If our emotions are bouncing all over the place and there are questions about what is right and wrong within our own reasoning and belief systems, it helps to be able to define the boundaries of conviction and the characteristics of condemnation.
Let’s look first at conviction. Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says the Holy Spirit convicts us – of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit will, first of all, make us aware that something is contrary to the holiness of God and is an offense to His laws. He will counsel us regarding righteousness or guiltlessness before God, and He will remind us that satan has been judged and is defeated. In other words, He might speak within our minds or spirit something like:
“You know you plan to call in sick to spend the day fishing/shopping. That is wrong. You are already thinking about lying about your day ‘at home’.” (sin)
“You were made the righteousness of God in Christ, now you can come boldly to your Heavenly Father. ” (righteousness)
“Quit giving satan so much credit on how well you think he is working against you.” (judgment)
When the Holy Spirit speaks, He does so in gentleness and compassion. Even when He gave me strict correction, it was done with a grace that was coupled with healing and counsel. The amazing thing is in the midst of correction there is a freedom. It is like finding the sliver in your finger that is causing pain. The moment the sliver is removed; there is a sense of relief.
When the Holy Spirit brings conviction He always gives you direction or counsel based upon the Word of God. It may involve repentance, forgiveness, blessing, giving, about departing from evil or perhaps giving you encouragement. It will all be motivated by love. He might add a sentence to our three scenarios above with something like:
“…Get up, get dressed and go to work. You won’t have to deal with guilt later.”
“… He is waiting for you to come to Him. He loves you. Praise Him today.”
“…Satan is defeated, his power is broken and his doom is set. Ask to be forgiven for unbelief. Renounce the lies you have believed.”
Conviction is counsel with a call to action that is based on the Word of God. It is filled with the ability to obey when we yield to His leading. It brings freedom.
Conviction is designed to remove sin from our lives by revealing to us that we have sinned against God. He wants to return us to the place where every hindrance is removed that would keep His goodness from flowing to us. The wages of sin is death. Death is what satan wants to bring to us in one form or another. The Holy Spirit’s conviction is the design by a loving Father to remove satan’s intrusion into our lives.
Sometimes we don’t know everything we should about the things of God. That nudge by the Holy Spirit is there to help us stay on the right path. We are wise if we ask Him to verify His counsel with a scripture. He has done that many times in my life.
An example was when I was on a trip. The conversation one morning brought a discussion about several people we had meetings with. I gave my opinion and I felt like it was a valid one. However, during an after-breakfast walk, right in the middle of talking to the person next to me, the Lord brought my earlier conversation to mind. As I looked down at the walkway, it was as if I saw my foot take a step across a line that was outside of God’s grace and goodness. I remembered the context of a scripture that sin is when we step out of the path of God — it is called error. Later, I shared with the persons involved what the Lord showed me and what I said was in error, either in motive or in fact.
The Lord may not convict you the same way He did me. He will speak to us in our own frame of reference — in the way and in the words that we identify with.
Conviction will always come with a remedy or counsel regarding the matter to bring you back into right standing before the Lord.
Condemnation (Romans 8:1) is a beating down with critical words with no hope of resolution, reconciliation or blessing. It will bring a thinking of loss or failure that has no redemption. There is an essence of accusation with a foreboding sense that we are unworthy — that we deserve what consequences have come our way. He readily reminds us of any reason we will accept for our dilemma. If there is sin, he will hammer us saying God is judging us and has left us.
If sin has been repented of, he will still try to make us feel like God is still holding it against us. Such accusation is contrary to the Word of God which says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NIV). This is the perfect time when the Holy Spirit will speak within us seeking to convince us about righteousness and right-standing with God. But if the counsel of the Holy Spirit seems silent and the accusations of the enemy come in loud and clear with assurance we will not break free — then we are under the heavy yoke of condemnation.
Do you know what that feels like? I know I do. Knowing the power of repentance, I repent quickly when the Holy Spirit brings correction. However, years ago there came a barrage of words of condemnation against me fast and furious. For days, sin upon sin bombarded my mind. My mental picture of myself was of a worm crawling along the ground, dejected and hopeless. I can’t say I was rising up to declare I was forgiven and those sins were not longer held against me. This assault rather snuck up on me and I was swept up in its flow.
Suddenly the Holy Spirit came in, maybe not in a mighty rushing wind like at Pentecost, but it was with power and truth with a refreshing, life-giving word from the Lord. He said, “My grace in greater than you ability to fail.” There was such an emphasis on ability that I knew my failures could never outweigh His grace. I could see His grace covered my past. It was with me at that moment and it would carry me into my future. Condemnation was annihilated by truth.
The beauty was it released a new fervor for my future. I was one to procrastinate in times past. I overcame to a measure when I heard a comment that, “procrastination comes from a fear of failure.” I began to examine whether I could trust the Lord with the consequences of my failures. However, when the Lord revealed His grace also was there to address the future possibility of failure, it imparted faith in me to not be afraid to — risk. There are many times when we take a risk in stepping out in faith – or we hope it is faith. We want to do God’s will but yet we don’t always have clear direction. I could see grace was a great encourager.
Since that time, I reminded the Lord of His word to me because there have been a lot of occasions when I needed grace. Calling on God’s grace in the times of condemnation will help us to pick up, move forward and not get stuck in self-condemnation.
CONDEMNATION BASED ON BELIEF SYSTEMS OF ERROR
In the matter of trying to discern what is of God and what is of the devil, we also need to keep in mind what has been planted within our belief systems. Not everything we were taught by others or have come to believe by the bumps and bruises of life may be according to the truth of God.
Dysfunction in people and homes results from people believing things that are taught to be “the way it is” but are actually the lies of satan. Sometimes in dysfunctional family dynamics, what one or more members are doing is harmful and destructive but in their own eyes they feel justified and vindictive at any suggestion to the contrary. Their perceptions are based on the beliefs they hold. Such error can be portrayed as truth and we consequently believe it, or are condemned for standing against it.
Therefore we have to look at the matter of conviction and condemnation with a view of what the Bible has to say about the matter. Since the Holy Spirit will convict us – not condemn us, we can count on Him to bring us truth. Condemnation will always try to keep us in the dark.
Condemnation brings a message of hopelessness and judgment. It thrashes one’s emotions. Demonic voices speak words to our ears of unworthiness, failure and “you don’t deserve to receive this good thing” or otherwise, “you deserve what you got.” You get the point.
When we realize the power of words, we can understand why when hurtful, critical and angry words were spoken to us as children they left a wound in our soul. It left us with a feeling of condemnation. Basically, we were taught that condemnation was what we were to accept as normal for our lives. Who was behind those misguided words? One who wanted to bring a case against us. It helps to understand that people’s words spoken were probably inspired by a spirit from satan’s dark realm. Satan hates us and he does not care now young we were or how much we hurt.
On the other hand, we have a loving Lord who is devoted to us and wants to bring healing and restoration. On one occasion, some hurtful words were spoken to me. Some time later I asked the person about what was said and the reasoning for the words spoken. The person looked puzzled. It boiled down to something like, “I don’t know why I said that. That is not what I meant to say.” Yep, that is what I thought. There was some “interference” going on to bring damaging words, but it was not the heart of the person. Reconciliation comes easy in that situation. But even if the person did mean what was said, just knowing voices from the spirit realm regularly bring messages of hate and harm, it will help us forgive them and tell demonic voices to be silent, in Jesus Name.
Conviction or condemnation?
Conviction offers hope Condemnation stifles hope
Conviction brings a path to good Condemnation says you are stuck
Conviction’s motive is love Condemnation’s is hate
Conviction seeks your best Condemnation fears your best
Conviction sets you free Condemnation keeps you bound
Conviction seeks to remove guilt Condemnation seeks long term guilt
Holy Spirit will help you You are on your own
Allow God to do a complete work. Get rid of the devils bondage. You have a promise. The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
I encourage you to listen carefully to the wooing of conviction by the Holy Spirit. Discern the voices behind condemnation. Behind conviction is love and a smile. Not so with condemnation.
Draw close to the Lord in times of conviction and godly correction as well in the times of condemnation. Seek His truth. It can do nothing but make you free.