The only motivation that God looks for in us is love. It is the only motivation He has for everything He does. Love does not act unfittingly, is not envious and is not selfish.1 Love does no ill to its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.2
You cannot fulfill the law by your own efforts. I know this from personal experience. Good intentions do not work in obedience to the law. The only way we can do good works with truly pure motives and without being double minded is from a root of agape love.
Agape love is only possible miraculously. This type of love cannot be instilled in another through making them feel guilty. Ever since we were children, we have been made to feel guilty in order to make us do what we should. “There are plenty of children in Africa that would love to have what you have.”
Jesus never used this systematic condemnation in His ministry even though He had plenty of opportunities to do so. One example is the woman who was caught in adultery.3 The Pharisees took her to Jesus expecting Him to react as they had. She was attacked using the three weapons of legalism — condemnation, shame, and fear.
While everyone was waiting for Jesus’ decision, He wrote something in the dirt that scared everyone off. Then, finally, He could talk to the woman. He told her that He didn’t condemn her and then added, “Go and sin no more”. Did she ask for forgiveness for her sin? I don’t know that she would have dared.
There is a very distinct difference between the condemnation that we humans use and the conviction for sin that the Lord uses. The difference lies in that the conviction for sin brings hope while condemnation crushes. Condemnation does not leave room for future improvement. Conviction from the Spirit offers possibility to change in that very moment and to have the guilt from our sins never used against us again. I have actually enjoyed feeling the finger of the Lord pointing out something in my life that shouldn’t be there, whereas condemnation takes away hope.
Spurgeon told about a time in England when some men were going to blast down a wall. They had lit the fuse and taken cover. One of the men then saw a child walking toward that wall. All the men stood up and began to yell at the child to get out of the way. The child froze and stayed where he was. The mother of the child passed by, saw what was happening, bent down and with her mother’s voice softly said, “Son, come to mommy.” The child immediately began to run toward his mother and so avoided the blast. It is the kindness of God, not condemnation, that leads us to repentance.
The kindness of God was shown to the woman who was caught in adultery. Both Zaccheus and the sinner who is now writing these words were brought to repentance by hearing “Son, come.”
We need to remember that the goal that God has for us is not better behavior but rather, a renewed mind,4 for us to be changed from glory to glory.5 We must not use weapons against others that God has renounced to get them to do what is right. If Jesus died to take away our guilt, why do we try to reverse that process?
1- 1 Corinthians 13:5 2- Romans 13:10 3- John 8:1-11 4- Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23 5- 2Corinthians 3:18