Wednesday, January 14, 2015

conviction and condemnation


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1


[What is the difference between conviction and condemnation?]

That is the question someone posted a few days ago in a Christian mental health group to which I belong.  I didn’t see it when it was first posted, and when I did come across it, I didn’t respond initially because it seemed that someone else had expressed an answer similar to my own understanding of the matter.   But then, last night, I unexpectedly heard from someone who had apparently been reading my blog and very much identified with a lot of what I had been writing.  I didn’t even know this person was in the group with me, and I was kind of surprised to hear from them because they hadn’t made a single comment to any of my posts sharing my blog.  At the same time, I was very glad they’d reached out because it encouraged me that God is, indeed, making sure that these messages are getting to the folks who need them most, even when I am unaware of what impact my words might be having.   

I mention this to say that during the conversation with this person who reached out, we ended up discussing the issue of unrelenting guilt over past sins.  I could tell very quickly in the course of our exchange that this person was incredibly tormented by a sense of shame over past offenses that have long since been forgiven by God – completely erased in the eyes of Christ.  This is something I’ve wrestled with in the past and have come to be set free from over the course of months of the Spirit working in me and revealing Truth to me.   I asked if they had talked to God about the difficulty in forgiving themselves & they said certainly – and that for a time it helps, but the guilt always crowds back in… That did not surprise me at all.  Most things that we surrender to God, we are incredibly prone to pick back up again, sometimes just moments later.  It is only by a continuous process of giving over, the repeated surrendering at the feet of Jesus, combined with enlightenment on the subject by the Spirit Himself teaching us we do not have to pick it back up again that we are ever able to let go fully… And often, this is something we have to be told repeatedly before we really effectively learn it.

After this exchange last night, I was redirected back to that post about the difference between conviction and condemnation.  I felt led to post a response to be sure the person asking received enough clarification, and to offer to talk if they were still wrestling with the matter.   Having not heard anything back, I presumed it was all done and would not be revisited until I received a text today asking my take on the two…  This is what poured out of me in response:

Conviction is the twinge that lets me know something I’ve done is in some way disappointing to God or less than giving Him my best.  It’s the tug at my soul that causes me to realize I need to draw near to Jesus and ask for some enlightenment on what I may have done and why it was wrong or how it could have hurt Him or come between us.   Conviction is that initial sensation that causes me to realize I’ve done anything wrong to recognize I need to confess and seek forgiveness and help from God to overcome bad behavior or less than pleasing habits or thought patterns.  Conviction is very useful and helpful and good because when acknowledged, it causes us to realize that need to draw nearer to God.

Condemnation, on the other hand, is the carrying of guilt over the offense – a sense of punishment or shame – the continuing to loathe the behavior long after it’s been forgiven by God, keeping us trapped and tormented.  Condemnation is the enemy’s tool of guilt that makes us feel that we are unworthy of the love that has been so freely poured out on us.  We carry the burden far past when Jesus has totally erased the sin.  Self-condemnation is a horrible sentence to impose on the psyche, refusing to forgive oneself – insisting your offense is too great to be pardoned, too bad to be entirely wiped away.  The enemy convinces us internally that we are still marked by our sin even though by the blood of Christ we have in GOD’s eyes been made clean and pure.  We carry on feeling dirty and walk through life defeated… We begin to shut down, presuming because of our guilt that we are unlovable and less than.  We grow distant from God and recede into depression and darkness (which is the whole point of this attack on us).

The brilliant hope though is that Jesus came to set us free from all this guilt and shame.  And even if we have been caught in patters of living in self-condemnation for years, the Spirit can and will teach us to forgive ourselves as fully as God has forgiven us.  HE will reveal the Truth to us & the Truth, once understood and internalize and fully realized, will set us free indeed!
To anyone who wrestles with this personally, I pose the questions that helped me to better understand why this is such a wrong way of thinking:

Who am I to pass greater judgment
than the Lord, God of Heaven?
Who am I to insist that my sin is too great
to be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ? 
Who in all this do I think that I am?

By passing judgment and issuing sentence of shame on ourselves for offenses and trespasses already forgiven and entirely erased by GOD HIMSELF, we are actually setting ourselves up as a greater authority than He. 

They are challenging questions – and they did not set me free in and of themselves, but they helped me to see the situation from a different perspective.  It is NOT God’s desire for us to trudge about lamenting our past offenses – He wants us to walk in VICTORY!  He longs to restore us to a right and fruitful relationship with Himself, and does so out of love and great delight when we confess.

All the guilt and shame we hold onto are thrust upon us by the enemy, and we do not have to accept or carry any of it.  He is the great accuser, and he will not stop assaulting us or condemning us so long as we live and breathe.  This is why it is so critical to be grounded in the Word to know the Truth and to be familiar with the voice of the Spirit leading to know you can (and should) dismiss everything that comes to your mind that is not of God. 

There is therefore now NO condemnation
(not from Heaven or to be inflicted on oneself)
for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

I didn’t get that verse until God made it real and alive to me.  But now that I KNOW it, it’s one about which I’m incredibly passionate, particularly because it’s a frequently used tool of the devil that keeps us needlessly enslaved in defeat… And that is NOT the life God has called us to or designed us to live!!!

And he whom the Son sets free
shall be free indeed!

Conviction does bring with it a sense of remorse, but only inasmuch as is useful in helping us to realize the desire to draw nearer to the heart of God to be made whole and right again and to help us to try to avoid repeating that same offense in the future for not wanting to hurt God that way again.  However, if you find that you are lamenting your sins to the point of rejecting yourself and carrying a heavy burden of shame everywhere that you go (in all your interactions and relationships), I would say you are dealing with condemnation.

Be encouraged that this is very common, and you are NOT alone in your suffering.  God can heal you from this pattern of wrong thinking as you seek Him for help and guidance. 


I urge you to pray regularly to be released from this stronghold in your mind.  And when the enemy accuses you, rebuke him in the Name of Christ!  Tell him to get behind you in the Name of Jesus!  Quote scripture back to the devil because he cannot stand before the Word of God!  Use all the spiritual weapons at your disposal to fight the enemy – he cannot withstand the powers of prayer, praise and the Word or the Name of God!!!!


“For the weapons of our warfare are…
mighty before God
for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:4


If this message touches you at all, 
if this is a subject you've ever wrestled with,
I really encourage you to pop over to youtube & listen to
Don Moen's 
and let the Truth really sink in down deep!


Until next time...
Be blessed!!! <3

[about this blog]

© K. Michelle Payne 2015

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