“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’ This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, at though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote of the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11)
Every counselor has heard these words, “I know God has forgiven me, but I can’t forgive myself.” Condemnation is a deadly inner wound. Self-loathing and self-destructive tendencies have their roots in condemnation. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
The horrible double hurt of sexual trauma rests in the wound of condemnation. Somebody did a filthy thing to me, therefore I am filthy. The wounded think, “I am condemned because of what I did, which is because of who I am, which is the result of what was done to me.” This is the deadly cycle of condemnation. These angry religious men were trying to set a trap for Jesus using condemnation.
To say that God forgives but that I cannot is to say I am more righteous than God. This is the worst idolatry of all. My triune idol consists of; my pain, my wound, and my judgment. This is the terrible three-in-one. Addicted to pain; I deny God’s healing power. Magnifying my wound; I make it bigger than God Himself. My judgment determines I have committed a sin that is so big that even God cannot forgive it. This is the idolatry of self. Condemnation is the deadly poison that puts what I believe above what God says. God’s word becomes ineffective against such idolatry because we believe the lie rather than the truth.
Worship means much more than going to church to sing and to pray. Worship means I stop bowing at the altar of self. Worship turns our thoughts away from ourselves, first to God and then to others. The adulterous woman was set free from condemnation when she made Jesus her Lord. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Worship restores the perspective needed to break condemnation. The emotionally wounded are often referred to as unbalanced. This means that their emotions are out of control. Their emotions are controlling them. When our emotions get out of balance, they cause us to fall. The purpose of inner healing is to restore our emotional balance.
Healthy emotions can be felt and expressed without exaggeration. It can be said that all mental illness to one extent or another is an imbalance of self-centeredness. We become imbalanced when we love ourselves too much, or too exclusively, or too little. We are out of balance when we spend too much time thinking of ourselves. This is not healthy. Worship helps to restore a healthy emotional balance. Worship is therapy and like all therapy requires discipline. Daily forcing our thoughts upward and outward is hard emotional work, but we must break old bad mental habits and learn to think God’s thoughts.
The reward for the therapeutic work of worship is balanced for our wounded emotions. The reward is revealed in three ways: Gratitude – We stop complaining all the time and become thankful. Humility – We stop pretending life is all about us and climb down from the throne of our heart. Other-Center Living – We start focusing on others rather than thinking of ourselves all the time. Worship is summed up in these words, “You shall have no other Gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)