Discerning Between Condemnation and Conviction

Posted: Aug 17, 2016


by Mike Genung

How do we discern whether we’re experiencing condemnation, whether from our flesh or the enemy, or conviction from the Holy Spirit? Discerning which one is critical because if we mistake condemnation for conviction we can freefall into shame and despair. If we write off conviction as condemnation, we may miss the work God wants to do in our heart.

Here are several points for clarity and understanding:

Condemnation is a sledge hammer whose purpose is to bludgeon you into self-loathing, despair, and discouragement.
Conviction is a thin, fine, scalpel the Holy Spirit uses to gently open up a place of sin in your heart so He can heal you.

Condemnation is angry, loud, and cruel.
Holy Spirit-inspired conviction is quiet, always gentle, and done with care.

Condemnation focuses on your failures and leaves your hopeless or doubting as to whether you are or can be forgiven.
Conviction points you to grace; as you understand the Holy Spirit is working, you will look to Jesus and receive mercy.

Condemnation attacks who you are with the intent to destroy you.
Conviction focuses with laser-like precision only on the area of sin to move you toward repentance and freedom.

Condemnation is a wrecking ball.
Conviction is heart surgery.

Condemnation weighs you down.
Conviction frees you from burdens.

Condemnation can be triggered from lies you’ve bought into, lies the enemy whispers, or the distorted, judging words of others, even loved ones.
Conviction is based on the truth.

Condemnation is packaged with shame.
Conviction is accompanied by grace.

If Romans 8:1 is true and “there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus,” and if 1 John 1:9 is also true so that once you’ve confessed your sins God is “faithful and just to cleanse you from all unrighteousness,” then you need listen to condemnation no more.

You also need not fear conviction; give the Holy Spirit open access to every area of your heart so He can shape, heal, and restore as He wills. Every act of His gentle conviction is another step toward healing and peace.

Sadly, many block His work, not because of condemnation, but their pride. “You will not enter here” they tell God. And He will not. You can have as much of God’s healing, and freedom, as you want, just as you can hold on to your sin and sickness.

Photo credit: lightwise