Read Romans 8:1-2
1-2 No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death. (JBP)
All too often, stories are told of people attending certain churches who emerge from those churches rather battered and bruised by the preaching or even by the wider culture present in them. It seems the idea is to come to church to be told what a miserable sinner you are and how, even though you are a lowly worm, God has decided to be gracious to you. The problem is that this message of grace is offered rather gracelessly and is swamped by the overriding reminder of your sinfulness.
What is happening in such cases is a confusion between conviction and condemnation. Conviction of sin is right and good and healthy. It is the Spirit’s job. He reminds us we are not as we ought to be and points us to the mercy available in Jesus, all the time reminding us we are loved to the limit.
Condemnation is unhealthy and destructive. It is the work of the evil one, sadly aided at times by insensitive preachers or teachers who work out their own anger at their own sin on their hapless congregations. Condemnation points not to grace but to a deep pit of unworthiness. It shames us, blots out the redeeming grace of Jesus.
Conviction makes us uncomfortable but only in order to pursue the comfort of grace. Condemnation makes us oppressed in order to consign us to hopelessness. We ought to emerge from our church gatherings deeply aware of sin, but so much more aware of grace. God’s goodness must always triumph over our badness.