, I did do that wrong in my past.” Or, “I do have that flaw.” You also won’t be able to read the Bible very well. Because the Bible is written for relationship. It’s written in relationship context. You ever read somebody’s letter? The news does it all the time. They read somebody’s letter or email. This whole thing on emails, right?
Melissa : Right.
Mark: Let’s just be honest. Email exchanges are done in relationship. You cannot grasp the full context of what’s going on by nitpicking someone’s letter, taking sentences out, and using them. You don’t know the full context.
Melissa : Because we always read them from a negative sarcasm.
Mark: This led me, this mindset is something I’m still filtering out, still filtering out. In fact, God has me at another level right now of getting free from it at a new level. Because I have a very hyperactive brain in the sense of I’m always thinking, and growing, and new things I’m taking in and stuff. It’s my strength, but it also works against me, because condemnation gets in there. I’ll find myself ten minutes in the thought and I can’t wind out of it. You’ve seen me
Melissa : Mm-hmm (affirmative). I’m like, “Mm-hmm (affirmative). I’ve seen it.
Mark: Oh my goodness. I’m stuck in it and it’s like this insane little spiral.
Melissa : Loopity loop
Mark: When I share it with you, sometimes you just chuckle. It is what I’m spun in.
Melissa : Sometimes you just need to be jarred, so I don’t make it a big deal. “You’ve got to stop.” It’s not that I demean your thoughts, because I help you, but sometimes it just needs to be jarred.
Mark: No, that’s been very helpful because that’s what grace does. Grace goes, “Okay.” It doesn’t remove it. It says, “I’m not going to make that issue the highlighted thing of our relationship.” I find that’s one of the thing grace does. That’s not going to be the number one focus in our relationship interaction. That is very difficult for religious-minded people because they’re like, “No, this must be dealt with and we must be”-
Melissa : “God’s trying to tell you something. You need to listen to that voice.” Yeah
Looking Inward too Much
Mark: The habit that I fell into for many, many years is introspection. That is the incessant looking inward, examining, looking under every rock to try to find.
Melissa : It’s exhausting.
Mark: Now, I’m very good and gifted at helping other people dissect what may be going on behind the scenes that’s driving them and keeping them stuck. I’ve done that in my own life. There’s certain areas where God’s like, “Mark, I’m just growing you in grace and process.” As we move along in these episodes, we’ll share more and more stories. A lot of things we’re growing through and trying to figure out. I want to save those for other episodes where we can hash through it. God’s going, “Mark, this isn’t a black-and-white thing where if you do this and fix this, this will solve it.” I’ve had to really learn that. “There’s not always an A+B=C equation. I want you to grow with me. You’re making this such-and-such issue the highlight of our relationship.”
Melissa : That’s so good and so true. Can you just say that again? Because I think people spin on that thought. Just say that thought again.
Mark: Yeah. For a growing relationship with God, I can’t make a certain issue – a struggle, a sin, a needed breakthrough – the highlighted subject with my relationship with God.
Melissa : That’s so good.
Mark: The issue brings me to seek Him deeper, but if I keep making that the focus, we live in a time like financially we’re looking for breakthroughs. I’m seeking breakthrough for many of my friends that are struggling. We’re seeking for relational breakthrough, family breakthrough. Many, many different areas. That becomes the highlight of my dialogue because we become very introspective.
It’s like, “God, I’ve got to talk to you about these things and I’m focused on these things. Help me.” We take our eyes off Him. We take our eyes off of other people. We’re just so inward, inward, inward. This goes back to a wound God has healed and continues to heal in my life. That’s this black-and-white, always feeling like I’m never connected with God, very introspective.
Melissa : Yeah, that’s a good point
Mark: Whenever I pray, it was always, “Okay, God, I just repent. I want to be clean before you.” Bill Johnson actually wrote a letter, “Breaking Introspection.”
Melissa : It’s so good.
Mark: I actually wrote to his publishing company and they gave me permission to use it. I modified it for my own language and use it, but it was so helpful. “Breaking Introspection.” It’s in a bunch of my books. There’s something that he said in conversation that really helped me. I don’t want to say I’m quoting him, but it was something like this. This is how my brain processes it: “That I’m making a change and it’s this. God, I love you and I want to grow in every area of my life. I don’t want to hold anything back. I want to be fully surrendered. I’m going to, each day, because of Jesus Christ, I’m going to wake up each day and I’m going to assume you and I are good.”
Now I applied that in our marriage because I used to feel that with you. It was nothing you did, but it’s like if I felt any scent of how you were looking, your facial expression looking different, I was like, “Oh, somethings wrong. I did something wrong.”
Melissa : You mean I wasn’t Mary Poppins everyday?
Mark: No, you’re just being a normal person.
Melissa : I’m joking. I’m joking.
Mark: I would just feel that because it’s my issue. I’d be like, “Are you upset with me?” Sometimes you were and sometimes I was picking up on something, but most of the time, it was nothing. You’d go, “No, I’m fine.” I’d go, “I don’t know.” Then I’d try to make it like you’re portraying something. Then I’d realize, no. What helped in our marriage was I’m going to wake up and I’m going to assume everything with Melissa and I is good. If there’s something you really need to talk about, you’re going to bring it up because I’m a safe place for you to bring it up.
Assuming God and I Are Good
I’m establishing that with God, that I’m going to assume that we’re good. I’m open and set for you to show me because this introspective, “what’s wrong with me, what am I doing wrong,” all these things, no. Because here’s the scoop, folks. There’s stuff we do need to get free from, but if you’re in this black-and-white thinking, no one can even deal with it. We can’t dialogue about it because then we’re like, “Oh, yes, I do have that. Oh my goodness.” It’s like, no. Then we can move into an environment of, “Yeah, sure I’ve got those issues. I’ve got those things I’m going through and God’s showing me.” I’m learning to trust a bigger God, that He has the ability to show me exactly what I need to change.
Now, there is a thing you need to have. You need to have a heart that’s open to that. A lot of people don’t have that. A lot of people are just hiding in shame. They don’t want to deal with anything. They don’t want to work through or grow. They just want to ignore their issues and shove them down. God’s like, “No, that’s not going to go anywhere. Come into the light, but I’ll show you what I need to show you as you grow.” It’s more fruitful and a lot more powerful
Melissa : It’s so good
Mark: We went through a lot of different journeys, but I think that if you’re reading the Word and you’re not feeling life in relationship, you’ve got black-and-white thinking. If you look at other people – and we haven’t even gotten to how we talk about other people – and you interact with them in those kind of heavy ways, you’ve got some black-and-white thinking. If you interact with God and you’re not giving room for process, giving room for that transition, you’ve got some thinking, law-based, black-and-white thinking. God’s going, “That’s not going to satisfy it. It’s not going to bring the life that Jesus brought.
Melissa : What would be just a couple little things that you would give to people as some quick advice?
Mark: A couple things.
1. Revisit your foundation with God.
Even in the Book of Revelation, Jesus, He spoke to the church and He came at them pretty strong. He’s like, “You’ve got some stuff that needs to be worked out here.” One of the churches, He says, “Go back to the first works. Go back to the beginning.” I think it was the first love, Ephesus. “You’ve forgotten your first love.”
Melissa : First love, yeah.
Mark: What do you? You just go back. Not in introspection, not in condemnation. Go back because sometimes we get off track. You went off on this trail. What do you do? What’s the natural thing you do? Go back to the fork that you recognize. There we go. Get back. Maybe it was like a process, a way of thinking.
Sometimes what I would do is I would revisit, “Oh, wait a second. I’m not loving myself. I haven’t been loving myself. Oh, and two days ago, I kind of forgot it and got off track. Boom. Back. I love myself. God, you love me. I love myself. Here we go.” For some, they may need to revisit how they came to know Christ. Revisit that. You can do that right now. You can receive Him, believe from your heart, accept Him. Say, “I receive you, Christ Jesus. Let’s start. Put the date down. This was new.” I like that. That’s not being legalistic. It’s just having certainty. It’s just having a sense of-
Melissa : Life and freedom and understanding
Melissa : Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
2. Getting away from condemnation based people influences.
Mark: I think that we also have to consider there may be people that you’re around, environments that you’re in, church, relationships, people, that are toxic with condemning, religious legalism. If you’re hearing that come off of the pulpit, where you’re just drowning in these feelings, I would say, “Man.” Now, we can’t always blame it on the preachers. Please hear me on this because if you have a condemning lens-
Melissa : That’s all you’ll hear.
Mark: They could say anything and that’s all you’re hearing. A lot of people have a condemning, black-and-white lens in their life on them and everything they hear. It’s like, “Oh, these people.” Be very, very careful of how we just sometimes lump up a church with they’re condemning, but there’s a lot that are heavily beating people down. It’s not right.
3. Revisit what it means to receive love.
Then we have to revisit learning what it means to be loved. What I do in relationships is I learn to receive, I practice receiving. They say, “I can’t receive from God. I can’t receive.” Okay, so practice that in relationship. When someone compliments you, thank them for it. When someone takes time to talk with you, be appreciative of it. Recognize it: “You know, I just appreciate it and I receive that.” If someone says something of praise for you, acknowledge it: “I receive that. Thank you.”
Learn to be a receiver getting something you didn’t earn or whatever. You’re just being blessed by the grace. Because the Bible says, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Grace is something we’re constantly growing in because it’s so rich. It’s so deep. It’s His great love for us.
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