Condemnation or Conviction?
Part of being human is making mistakes. We all do it. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet despite these mistakes, God still loves us. Sometimes though, it can feel like you’ve just gone too far. Maybe you did something that you just feel like God wouldn’t forgive. Or you’ve failed so many times that you convinced yourself that there’s no point anymore.
If that’s you, you’re not alone.
Condemnation is a trap that the enemy often throws at us after we slip up and when we’re at our most vulnerable. It is a feeling of hopelessness and guilt that works just like a poison; immobilizing and slowly killing from the inside. Conviction on the other hand is not malicious. It is what God uses to guide us closer to Him.
So what’s the difference?
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to tell between the two while they are being experienced. It’s in those times that it is crucial to understand where they differ:
Conviction Is From God, Condemnation Is Not
This may seem like common sense to some people but to others, not so much. As I’ve already stated, Conviction is not malicious; but is simply the Holy Spirit shaping us into a better person.
John 16:7–9 reads:
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (The Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;…
God is not some angry deity sitting on his throne, just waiting to throw lightning at us for every mistake we make. He genuinely cares for us and knows what’s best. So just like a protective parent scolding a rebellious child, conviction is the method in which God disciplines His children; allowing us to grow in Him.
Condemnation Shows You The Problem, But Conviction Shows You The Solution
Conviction inspires change. When the Holy Spirit convicts, it is always for the purpose of moving us towards a positive change in our lives. Conviction is unyielding and brutally truthful about your mistakes, there’s no question of that. However, unlike condemnation, conviction paints an image of a better you and tells you how to get there. Conviction tells you that what you did was wrong but that if you turn from it and set your eyes on Christ, life will be so much better. It offers a purpose for change, inspiring you to move forward.
Condemnation on the other hand, is much more short sighted. By engulfing you with guilt, Condemnation focuses so much on the mistake that it distracts you from even thinking about why it’s worth fixing.
Thoughts of guilt and depression flood your mind.
“What’s the point? You’re just gonna do it again anyway.”
“Look at what you’ve done! There’s no forgiveness for that!”
“You’re not strong enough to change.”
Condemnation throws all these at you, never giving you any time to recover or think about anything other than what you did and how bad it was.
Remember, conviction gets you moving, while condemnation paralyzes.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate between the two is to ask yourself, “Is what I’m feeling inspiring a positive change?” If not, there a good chance you’ve got yourself a case of condemnation.
If It Is Condemnation and What You Can Do About It
So now that you know the difference between conviction and condemnation, you’re probably thinking about different examples of the two in your own life and what to do next time condemnation comes knocking. Here are some things to remember:
1. Understand that no sin is too big for God.
God was the first to ever love the sinner and hate the sin. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or will do, God will always love you unconditionally. He sent His only Son to die on the cross for every last one of us. Simply ask for His forgiveness and know that He has forgiven you.
2. Now that God has forgiven you, forgive yourself.
This can be the hardest part. Sometimes it can take weeks, months, and even years to forgive ourselves. It’s important to understand though, that God loves you just the way you are. EVERYONE makes mistakes, and to think that your mistake is somehow exceptionally sinful or out the ordinary is just simply not true. If you are having trouble forgiving yourself, one of the best things you can do is pray and ask God to help you. He wants to help and while you might not notice a difference, there’s a pretty good chance he’s working behind the scenes; and let’s face it, when is God NOT working behind the scenes?
Forgiving yourself can be a process and can take time, so don’t be discouraged if there’s not a massive relief over night.
3. Focus on who God wants you to be, and believe in His grace to get you there.
Christ has called us all to be reflections of who He is, but that reflection is refined a little more every day through a long and tedious process. Our mistakes and what we learn from them are part of that process. The only way for us to keep moving forward despite our sinful nature is to understand that God’s grace is what empowers us. Without it, progress would be impossible.
So yes, you might slip up again, and again, and again, but progress is a process. Too many times, we assume that multiple failures is an indication that we won’t ever change. The only time that assumption becomes reality is when we give up. So no matter how many times you may fall, remember that His grace is with you; and that in the end it’s the fact that you kept fighting that will make your destination all the more worth it.
Some Final Thoughts
All have fallen short, and because of that, life is a journey full of hardships, difficulty, and many many mistakes. But it also a journey full of growth, grace, and redemption. It’s despite our mistakes that God shows how amazing His love truly is.
For any of my readers who are struggling right now, rather it be with something I mentioned in this article or something else entirely, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to pray with you and help in any way possible!
Originally published at Voices and Views.