One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “Is there a difference between conviction and condemnation? If so, how can you tell and who is the source of both?”
Great questions, because it’s such an important distinction:
Yes, there’s a very significant difference between the two, since Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10) who seeks to put condemnation on followers of Christ, while one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to us when we’re going astray, so we can get back on the right track (John 16:7-11)
Conviction is actually a good thing, much like pain in our physical bodies. None of us likes to feel pain (or conviction) – but both get our attention, and let us know that something is wrong. In fact, I’m persuaded that none of us would turn to the Lord for salvation unless we first felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that let us know we were in the wrong and needed to turn to Christ to be saved.
Condemnation, on the other hand, is never corrective in nature, but rather is designed to make us feel hopeless, that we are unworthy or lost, and that there’s nothing we can do about it.
Further, I’ve noticed that conviction is sharp and specific – to help us realize exactly where we’re in the wrong and how we can correct it. But condemnation is blunt and heavy and usually a general sense of guilt – that we are condemned by God and that there is no hope for us.
In one of my recent daily readings I noticed this beautiful passage: Job 5:17-18.
Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit!
I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts about the differences you’ve noticed between conviction and condemnation – just leave a comment below.
While you’re at it, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?