Every Believer is faced with challenges. When it comes to discerning the voice of God, many of us can feel lost. The key to understanding the difference between conviction and condemnation is to use the Holy Spirit to guide you. They enemy’s goal is to disguise condemnation as conviction so that you will doubt the peaceful voice of God.
The good news is that you do not have to feel lost. God has provided all the guiding principles you need to get you to a place of peaceful discernment. Let’s discover how to use these guiding principles to move from hearing words of condemnation to hearing the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
Just as every compass has a true north to lead us home, God has given us the Word, which contains His unchanging truth, as a guide.
There are three main ways that God communicates with Believers…
It is crucial that we understand that all three of these ways of communicating will speak with the same voice. In other words, if you think you are hearing something from God, you can always fact check it through His Word. God will never contradict Himself!
“The entirety of Your word is truth,
and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”
How do we Discern between Conviction and Condemnation?
Simply put, discernment is defined as the ability to judge. We must be able to correctly judge whether it is God’s voice that we are hearing.
We live in a fallen world with many voices and distractions. If we are not careful, we can fall victim to the wrong voice, which will ultimately lead us off course and leave us feeling lost and confused.
The Bible reminds us how God’s voice sounds so that we can remain anchored and on course, fully equipped for every good work.
- “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”—2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) (emphasis added)
Why would the Apostle Paul refer specifically to rebuking, correcting and training?
When we allow the Holy Spirit to rebuke, correct, and train us, we are “transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We welcome the correction because we know that it trains us for our purpose.
As followers of Christ, we must be able to recognize when we are falling victim to condemnation rather than experiencing the grace of God through conviction.
Conviction vs. Condemnation
- Conviction is godly sorrow. It reminds us that we are loved enough to be peaceably redirected for a better outcome.
- Conviction is a work in progress. In Greek, the word, “elencho,” which means “to convince someone of the truth, or cross-examine a witness,” is translated as conviction. The Holy Spirit is a prosecuting attorney in the Courts of Heaven who exposes evil and reveals to us the need of a Messiah.
Conviction leaves you feeling:
- Condemnation is worldly sorrow. It tells us that we are wrong, that we are unworthy of God’s love, and that we are unable to be redirected.
- Condemnation feels final. It is as if a timer ran out and we just didn’t make it to the finish line.
Condemnation leaves you feeling:
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”—2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (emphasis added)
Why Is It Difficult to Discern between Conviction and Condemnation?
The truth is, figuring out what we are feeling is not as easy as it sounds. That is why it is crucial that we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). In other words, when the feelings of condemnation creep in, take a moment and ask the Spirit to expose the lie.
For example, if you feel shame, you know it is from the enemy. Therefore, declare a verse such as Romans 10:11—“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”—to make the thought obedient to God’s Word.
- Write it down.
- Meditate on it.
- Declare it.
- Believe it.
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”—John 8:31-32 (emphasis added)
Notice that Jesus didn’t say that “you will feel the truth.” Our feelings change constantly, but God’s truth remains the same.
When we know His truth, our feelings will be more inclined to lead us to conviction instead of condemnation.
Bearing Fruit | Conviction or Condemnation
The best way to know if we are surrendering to conviction or condemnation is to examine the fruit that is produced throughout the process.
“For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.”—2 Corinthians 7:11-12
For the Corinthians, the fruit produced from their conviction was repentance and they were cleansed, which led to a zeal and a desire for a closer relationship with God. They were vindicated!
Hear this, conviction will always lead us to repentance and repentance will always bring us closer to God.
On the other hand, condemnation can only lead us to death. Ultimately, when we are experiencing condemnation, the fruit we bear is rotten and leads to death and destruction.
- “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”—2 Corinthians 7:10
The Good News
The Bible reminds us that through the blood of Christ at Calvary, we are adopted into God’s family and heirs to His throne. It is because of that inheritance that we are afforded the privilege of conviction.
God wants us to live vindicated!
If you struggle under the weight of condemnation, break free with this simple prayer:
“Father God, I confess that I am not familiar with Your voice. I have allowed worldly sorrow to take root within my soul and have adopted thinking patterns that leave me feeling confused and alone. Lord, Your Word reminds me that You are my Shepherd and that I will always have the ability to discern Your voice. Holy Spirit, I call on Your mighty power to vindicate me from the chains of condemnation. I open my heart to any conviction You bring before me. Let Your voice speak louder than any other and above all, give me ears to hear what You have to say. I seal this in Yeshua’s name, amen.”
Do you need help with prayer to break free from the spirit of condemnation? Click HERE and schedule a 1-on-1 prayer with our intercessors today!