Know the Difference
The older I get the more I find myself in conversations about wrinkles. During one such conversation, my friend mentioned that wearing sunscreen helps prevent wrinkles. I thought to myself, “Boy, I wish I knew that 25 years ago!” Do you know what else I wish I knew 25 years ago - the difference between conviction and condemnation. Do you know the difference?
Think of conviction as the necessary part of sunshine, the good part. It gives light to guide our steps, provides vitamin D, and aids in the growth of life. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. It is what shows us our need for a Savior. After we place our faith in Jesus, God continues to do His work in our lives by showing us when we have made a mistake, are off track, or are about to hurt ourselves or others. It’s the notification we’ve sinned.
God convicts us because He loves us and is drawing out the person we were created to be. It is a way to free us from the things that are holding us back and get us to the next best thing. Conviction leads us into the arms of our Father where we find forgiveness and guidance.
Condemnation then would be the sunburn causing, drought producing, life destroying part of sunshine. It is from our enemy. Condemnation sounds similar to conviction as it states we’ve messed up. There will be some “truth” to it, but then it takes a turn and gets a little twisted. It goes beyond saying we have done something wrong, by placing disapproval on us and pushing an identity on us that doesn’t line up with the one we have in Christ.
Condemnation may talk like this: No matter how hard I try, I can’t get it right. I should just quit. I’m a failure. I keep hurting people and saying the wrong things. God must be so disappointed in me, as I’ve let Him down again. He probably doesn’t want to talk to me. God is going to get tired of me asking for forgiveness. Maybe if I punish myself, He will know how sorry I really am. I don’t deserve to be full of joy and close to Him after what I’ve done. God is just putting up with me because He’s supposed to love everybody. I’m too much of a mess for Him to want me to be part of His plan. And so goes the beating, if we don’t know:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 ESV
Where conviction gets us walking on the right path again, condemnation tries to run us off of it. We can’t get it right, anyway, so we should stop trying or turn around altogether, at least that’s what we think. Condemnation drives us into hiding from God’s Presence, imprisoning us in our shame, disappointment, embarrassment, and frustration. It leaves hopelessness and failure squarely in our hands.
Condemnation often sneaks in behind conviction. After the Holy Spirit has brought something to our attention, the enemy will come along and try to hit us upside the head with it. It’s like when we’ve crossed that point of being outside too long and the sunburn sets in. There is a line that has been crossed. See the difference?
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,... II Corinthians 10:5 ESV