“THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.” — Romans 8:1 AMP
Many of us hear a sermon or read something and feel guilty because we feel that we don’t measure up to the standard that is being presented. Perhaps we need to repent and make a change in our lives, which is legitimate conviction. However, many times, what we feel is NOT conviction at all, it is condemnation. We feel that we are a failure and that there is little hope for us ever changing. At least this is how I have felt on many occasions.
What’s the difference between condemnation and conviction?
Condemnation comes from Satan and is meant to destroy us. It points out what a failure we are and how badly we have screwed up. It focuses on the problem (the sin, the past, and our failures) while avoiding the solution.
Conviction, on the other hand, is referred to in the Bible as Godly sorrow. The scripture tells us that Godly sorrow is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Condemnation tells us, “You are such a failure! You’ll never change!” while conviction tells us, “Come to me and I will forgive you!”. Conviction gives us the solution to the problem (the Blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin and failures).
How do I tell the difference between the two?
Many times we feel guilty but it is unclear as to whether we are being convicted or being condemned. Jesus said that He was not sent to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). Therefore, Jesus (God) will NEVER tell you how much of a loser you are, how much of a failure you are, or how much of a screw-up you are ( So, if you hear any of these statements, it is either Satan, yourself, or others telling you this). Instead, as a loving Father with a soft, gentle voice, Jesus (God) invites you to come to Him and receive His forgiveness.
What do I do when I’m feeling guilty?
When I’m feeling guilty I now ask myself , “Is this God convicting me or is this condemnation from myself, others or Satan?” If I’m still not sure, then I pray and ask God to make it clear to me.
Remember the following (an excert from Jeannie’s Journal):
“God loves you so tenderly. He loves you exactly like you are, with all the unsanctified thoughts and deeds you do. He has a plan to change you that is slow and steady and full of peace and joy. His plan will prevail. YOU ARE PREDESTINED FOR IT. And it’s not you that will do it…it’s all Him. You don’t have to work. God does the work. The Christian life is not too hard. It’s not hard at all. It’s about cuddling up in the arms of the father who loves you. The father who accepts you just as you are today. He isn’t disappointed in you. That’s the lie of the accuser. The Lord wants you to quit listening to those lies and take back your inheritance – the peace He purchased for you. It’s yours.
You are acceptable to God.”