Conviction vs Condemnation
The Bible often speaks to us in ways that may seem subtle, but understanding the differences between conviction and condemnation can drastically change our spiritual walk. One important distinction that you’ll learn is that the Holy Spirit convicts us, helping to guide us towards righteousness, while the devil condemns, pushing us towards feelings of worthlessness and shame.
1. Conviction is Specific; Condemnation is General
The Holy Spirit points out specific areas in our lives that need correction. For instance, rather than making blanket statements like “You are worthless,” the Holy Spirit highlights, “You spoke harshly to your spouse.” This specificity allows us to address and rectify our behaviors effectively.
The Holy Spirit does not deal with us in big general terms, He deals with us regarding a specific behavior, speech, action, or attitudes. For instance, condemnation might say, “You are full of lust.” But conviction will say, “You know you are spending too much time scrolling on Tik-Tok where you are tempted and you keep falling into the same sin. So now the focus is walking away from this particular thing instead of trying to walk around and wallowing yourself in guilt and shame.”
This is one of the biggest differences.
2. Conviction Attacks the Issue; Condemnation Attacks Your Identity
Revelation 12:10 describes the devil as the accuser. He accuses us before God and also accuses us to ourselves. We have a conscience that convicts us or condemns us a lot of times and it’s like a judge in a courtroom. It doesn’t make the rules, it just executes the verdict, telling us we did wrong. Our own heart, the Bible says, can judge us and condemn us.
If that’s not enough, the devil comes and adds to it and one of his techniques is a direct assault on our identity as a Christian. Now as a Christian, your identity is not connected to your issue, but to what God says about us. The Bible calls us righteous and a new creation.
The conviction of the the Holy Spirit doesn’t deal necessarily with our identity, it deals with an issue that needs to be resolved. In fact, the Holy Spirit doesn’t only convict us of the sin but also of righteousness. This means that the Holy Spirit will also convict you of who you are in Jesus and of the forgiveness Jesus offers you.
3. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit; Condemnation is from the Devil
The dark, oppressive feelings of condemnation often go beyond personal guilt and stem from a a demonic force aiming to push us away from God. In contrast, conviction from the Holy Spirit nudges us to move towards Christ.
4. Conviction Gives You Hope; Condemnation Makes You Hopeless
Nobody has lost so much to sin that God’s power cannot redeem them. God is better at saving you than you are at sinning. His blood is more powerful than all the sin all the world has ever committed. There’s hope in the Holy Spirit. There is no hope outside of Jesus.
5. Conviction Leads to Repentance; Condemnation Leads to Remorse
And lastly, repentance brings us closer to God, allowing for genuine transformation. In the Bible we see that Judas betrayed Jesus, sold Jesus, and then he felt bad. However, that’s not conviction. He then returned the money, but that act was also not demonstrating conviction. Then, we see that the feelings he had led him to hang himself. That’s condemnation.
Condemnation makes you feel bad, then you try and do something about feeling bad which only leaves you feeling worse because only Jesus can cleanse us of sin. No amount of hurting yourself can ever make you earn God’s love. God’s forgiveness and conviction of the Holy Spirit points us to the cross and exalts Jesus. It exalts His sacrifice and it just leads us to repentance. Repentance is saying, “I won’t do it again.” It’s recognizing that what we did hurt God’s heart and gave an open access to the devil. It’s choosing to not do it again.
I pray you learn to recognize condemnation and reject it. Run to Jesus instead, and welcome the conviction of the Holy Spirit because it’s the only one that can change you.
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