Monday, May 3, 2010

#169 What is condemnation (part 1)

What is Condemnation?

I am actually writing this for a couple of people in particular, but this is a subject that we need to discuss in order to build faith in some who are either looking at possible prison time, or those who struggle with it while they are in prison…and even those who have done time.

This is a controversial subject, because the common thought is that by law, when you screw up, you must be punished. So the idea of any person who has broken the law trying to “talk spiritual” is foolish, because if they were so spiritual, they would never have been arrested or in trouble to begin with. The general consensus says that if you are guilty of anything, you deserve whatever happens…period.

If you don’t mind, I am going to stomp on that for a few minutes.

And before I begin, let’s agree that the person writing this blog (Nolaw97) is NOT an angel, does not have a halo around his head, does not walk on water, and was not voted “top citizen of the year” by any newspaper or magazine.

Which makes this all the more impossible for me to try to share what I am about to share…but I am going to anyway.

The first thing I want to do is share with you the definition of “condemned” as from my Oxford American Dictionary:

Condemn: to pronounce guilty, to convict, to sentence.

Now, if you don’t mind, I am going to give you two other words that I will use in this blog:

Grace: Favor, goodwill, God’s loving mercy towards mankind.

Mercy: Refraining from inflicting punishment or pain on an offender or enemy (ect) who is in one’s power.

Now, I want you to remember those three words…they play heavily on this blog today.

Here’s the scenario…do you have a right to seek God’s grace and mercy if you are admittedly guilty of what you have done, or does man have the absolute right of justice?

Interesting idea, huh?

And the answer to this is split in only two ways….carnal and spiritual, which makes this incredibly difficult to talk about. The reason for this is because lots of people see the world through the senses, and have no idea how much of it is spiritual. We judge things based on what we see, feel, hear and touch. We judge people by what we read in the newspapers, or what we see in the news, or what we hear from other people, and we immediately give those same people the “expert” status since they are giving us the news.

We trust local newscasters completely simply because they are reading what is on a monitor just off the camera screen, but they are just as human as anybody else. We tear down people like Tiger Woods for his mistake, when not a single one of us walking the earth is any better.

Carnally speaking, we are not satisfied unless we can condemn another person for the slimmest of reasons.

And we know how this goes as far as prison issues, heck, I have lived this for awhile. Even so called Christians will run full speed away from ex felons simply because it is the “righteous” thing to do. Not ALL Christians…but MANY.

We are tuned and conditioned to condemn others, which is the exact opposite of what God commanded us to do…to love one another. But this becomes very difficult to say when we talk about law.

I mean, how can you ask a victim of a crime to “love” or “forgive”? It sounds so easy to say unless it is YOUR loved one.

And let me make this clear, in no way an I trying to dilute the importance and sadness that victims of crime feel, in no way have I ever done that in my writings, so don’t sit there and think I am trying to defend the guilty.

But yet, this is EXACTLY what this blog is attacking. Most people feel that the “guilty” deserve no mercy, no grace, only condemnation, which to some, believe is justice.

There is indeed a very strong place for man’s law, I will be the first to tell you that there are people in prison who don’t care about anybody but themselves, and would do anything to get what they want. But I can also tell you there are lots of guys and women in prison who made a mistake, some off circumstantial situations, that sit in prison, wishing they could make amends.

(and then there are some that are not guilty at all…)

But because we are carnal, in the flesh, one has to wonder where God plays in all this. Does man have the right to overrule God when it comes to condemnation. What is condemnation, and how is this applied carnally and spiritually? And if the two are opposite, which is greater?

Carnally speaking, many people believe condemnation does not involve grace or mercy…that is incorrect.

Every case in law allows for grace and mercy…and you don’t have to be a lawyer to know that. This does not mean every case will AWARD grace and mercy, but it is always there. Many things determine if a person who is condemned will be punished…and mind you, the two does NOT always go hand in hand.

Let me give you two examples:

Example one: A 20 year old who has been arrested for stealing, and has a record of being arrested 10 times in the last 3 years, no job, never graduated from school, not in church, and known to hang around other guys who had been arrested in the past.

Example two: A 20 year old who has been arrested for stealing, but is a first time offense. Graduated from high school, was currently in college, member of his local church and worked part time with a charitable organization.

Now, for sake of argument, let’s assume that both stole something worth over $100. Both are indeed guilty…are both subject to the same condemnation?

To the regular (citizen) it does not matter what a person is about, if they broke the law, they deserve to be persecuted to the fullest extent…but this is not how it really works. It CAN happen that way, but often times there are outside circumstances that can influence whether a person can get some grace or mercy, even if both are found guilty.

See, being found guilty does not ALWAYS mean punishment. The reason for this is although the law is written in words…it is carried out by people. The old saying that “justice is blind” is not true, because justice is carried out by human beings, and some of those people have a heart…some kinder and more merciful than others.

In the examples above, a kind judge might give the first guy time in prison, but the other he might give probation. Same charge, different results. This means that grace and mercy are actually applied in carnal law.

We see it all the time, sometimes “grace and mercy” can be paid for. If you have a lawyer that you are paying $10,000 for, and a guy has a court appointed lawyer, in many cases your money might be able to BUY you justice. Not always, but sometimes. This proves that carnally speaking, you can gain favor or goodwill with the right amount of money, but you can also gain that same good will from a judge that is willing to refrain from inflicting punishment on you, since it is in his power to do so.

But this balance is based on the guilty and the innocent. It would not be justice if I stole my neighbor’s car, was found guilty and set free by the judge’s grace and mercy, because there would be no justice to the victim. So carnally the judge has to balance the law with justice but also, if he so chooses, to weigh in some grace and mercy.

Most of what I am saying is based on carnal thinking the “regular” way man thinks, but the truest form of this isn’t based on what man thinks…it is based on what God thinks, and this is where we miss it all too often.

Be careful of what you are reading here, I am not issuing a license for people to go out, break the law and hide behind the Bible…that actually is the carnal way of thinking. But spiritually speaking there is a different way that this is viewed, and it is based on the things we cannot (or refuse) to see…our spirit.

Only God can see that.

And by spirit we often times call it “heart”, the deepest beliefs of man. But even that can be carnal if we are not spiritual in what we do. Lots of times we think we are doing the right thing, when our flesh lies to us about what is really going on.

Example: Last week I read an article about how a man literally died on the sidewalk as people walked by him. The man was stabbed and needed help but nobody helped him, so he died. As it turned out, the same man actually prevented a robbery, but was stabbed by the robber. The man performed a heroic act, and for that kindness, died with nobody helping him.

Now I say to you, EVERY person who walked by him COULD HAVE HELPED. Whether it was one person, or 50 people, somebody could have, and should have helped, but nobody did. Nobody wants to get involved. But I say to anybody reading this, each one of those people had the spiritual charge to do something…and they refused.

Every person knew in their hearts that the right thing to do was to help that man, but the carnal side of them took over, whether fear, apathy or whatever, and they chose NOT to help. Some of those people might be in the front pew this coming Sunday, talking about “Thank you Jesus, Praise God” but when put in a situation to do something to help somebody, they was as far away from God as possible.

Hmmm…isn’t THAT condemnable in God’s eyes…….

So when we talk about condemnation, there is a very clear difference in what is carnal, as in man’s laws, and what is spiritual, as in God’s eyes. But if you ARE indeed guilty, and admit so, are you then subject to man’s punishment, or God’s mercy…what if the two are complete opposites?

How can we admit our mistakes but then ask for mercy from our condemnation? Is that even possible? I mean, shouldn’t justice have the final say? Can God, in all His righteousness, deny justice to man? I think if you see this only carnally, the answer will side with man, because we think only with out feelings and emotions…not knowing that we have no idea of the wider scope of the human being as God does.

Again, some of you are going to twist this and make it seem like I am implying that if I go steal a car tonight, and get caught and condemned, that I should be able to rationalize or justify my freedom by running to God. I have heard lots of officers scoff at this, when they see inmates trying to read the Bible. Their response sometimes is “you shoulda done that BEFORE you got arrested”.

And carnally it seems to make sense…but spiritually it is not true at all.

What is condemnation in God’s eyes, and does it actually conflict with man’s law? I actually had a very long fight with this when I was in county jail. As you guys know, I was in county jail for about 17 months before I went to prison, and of those 17 months, I spent all but 10 days in a single cell…well, actually 9 days since my first day in jail was in a suicide cell.

During my time in that cell, I fought constantly on the idea of what condemnation is in God’s eyes, and what it meant to me carnally. Obviously, I was trying to build faith for a miracle, so I could go home, but the facts were natural and I was in big trouble. But I read scriptures that said that God answers prayer to those that believe. What if what I believed was contrary to what the law said?

I mean, what if I was guilty by the law, but was praying for a miracle? Is it righteous for God to help me when by man’s law I looked guilty? It seemed to be hypocritical. But by thinking this way, I was debating if God was absolute…if He can make mistakes. The Bible says to let every man be a liar, and God be true. If so, then the words in the Bible should ALWAYS be the last word, and the greatest. Man’s laws are good in the carnal sense, but God’s laws are even greater, because it has no flaw.

Take for example our very own Declaration of Independence. Written with the best intentions, and the backbone of our country. Yet we know that at the time it was written, there was indeed slavery. At the moment those men got together to write that Declaration of Independence, they were looking for freedom from another country, yet failed to acknowledge the true FREEDOM of every man. It wasn’t like it was not going on, in fact some of the very fathers of our country had slaves. So we kinda live under the irony of fighting for freedom when we ourselves were practicing slavery.

Although written with good intentions, it wasn’t perfect because it neglected the rights of EVERY man. But when you talk of spiritual law, it covers not just the carnal, but it also covers the spiritual of every person. This is because it is based on God’s wisdom, not man’s intelligence and partiality.

Ask yourself this question…do you know EVERYTHING about ANYTHING? That includes yourself. We might know a lot about many things, but nobody knows everything, and “everything” includes the deepest parts of man. Only God knows that. Its kinda like when we talk about what we’d do if we came into $5,000,000, and all the things we would do. Even if you really intended to so the things you say, there are a lot of factors that could easily change what you think you’d do. You really don’t know what you’d do until it happens, because you aren’t really in tuned to what your heart would lead you to do.

But spiritually speaking, God knows exactly what you would do, because He knows your heart…and this is where condemnation resides. It also brings in a word that is often used in court when it comes to grace and mercy…REMORSE.

See, a court or judge or lawyer or DA can’t really determine that, because it is a feeling. You can say it and not be sincere, or you can honestly say it and nobody will believe you. This is because it is still based on heart, something God knows perfectly.

And this is where condemnation resides with God when it comes to spiritual matters. God sees the ENTIRE picture with you, and as the Ultimate Judge, He knows your heart, and has the power to grant grace and mercy, no different from any carnal judge. It’s kinda like the line from a Christmas song….

“He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake; he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake”

(I am so ready for Christmas…even though it is early May…sigh….)

So do you have a right to appeal to God for mercy, absolutely, but understand, you can’t fool God. You can fool any human being on the planet, because we are all limited in what we know, but you cannot fool God. He knows if you are sincere in what you say, or if you are just trying to “get over”.

There is no question that man’s law is good, I do not for a second argue that because it serves society with the best intentions. But every law is made by people with particular feelings, meaning it is always subject to flaws. Generations ago it was against the law for women and African Americans to vote…back then the law SEEMED good, but today we see it was clearly wrong…and thus not perfect.

Even in the Bible this applies. The basis of condemning and crucifying Jesus was based on what seemed to be righteous by the people back then. To them, they thought they were doing the right thing, but in fact was not acting in a spiritual way, rather a carnal one.

The foundation of condemnation begins with wisdom. To know ALL the details gives you the right to judge…this is why God warns us not to judge others let you yourself be judged. There are people I don’t like, and admittedly think they are wrong in many things, but spiritually I know I should not do that. I don’t need to tell you again of the two Christian radio stations I helped only to be snubbed unfairly. I don’t need to tell you about how many prison support sites I have written for, and got banned just for mentioning that I have a book (for fear that I would solicit sales).

In order to properly and perfectly condemn, you must first be perfect in your judgment. In order to perfectly judge, you must have the perfect wisdom. In the Bible, Paul identifies where the perfect wisdom comes from, and even identifies that there are different forms of wisdom.

This is important folks, because it builds a foundation and faith that even though you feel condemned, there is a very strong source to help you get through this and to overcome.

In the Bible, look for the second chapter of I Corinthians to see what I am talking about.

In this chapter, Paul admits himself of his guilt in how he used to treat the early Christians, which proves again that condemnation can be based on how you see yourself carnally, and how God sees it. By all rights, Paul was wrong in what he was doing in persecuting the early Christians, he admitted that. But after he changed, he was a very different man.

He identifies that there are different wisdoms, and mentions that once he changed, he didn’t speak with man’s wisdom, but in the power of God. He then warns us to NOT put our faith in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

That’s because we think we know it all, when we don’t. We like to condemn everybody else based on two specks of info, when God sees the entire universe concerning us. He knows things about us that we don’t know, and He certainly knows things about us that nobody else knows.

Paul also identifies other forms of wisdom, which are, compared to God, worthless. These include the wisdom of the world and the princes of the world, which as Paul says, “comes to nought”.

When he says “princes” I am confident he means two things, one carnal, one spiritual. Carnally he means the authorities of the world, those who we give reverence to, like clergy, law, royalty and the like. The spiritual meaning of “princes” means the devil, and those of his “ilk”. Paul is saying that these “princes” don’t know nearly as much as they think they do.

And if you think about this, it must be true concerning condemnation. The people who crucified Jesus thought they were acting according to a law, which gave them the “right” to condemn. This was based on what they THOUGHT they knew. They thought they knew all they needed to know in order to condemn Jesus…but they were wrong. They didn’t know it all because they didn’t really know who Jesus was…

As the verse goes that Paul mentions, “which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”.

So condemnation is flawed if done so by the flesh. Simply put, we don’t know as much as we think we know when we judge by carnal thinking. But this does not mean the law is wrong, even though it is flawed. We are not talking about whether man’s law is in great error, we are talking about condemnation with grace and mercy. But what I wanted to establish is that often times when we condemn, we need to step back and try to see things as God might see them.

But have we gotten any closer to whether a person who admits guilt deserve God’s grace, or man’s condemnation?

A person who truly regrets what they did, and seeks grace and mercy can often debate inside of themselves if they “deserve” God’s mercy, or if they “deserve” man’s punishment for his guilt.

The great irony of man’s form of “righteousness” is that it is hypocritical. We expect people to be perfect, when no man can be. We fool ourselves to think that if you have never been in jail or prison, or never arrested, then we are “pure”. Although this is credible in some areas of life, it clearly isn’t righteous. No person is perfect, and we are all flawed. There are people who will never see a prison cell that are just as flawed as the worst ones in prison…yet society does not believe that, because it is not something they can fully understand. Folks, we are ALL guilty of something, if you speak carnally. And as such, we are all subject to judgment and condemnation.

Paul talks about this about himself, if you read II Corinthians chapter 12, and it also reveals a critical part to condemnation…that being grace. In this chapter he talks about the infirmities he had, as the Bible says, “a messenger of Satan”. Paul was just as zealous about serving God as he originally was about persecuting the early Christians, so this was a guy that wanted to do the very best he could for God. But these infirmities, he felt was hindering him from doing his best for God. These flaws kept him from, perhaps to him, “being in God’s perfect will”, or so he thought.

Our flaws make us feel guilty to ourselves, and often times we will condemn ourselves, since we know we are not perfect. Society does a very good job of condemning us anyway, why make it that much easier? But the verse in this chapter explains a powerful way to overcome that:


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