Condemnation or Conviction
Years ago I read a news report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that greatly troubled me:
“An 11-year-old girl…killed herself…. Donyelle McCall shot herself in the chest Wednesday morning with a .25-caliber pistol, Detective Pete Carrillo said Thursday…. When her mother came home at about 11 a.m., she looked for her daughter…and found the girl lying in her room, suffering from a single gunshot wound to her chest and the mother’s .25-calliber gun beside her….”
Donyelle left behind a note which read, in part, “Mom, I didn’t want to live to tell about this, so goodbye…. I’m sorry you don’t have a daughter anymore. I didn’t want to hurt you like this, but I didn’t want to go through it. I wanted to grow up and be somebody, but now that I’m dead I have to go down…. I love you so much, but I messed up. I know that I have to live with it, but the way dad walked out of here I can’t get over it. I wish we could just forget about it, but it’s not that easy.”
What was the horrible thing Donyelle did from which there was no coming back? What was the terrible thing she did for which she felt that she had to take her life? Her father caught her smoking a cigarette.
What Donyelle did was not horrible, but a voice inside of her convinced her that her future was now hopeless. A voice insider of her condemned her.
This report about Donyelle hit me hard because I know that voice as well. I have often heard that voice screaming at me that I am a failure, that I am a disgrace, that I am no good and never will be, that I am stupid, that I am incompetent. That voice reminds me harshly of my failures and weaknesses. It exaggerates my faults and failures and dismisses anything good I have ever done. That voice tells me that my worth comes from my accomplishments and goes on to convince me that my failures and faults far surpass anything good I have done, leaving me far in the negative column as far as worth is concerned.
Whenever I listen to that voice I find myself in despair and I make a greater mess of myself.
What I am beginning to discover, though, is that this voice of condemnation does not come from God.
The voice that condemns me is the voice of Satan, whose aim is to tear us down and fill us with despair. He is identified as our accuser (Revelation 12:10), and he is described as a prowling lion on the outlook for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:12).
Jesus, on the other hand, came not to condemn the world but to save us (John 3:17).
He had a perfect opportunity to condemn a woman caught in adultery. He said to all gathered around, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). The one without sin was Jesus; he was the one who could have thrown a stone at her. But instead of throwing a stone at her, he said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
The voice we hear inside of our head or soul condemning us is the voice of Satan. God’s voice to us is different. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin so as to lead us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and assures us of our forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9), and affirms that in Christ we are God’s beloved children (Romans 8:16).