For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
—1 John 3:20
If the God who knows ALL things—what you’ve done, who you’ve been, the mistakes you’ve made, the mistakes you will make—loves you and accepts you and forgives, then your own heart has no power to condemn you. This, my friends, is the key to guilt-free living.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” Your own heart will blame you, condemn you, and criticize your choices heaping guilt upon guilt when you make mistakes. But your heart is not your Savior. Your heart does not have final authority over your life. God is greater than your heart, and it’s His grace that says … try again.
Society rewards success. Institutions reward achievement. Careers reward accomplishments. Athletics rewards victory. The list goes on and on. We are taught from a very young age the importance of performance. But the grace of God is not something that can be earned. His mercy does not run out. And perhaps most importantly, God isn’t just waiting to reward us for our good deeds; He wants to rescue us from our failures.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
As long as you perform correctly, you feel like you can have confidence toward God. But He’s not asking you to come to Him boldly on your perfect days when you’ve checked every box. He wants you to come into His presence on a rotten week, when you’re in real need of mercy and grace.
As Christians, we cannot walk around with our heads hung low and our shoulders slouched carrying the weight of shame and guilt. That’s condemnation. Condemnation will crush your soul. Condemnation will gnaw at you. And the devil is such a con artist that he puts on the robe of temptation, seduces and tempts you until the moment you break. Then, as fast as you fall, he runs to the dressing room, takes off temptation and comes back out as the accuser. Immediately when you fall into the very temptation he’s been dangling in front of you, he starts to accuse you and blame you and condemn you.
Condemnation is the enemy’s agent to drive you away from God. Conviction is the Holy Spirit’s agent to drive you to God.
Conviction doesn’t make you feel guilt and shame. It reminds you of what you already know—that you’ve made a mistake and you don’t want to keep making that same mistake. It exposes your true intentions; maybe for a moment you were angry, you were weak, you were jealous, but down deep your desire is to do good a live the higher calling to which God has called you. When your heart condemns you, there is one greater than your heart. God doesn’t just see the deed, He sees you.
When you hear bad, hypocrite, failure, quit, or unworthy, that’s not the voice of God. God says hold on, try again, get back up, grace is coming, forgiveness is coming.
Romans 5:8 said God commended His love to us while we were still sinners—Christ died for us. He loved us when we were sinners. How much more does He love us now that we are sons and daughters of Christ? And if our heart condemns us, we need to understand that He’s greater. His voice is greater. His cross is greater.
Consider Simon Peter. He’s the one who denied Jesus three times, and every time that rooster would crow, don’t you know his heart condemned him? He heard “Traitor. Denier. Liar. Pathetic so-called preacher.”
But God knows all things. God saw a Pentecostal preacher in Acts 2. He saw the man who would preach the message that would birth the church. While Satan was condemning, God was looking upon Simon and saw his future. He saw his ultimate choices and the intent of his heart, not one choice in a moment of weakness.
In John 21, when Peter had finally had all he could take, he goes fishing. In a sense, you could say he gave up to return to his old ways, what he used to do. And his buddies went right along with him. They fished all night and caught nothing. The next morning as the sun is rising, they’re getting their empty nets in and about to call it a night. And they see a silhouette as the sun is coming up behind them of a tall, lean Galilean. And He calls out over the water: did you catch any fish? Of course they said no. And then Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side and they would find plenty. Even though they had already tried, they’d fished from every angle all night long, but in the midst of their failure, Jesus told them to try again!
This is how they KNEW it was He. Even though Christ had been crucified and died, they did not question whom this man was appearing to them, because only Jesus would tell you to try again where you had failed. He knew they were about to give up on him, but He saw their hearts and He saw their true potential.
God knew Simon Peter would deny Christ—God is greater than our heart, and knows all things—but He also knew he would be the one to start His church, to preach the fire, to lead the disciples, and in the end, to consider himself unworthy of the same death as Jesus.
If you failed, try again. If you messed up, try again. If you dropped the ball, try again. If you messed up, get up and try again. Don’t let guilt and condemnation drive you to go back to your old ways. God’s not throwing you away because of your deeds, just like He doesn’t love you because of your deeds. He loves you in spite of them.
You know the first people Peter preached grace and forgiveness to were the very people who crucified Jesus. They literally had His blood on their hands. Even to them, grace was extended. Your heart doesn’t have the last say. Your guilt will only condemn you if you allow it to. God’s grace is extended to everyone—saints and sinners alike, gentiles and Jews, the lost AND the saved.
When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
When your heart is overwhelmed, run to the rock. The one who’s greater than your heart and knows all things. “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” He knows you didn’t mean it. He knows you want to change. He knows you’re frustrated. He knows you’ve tried and failed. He knows all things. And He loves you. And He accepts you. And He doesn’t want you to wait and run to Him in your righteousness; He wants you to come to the rock in your time of need. When you need mercy, come. When you need grace, come. When you need forgiveness, come. When you need strength, come. When you need cover, come. When you need confidence, come.
Jesus is the way to guilt-free living. Not so that you can live any way you want, but so no matter what you do, there is a road back through grace.
Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.