Condemnation – something a Christian should never live with!
Conviction – something a Christian should never live without!
Condemnation is the feeling of utter hopelessness. A feeling of failure and yet very often the failure is something we can not even put our finger on – kind of like a dark cloud hovering over our mind and heart. It’s a feeling of rejection, but it is easy to be tricked into believing that it is a rejection coming from God.
But the Bible is perfectly clear about condemnation: God does NOT condemn:
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Condemnation is one of Satan’s many well-used tools of deception! The evil “accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10) and the adversary of our souls knows our weakness (remember how he talked to God about man in Job – Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7).
Conviction is the precise work of the Holy Spirit who uses the Word of God as a “sharp, two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12-13) – or perhaps better described as a surgeon’s scalpel to pinpoint and extract cancerous cells of sin within us.
Sadly, there are some ministries – those which are legalistic, “of the letter” and not “of the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:5-11) – and they utilize condemnation to maintain a harsh and strict rule over God’s children.
Then, on the opposite spectrum, there are other ministries that preach a total immunity to any conviction of sin whatsoever – giving total license for sin, worldliness, and lust. Both kinds of ministries should be avoided like the plague!
But all of this is a basic human problem. We confuse conviction with condemnation. Actually, both feel very similar, but they originate from two entirely different sources. Conviction comes from God. Condemnation comes from Satan.
How can we tell the difference?
A wise old missionary friend of my younger days in the ministry saw how often I would come under a cloud of condemnation and discouragement. He lovingly shared with me this vital insight:
Conviction is specific. Condemnation is non-specific.
Conviction comes from God and is specifically focused on a particular thing we did, a word we spoke, or an attitude we allowed in to rule our thoughts.
Condemnation, on the other hand, comes from Satan and is non-specific – kind of like a chilling fogginess that is felt all around us, yet we can’t seem to put a finger on it.
He also shared with me that we should be very careful with and purposefully appreciative of the conviction of the Holy Spirit’s Finger as He points to areas of our life.
Then he made this statement:
“Condemnation is very often the effects of stale conviction.”
“Stale conviction”? What is that about? Well, quite simply, it is a conviction of sin that we have ignored or perhaps, in procrastination, just placed up on the back shelf of a closet in our heart. Satan seizes that as an opportunity to accuse us. Then he brings out his crafty tools of deception. And the condemnation begins!
We must NOT be ignorant of Satan’s schemes (2 Cor 2:11). [Note that in 2 Corinthians 2, Paul is specifically dealing with the power of forgiveness.]
Therefore, in absolute determination, we need to diligently bring each point of conviction directly and immediately to the Cross. Confess it as sin (without excuses). Believe in the forgiveness Jesus already purchased on the Cross, and freely receive the cleansing of His precious Blood (John 16:7-9; 1 John 1:5-9; 1 John 2:1-2). This must be done in exactly the same way we did it when we first received Jesus at our new birth and acceptance into God’s family. As Paul told the church at Colosse:
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
Once truly cleansed, our conscience will again be clear, our heart will be purified and kept softened, and fresh faith will function again (Heb 9:14; 1 Tim 3:9). That is the marvelous power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the power of continuous salvation “especially to those who believe” (Rom 1:16-17; 1 Tim 4:9-10).
That wise advice helped me tremendously! The more I was able to recognize and distinguish in my life between condemnation and conviction, I found it just that much easier to quickly shake off the foggy cloud of frustrating and depressing condemnation. And then, at the same time, I felt an ever-increasing love and appreciation for the Holy Spirit’s conviction and the power of Jesus’ precious Blood.
From that point forward, I was much more available to be a vessel for the Master’s use (2 Tim 2:21) – to share with other out of an ever-continuing experience just how wonderful the Gospel truly is!!
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.