When Our Heart Condemns Us
September 27, 2020 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (1John 3:19-22)
A. How many of you ever had a car where the Fuel Gauge didn’t work?
1. When the tank was empty, the needle pointed to “E.” When the tank was half full, the gauge still read empty. No matter how much fuel you put into that car’s tank, the gauge gave the same message, “Your tank is empty.”
2. I had a few cars that had problems like that!
3. And because the gauge was not a reliable indicator of how much fuel was in the petrol tank, you have to learn to disregard its message. If you believed the guage, if you thought it was telling you the truth, you would never get out and drive anywhere! You would believe that you had no petrol, even though you had just stopped at the Petrol Station and filled the car to the brim!
4. Well, Human emotions are a gauge, an indicator of the fullness or emptiness of our lives and relationships.
a. When feelings are great, we confidently set out experience life fully
b. And when feelings are down, we worry that some aspect of our lives is running low.
c. The problem with feelings is that they are a gauge that often breaks.
d. When you are in a season of depression, your feelings usually give you the wrong information. Like a broken petrol gauge, depression can give you a constant message of emptiness.
e. You probably will read that flawed feeling in various ways:
1) I am a complete failure.
2) My life is a total wreck.
3) No one loves or respects me.
4) I cannot be right with God and feel this way.
5) Why even try to get up today?
5. What do you do when you realize that your emotional gauges are broken?
6. In simple words, know this, God is greater than our feelings.
a. What God says about who we are and our standing with him is reality – is the truth.
b. God already knows everything about you and me – and yet stays committed to His people.
c. His faithfulness to us does not depend on our feelings.
7. Evidently, God is a higher authority than our hearts in determining whether we are going to be okay or not.
a. When our feelings are broken, and empty, we may feel far from God, unable to pray, and constantly fall short of the purpose we believe God has for our lives.
b. But our feelings are not the final authority. They do not have the last word.
c. God is greater than our hearts.
d. And what He says about us overrules absolutely everything our hearts may be constantly telling us!.
B. Sad Fact… Our Heart is Very Good at Condemning Us
1. Instead of saying, if our brethren condemn us, God is greater than the judgmental brethren… it doesn’t say that!
2. Instead of saying, if the world condemn us (and they do), 1st John 3:20 does not say, God is greater than the world.
3. It says, “if our HEART condemns us, God is greater than our heart!”
4. So, out of all our enemies, our worst enemy is our heart
5. The human heart is the source of all our problems
6. We don’t NEED the devil to do accuse and point the finger at us and judge us and condemn us
7. We don’t even need our friends or family pointing out our hypocrisies
8. OUR OWN HEART accuses us – it knows itself – it is part of our conscience, and it often acts like judge and jury AGAINST us
C. What does it feel like when our heart condemns us?
1. We feel GUILTY, condemned, judged as wrong
2. We feel CRUSHED under the weight of the wrongs we have done
3. We feel GUTTED like a fish on a table, emptied of all life
4. Overwhelmed, beaten, knocked down and unable to get up
5. Without hope
7. It is an Unbearable feeling when your own heart says you are a failure!
D. God is greater than our heart – but do we believe it?
1. Listen again to 1John 3:20… “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”
2. An obvious truth that we often do not believe
3. Do you know what people believe?
a. They believe what they feel
b. They believe what they hear about themselves
c. They believe what they accomplish
4. People trust in fancy wedding ceremonies to make their marriage last, amazing rituals to make people good, and constant “affirmations” to pump-up and fill people’s hearts and make them feel important, feel loved, feel good about themselves, feel successful, feel like getting up and going to work
5. But when times get hard, and it’s years later, that’s when the marriages fail, and depression sets in, and anger replaces all the joy.
6. And that is NOT the Christian’s life!
E. Last time, I showed you a great Example of having a condemning heart… Peter was the example (Luke 22:54-62)
1. Here he is, DENYING even knowing Jesus, not once, but THREE TIMES
2. And in the end, Peter loudly CURSES Jesus’ name with his own mouth – PAUSE…
3. It was at that moment that he sees Jesus turn and look right at him – STAB!
a. Peter is stabbed from within! Guilty, gutted, crushed, ruined, no hope now of ever being with Jesus again
b. Walks away from Jesus and everything he had loved for the past 3 ½ years
c. And notice… Peter WEPT BITTERLY
1) Weeping is a deep sorrow, that cries abundant tears
2) Peter wept “Violently”, which means, with convulsions - heaving
3) Couldn’t stop crying – his heart was condemning him over and over and over
d. That was how low Peter felt
4. How does he handle that? How does he recover from that? It should have stopped him dead in his tracts and ruined his Christian life and destroyed his faith!
F. So, How Does a Christian Survive It? How do we deal with it?
A. We DON’T Manage Our Heart! God Does! (1John 3:20)
1. Look at the two different focus’ in the verse “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”
a. You can give all your attention to the heart – to its scars, its memories, its brokenness
b. Or focus all your attention on God
1) Which is greater?
2) Which knows more?
3) Which one has the ability to actually fix things that are broken and messed up?
c. We cannot handle the accusations, the guiltiness, the stabbings and screaming of our hearts against us
d. You can’t ignore a guilty heart – not for very long – God won’t let you, and sin never lets you get away with it – it has to be dealt with!
1) People try Drink and drugs, and only dig deeper holes
2) People turn to loads of Counsellors and counselling – friends and family - all of them try to do what they can, but the human heart is too messed up for another human heart to fix!
2. Thankfully, the God of heaven is Greater than…
a. ALL My Feelings – all of them are like a broken Petrol Gauge that does not tell me the truth (Jer 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
b. ALL My Past – all of it!
c. ALL My Stupidity
d. And ALL My Future
e. God is greater, bigger, more powerful, more patient, never worries, smarter, wiser, cooler… Than anything your heart can dream up, or worry about, or panic about!
f. That is why I no longer worry about hell, or condemnation – I am eternally secure in Christ because GOD has saved me – not my own efforts! GOD is greater than my sin, and God will keep me from falling! AMEN!
B. We Have Got to Learn to Trust that God is Greater!
1. The Example from Jehoshaphat (2Chronicles 20:1-15)
2. All Israel is in Trouble (2Chronicles 20:1,2)
a. 2Ch 20:1 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came AGAINST Jehoshaphat to battle.
b. 2Ch 20:2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.
3. It Terrified Everyone (2Chronicles 20:3)
a. 2Ch 20:3 And Jehoshaphat feared...
4. Jehoshaphat Changed What He Was Looking At (2Chronicles 20:3-5)
a. 2Ch 20:3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
b. 2Ch 20:4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
c. 2Ch 20:5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
d. Think about it – they had two choices:
1) Believe they were defeated
2) Or look to God who is greater than their enemies, and TRUST HIM
5. He Remembered How Mighty and Great God is (2Chronicles 20:6-7)
a. 2Ch 20:6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
b. 2Ch 20:7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
c. God, is the God in heaven
d. Ruling over ALL kingdoms – even over the heathen ones
e. Having all power and might – almighty!
f. Do you remember that Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”
g. Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
6. He Remembered the Invitation to Pray and Trust Him over his fears (2Chronicles 20:8-13)
a. 2Ch 20:8 And they [YOUR PEOPLE] dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
b. 2Ch 20:9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and CRY UNTO THEE in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
c. 2Ch 20:10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
d. 2Ch 20:11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
e. 2Ch 20:12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
f. 2Ch 20:13 And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
7. That’s When God Took Over (2Chronicles 20:14,15,17)
a. 2Ch 20:14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
b. 2Ch 20:15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.
c. 2Ch 20:17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
C. Do you know how Peter handled HIS condemning heart?
1. He didn’t. Jesus did!
2. After Jesus rose from the grave, one of the angels at the empty tomb said these words…
a. Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
b. Mark 16:7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he [JESUS] goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
c. Peter was welcomed back – loved – forgiven because of GRACE! Not because of Peter’s own goodness, or faith, or ability to keep from failing!
d. Thank God!
D. When the Bible says, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” What does that mean?
1. It means, you NEED God
a. YOUR OWN HEART CONSTANTLY IS TELLING YOU YOU NEED GOD
b. You need His help - His presence - His strength
c. His peace - His wisdom - His righteousness - His grace
d. Don’t be a fool, and think you don’t need God
e. Jesus said in John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
2. You need to TRUST Him – He knows exactly what He is doing
a. I accept that I feel a certain way
1) But I don’t trust what I feel - I don’t believe it is the truth
2) Because my heart is deceitful – it lies to me, and gets me in loads of trouble
b. We have been hurt so many times in life that we stop trusting just about everyone – but there are times when we just HAVE to trust a surgeon, a lawyer, a Garda
c. And I don’t know of ANY time that we do not have to trust the Lord!
d. To trust God means to accept what HE says as true, and right, and good
3. So, as a Christian now, I don’t let my heart decide what I do and what I don’t do
a. Not normally!
b. I just let it feel what it feels, And I just go ahead obey God anyways
c. When I don’t understand what is going on in my life, I trust God knows what He is doing, and that it will be best
1) I believe Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
2) I believe Ecclessiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time
4. When my heart tells me…
a. “To give up” – that “I am a failure” - “That I am doomed to keep failing”
b. When it feels like I have failed as a father, or as a husband
c. When I feel like I have failed in my preaching and teaching
d. When my heart smites me for a wrong attitude or sin that so easily besets me
1) I already know my prayers are hindered, that God can’t bless or use me at that time
2) THAT is what my heart feels
3) I can’t change how my heart feels
e. But God is greater than my heart
5. And I CAN look unto Jesus – pray and cry unto Him, and grab ahold of His perfectness, His strength, and His wisdom, and His will, and keep going
a. Philippians 3:13,14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
b. Usually we make most of our decisions in life based on how OUR heart feels
1) When our heart is dark, and condemning, and overwhelmed, we will often find ourselves saying
a) “I guess I won’t try and do right anymore”
b) “I won’t go out to church anymore because I will only be a hypocrite”
c) “I might as well not even try and pray”
2) But the Christian says, “Wait a minute… what does God say? What does God promise? What did Jesus do when HE experienced great disappointments, and great sorrow?
c. Did you know that we have a Bible full of real people, who are living examples that show when their heart gave out and when they wanted to quit
1) They didn’t act like nothing happened
2) They just did not believe how they felt
d. “My faith has found a resting place, not in device or creed” (HYMN ON SCREEN)
1) My faith has found a resting place,
2) Not in a man made creed;
3) I trust the Ever-living One,
4) That he for me will plead.
5) Enough for me that Jesus saves,
6) This ends my fear and doubt;
7) A sinful soul I come to Him,
8) He will not cast me out.
e. Learning how to trust God is THE most important work of the Christian life
1) It is like learning to trust the scuba diving respirator and tanks, and hoses and goggles, so that I can live and explore underwater without drowning!
2) And it is like learning to trust a long flexible stick you poke down your Petrol Tank hose to find out how much petrol you have instead of the broken gauge
3) You have got to have something/Somone greater, more accurate, more powerful, wiser, more patient that your own heart
6. There is no turning back in the Christian life – always forward
a. Sometimes falling, but never quitting
b. 2Corinthians 1:8-10 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
c. 2Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but [ALL] our sufficiency is of God;
7. That’s Why We Are Told Constantly to…
a. Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
b. Mattew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
c. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
d. Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid [HEART], I will trust in thee [GOD].
III. Conclusion and Invitation
A. Are you prone to trust your emotional gauges? You know they are broken, right?
1. Our Heart is Very Good at Condemning Us
2. But God is greater than our heart
B. STOP Trying to Manage Your Heart! Only God Can!
1. You can give all your attention to the heart – to its scars, its memories, its brokenness
2. Or focus all your attention on God
3. Which is greater?
4. Which knows more?
5. Which one has the ability to actually fix things that are broken and messed up?
6. Thankfully, the God of heaven is Greater
C. You NEED God – TODAY!
1. Not more money, or more friends, or more holidays, or more praises
2. YOU NEED GOD in your life, in your heart, in your thinking, in your decisions
3. You need His help - His presence - His strength
4. His peace - His wisdom - His righteousness - His grace
5. Don’t be a fool, and think you don’t need God – YOU NEED GOD!
D. You need to TRUST Him, believe ON Him!
1. Rely on HIM to be right
2. He knows exactly what He is doing
E. And you need to Look unto Jesus
1. Constantly keeping eyes only on HIM, not on your self, or on your circumstances (casting all your cares, burdens upon the Lord)
2. Pray and cry unto Him, and grab a hold of His perfectness, His strength, and His wisdom, and His will, and keep going
3. It is a constant effort
4. Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
5. Mattew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
F. Have you done that yet?
1. Have you Repented of trusting your religion, and your priest, and your professors and your friends, and your own heart?
2. Do it right now!
3. Bow you head and decide right now, to accept that your own measures for success and failure are broken, and instead look to Jesus – ask Him to forgive you and save you from your sinful past, and to hold onto you forever!
4. That’s called being born again!