This morning I woke up with a strong sense of condemnation. I felt utterly condemned before the Lord. It weighed so heavily upon me I thought, “Man I’m a terrible Christ for doing…” that’s when it hit me. There wasn’t anything specific that I felt condemned for. It was a just a general sense of unworthiness and left me feeling condemned. Has that ever happened to you? Do you ever feel that way? What if I told you that feeling was never from God. Wait, you say, the Holy Spirit convicts us when we sin and conviction can make us feel bad. True enough, but conviction and condemnation are not the same thing. As followers of Jesus we must be able to distinguish between the two.
Conviction is from God while condemnation is from Satan. While conviction and condemnation may seem similar they are actually very different. Conviction comes from God through the Holy Spirit and points the way to change. Condemnation comes from Satan and just makes you feel bad.
Condemnation Often comes in the form of vain regrets. Have you ever had a day where you were going through life and everything was great and then something from your past flies into your mind? This isn’t something good from your past but something bad. As this memory runs through your mind you peace and joy is basically destroyed. Suddenly you are just overwhelmed with condemning thoughts about yourself. These are vain regrets and they are from Satan and not God.
Condemnation is often a very vague sense of inadequacy. In the book of Revelation Satan is called the accuser, the one who accuses Christians before God day and night (Revelation 12:10). One way to recognize Satanic accusation that is meant to condemn us is that it often comes in the form of “you” instead of “I.” “You’re no good. You’re worthless. God could never use you. You should forget ever trying to be a Christian.” Condemnation beats you up and puts you down. It’s very general. So if you have this very general sense of guilt, that’s condemnation. This comes from Satan.
Conviction is always specific and leads to change. Condemnation just makes you feel bad. Conviction on the other hand is very specific. The Holy Spirit will deal with you about very specific actions, attitudes, reactions, priorities, values, or relationships that need to be changed. The Holy Spirit will not only show you what needs to be changed, He will show you how to change it. This will also be specific.
You need to repent of…
You need to apologize to…
You need to stop…
You need to start…
The Holy Spirit will deal with us in a very specific way about whatever it is that He knows we need to deal with. He will show us a specific issue that needs to be dealt and He will show us a specific way that we are to deal with it.
Conviction brings us closer to Jesus. The goal of conviction is always to bring us closer to Jesus. It may be to restore our relationship with Him if we’ve strayed. It may be to strengthen our relationship with Jesus. It may be to help us become more like Jesus. Whatever it is, when we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we always end up closer to Jesus.
Condemnation pushes us away from Jesus. Condemnation always pushes us away from Jesus. Condemnation makes us feel unworthy, unlovable, unacceptable, and unforgivable. When we feel condemned we are certain that Jesus will never receive us, never restore us, never forgive us, and never have a relationship with us. This pushes us further and further away from Jesus.
If you have repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus for your salvation, then you are free from condemnation.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 (NKJV)
Jesus has ensured that believers will never be condemned and so feelings of condemnation never come from God. Instead they always come from Satan. Resist and reject feelings of condemnation by memorizing and quoting verses like Romans 8:1, or 1 John 2:1-2, or 2 Corinthians 5:17, or John 3:16-17.