Conviction vs Condemnation
Discerning Between the Voices of Life and Death
This teaching on conviction verses condemnation is a practical application that companions the lessons set forth in "Matters of the Heart," our free eCourse for spiritual growth and emotional transformation.
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
Conviction versus Condemnation—No Contest!
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner... For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11
1) Conviction shows us the problem, separates us from it and shows us the way out -- all the while letting us know that we are loved and accepted nevertheless.
Repenting of true sins brings restoration and freedom from true guilt. Confess the sin (requires faith in Christ's shed blood) and receive God's mercy.
2) Condemnation binds us to the problem, makes no separation between us and the sin and shows us no way out -- all the while threatening us with judgment and displeasure.
Resisting the accusation of false guilt produces freedom from condemnation. Confess the truth (requires courage to live what you believe) and resist the devil.
Conviction by the Spirit
Condemnation by the Enemy
|True guilt||False guilt|
|Leads to contrition (sorry you sinned)||Leads to feeling worthless, inept (a sorry sinner)|
|Targets our sin (that was wrong)||Attacks our person (you are bad)|
|Illuminates our path||Darkens our understanding|
|Specific wrong is clarified||Fog of general wrongness sinks in|
|Brings repentance||Spreads confusion|
|Feels light and right||Feels heavy and wrong|
|May not want to repent, but agree with truth||May be willing to confess to anything, but can get no freedom|
Two Simple Tests
1) False guilt: Conviction brings with it the Holy Spirit's power to repent in matters of true guilt, but no matter how much you attempt to repent of false guilt, you cannot "receive forgiveness" for that which in God's sight has not been sin. To walk in the light as He is in the light, means that the accusations of false guilt must be seen for what they are (lies or half-truths coming from accusing spirits) and resisted by faith in the truth as you believe God has shown you truth (the courage of one's convictions).
2) True guilt: However, sometimes condemnation comes not from false guilt, but from situations of true guilt where we cannot forgive ourselves and therefore cannot really believe in or receive God's forgiveness. Freedom will come as we learn to confess our sin, fully receive forgiveness, and forgive ourselves as fully as God does. Then the enemy's voice of accusation can be resisted. You can learn to win this tug of war between conviction versus condemnation!
Figuring this out doesn't come once and for all. At times, you may find yourself going through these stages of progressive faith in the truth you discern
1) Confess the truth (God's truth) that you believe, even if you don't feel like it is true.
2) Simply know that the truth you believe is true. Rest in knowing it. (Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free -- He didn't say you will feel the truth.)
3) Then, as you relax into just knowing the truth you will eventually begin to feel its lifting power helping you to believe with your whole heart.
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Feelings follow knowing. Knowing follows believing.
One More to Explore
Discerning Between Flesh and Spirits Your flesh cannot be cast out, nor does it need to be.
Life Application (52-page eBook)
Conviction versus Condemnation (this article)
Interested in Going Deeper?
Consider taking our free eCourse for Healing. We have designed a complete series for personal transformation, "Matters of the Heart," to help Christians gain emotional freedom and inner healing. In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!