ACIM CHAPTER 31 III The Self-Accused

1. Only the self-accused condemn. As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different outcomes, there is first one thing that must be overlearned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realize. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a “just” attack.

2. Why should his sins be sins, if you did not believe they could not be forgiven in you? Why are they real in him if you did not believe that they are your reality? And why do you attack them everywhere except you hate yourself? Are you a sin? You answer “yes” whenever you attack, for by attack do you assert that you are guilty and must give as you deserve. And what can you deserve but what you are? If you did not believe that you deserved attack, it never would occur to you to give attack to anyone at all. Why should you? What would be the gain to you? What could the outcome be that you would want? And how could murder bring you benefit?

3. Sins are in bodies. They are not perceived in minds. They are not seen as purposes, but actions. Bodies act, and minds do not. And therefore must the body be at fault for what it does. It is not seen to be a passive thing, obeying your commands, and doing nothing of itself at all. If you are sin you are a body, for the mind acts not. And purpose must be in the body, not the mind. The body must act on its own and motivate itself. If you are sin you lock the mind within the body, and you give its purpose to its prison house, which acts instead of it. A jailer does not follow orders but enforces orders on the prisoner.

4. Yet is the body prisoner, and not the mind. The body thinks no thoughts. It has no power to learn, to pardon, nor enslave. It gives no orders that the mind need serve, nor sets conditions that it must obey. It holds in prison but the willing mind that would abide in it. It sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances, to suit the purpose given by the mind. For mind can learn, and there is all change made.

5. The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose, that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack, of pain and age, of grief and suffering. Here are the thoughts of sacrifice preserved, for here guilt rules and orders that the world be like itself; a place where nothing can find mercy, nor survive the ravages of fear except in murder and in death. For here are you made sin, and sin cannot abide the joyous and the free, for they are enemies which sin must kill. In death is sin preserved and those who think that they are sin must die for what they think they are.

6. Let us be glad that you will see what you believe and that it has been given you to change what you believe. The body will but follow. It can never lead you where you would not be. It does not guard your sleep, nor interfere with your awakening. Release your body from imprisonment, and you will see no one as prisoner to what you have escaped. You will not want to hold in guilt your chosen enemies, nor keep in chains, to the illusion of a changing love, the ones you think are friends.

7. The innocent release in gratitude for their release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made. [1]

There is a term in psychology called “overlearn.” To overlearn something is to go beyond proficiency, to continue to practice this and go over it and apply it on a moment-to-moment basis if necessary.  Jesus asks us to overlearn this principle – That the innocent release others from guilt. The innocent do not attack. The innocent do not project. Because of my innocence, you cannot be guilty.  You may make mistakes. You may say and do things that hurt my feelings or even jeopardize the peace and well-being of all whom I love, but I will not make you guilty for in my innocence I can only share innocence, I can only share blanket forgiveness, I can only see you as a mutual Son of God who has mistakenly accepted a false identity.

Let me suggest that you go over this section carefully and prayerfully and ask Holy Spirit to illuminate its meaning to you.  Upon my first reading of it I was confused because it seemed as if this particular section contradicted what we have learned before about the body and the mind. It was not until I read it over several times in depth with no hurry or reliance upon my own intellect that the meaning of this passage became apparent.

In paragraphs one through three Jesus asks us to contemplate the meaning of attack and come to not only understand and accept but to overlearn the concept of the first sentence: Only the self-accused condemn.  To come to know this and to understand the underlying principles of this is to practice seeing, knowing, and recognizing this in every person, encounter, and circumstance of our daily walks.  If condemnation rises in me toward my husband, sister, brother, son, friend, or social figures of any kind, I have secret, hidden self-hatred that needs to be brought to holiness, that needs to be brought to the light, forgiven, and healed. Even my resentment toward my chickens for not producing eggs can be an indication to me that I accuse myself for not having been the productive, dependable contributor that I am called to be! My judgment against a cousin who says terrible things about her daughter and blames others for her own failure to take the upper hand and correct situations that were easily correctable is an indication to me that I know the inconsolable sorrow that comes from making unkind pronouncements upon my own daughters.  To see someone else engaging in this is a call for correction, not condemnation.   It is a call to deeper commitment to bring that sadness to the inner altar, to accept forgiveness, to be healed and corrected.

When we are tempted to condemn a certain behavior, failure, an appearance, a habit in another, holiness impels us to reinterpret the temptation as a call to go within. It is not a call to make a big stink, to point out the mistakes of others, to build cases and take sides, to blame and condemn – it is a call to heal and to correct, to join and not to separate. We cannot learn on our own. The very ones who tempt us to condemn are merely showing us that we have not accepted our own innocence, that we have not healed, that we have something especially important to learn from this encounter. This is a wonderful way to root out all the hidden and secret attachment to guilt and shame in our own mind as well as give us helpful insight into the mind of others. It is a call for mutual healing then.

When I can not only speak of, but live and teach by example, the power of forgiveness, the nothingness of the past, the unholiness of blame and shame and guilting another for my own failures with those who are still failing to accept their own innocence, what was designed to be an instrument of destruction and division becomes an instrument of holiness and healing.  We must overlearn this instrumentation because otherwise we are pawns of the flesh. In the flesh, we see each other as separate, as possible friends or enemies, but never as one with us.  We trap one another in separateness – you are your body over there separate from me. It is quite apparent to me what you are doing with that body of yours, but it is not apparent to me what I am doing until you show me.  You are my mirror; you reflect me to me.  So when I get angry over your immodesty, your gossipy ways, your idolatry, the ways in which you enjoy toying with others and being rude– and see it as a call to condemn, I am not being an instrument of holiness. I am going to build a case against you. I am going to stay clear of you. I am going to be afraid of you and your mean games and your spiteful ways.

I can only condemn you if I think of myself as a sin. Jesus asks us throughout our study to know ourselves as He knows Himself – as Son of God. As long as we think of ourselves as miserable sinners we relegate ourselves to pathetic little flesh-mongers who, created by a lesser god made us imperfect and unworthy so that we would be grateful, wheedling servants to it forever.  As we accept Sonship from our Loving Father, this changes all our wrongful concepts of who and what we are.  We are brothers who made a mistake and having been given the opportunity to practice our mistakes in a realm that opposes the everlasting love of Sonship, all of us will eventually conclude that God’s Love is the Truth, the Life, the Way.  The ancient ways are a thing of the past!  There are no penalties for all that happens in separation disappears when we return to Love. In Love there is no separation, there is no condemnation, there is no punishment, no sacrifice, and nobody and no thing is ever lost or left behind. 

[1]A Course in Miracles. Chapter 31 The final vision iii. the self-accused. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

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Published by eckief

My love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at

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