A question was asked at Bible study today…one that I have heard repeatedly…”What is the difference between condemnation and conviction?” The Scriptures teach that those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer under condemnation*…but we are also taught that the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin**. What is the difference between these two situations?
Today I felt like I received a word picture to explain it.
Imagine that you have fallen to the ground.
Condemnation will tell you that you deserved the fall…and will hold you down, calling you unworthy, etc. Condemnation produces the chains of guilt meant to bind our hearts and keep us from reaching out for help.
Conviction will acknowledge the fall, point it out if you don’t notice it, but then reach out and pick you up…helping you get back on your feet to walk again.
Condemnation offers no hope…but conviction offers it without reserve.
We will fall…and we will have consequences (just because someone helps us up doesn’t mean that the scraped knee will not hurt or take some time to heal)…but there is hope that in the future our wounds will heal…and we will (hopefully) be more careful not to fall in the same spot.
Condemnation will take your consequences and repeatedly beat you with them…telling you that you are unworthy…that your scraped knee will never heal, you might as well cut it off.
Conviction is not always fun…but it is always for our good. It is meant to help us walk straight and true and be a light to guide others to the Truth of God’s word…to love them as we have been loved. We cannot do that on our own…and we cannot do that if we are still sitting on the ground bleeding from our falls.
Words are everywhere…swirling around us daily…we have to be careful which words we allow to have our attention. I guess that is why Bible studies are so important. It’s not just the benefit of the fellowship with others… it’s also the gradual “getting to know you” with the One who created us. The more we know about who He is and what His purpose is…the easier it becomes to be able to differentiate between the types of words... whether the words currently playing in our minds are words of condemnation or words of the Holy Spirit convicting us of something that we need to change for the benefit of our spiritual body.
I keep falling…but I am so very grateful for the Holy Spirit’s ever-faithful presence and patience. I am even grateful for the conviction…for even when I don’t want to hear it, it serves to remind me of the One who loves me so much that He will not let me stay as I am…but He does accept me that way. I am loved.
What better love is there than the one we have been shown in the sacrifice of Christ for us? Because of His great love…we are free from the condemnation of the law…the consequences of breaking them which brings death. We do not have to perish because of our sin. He has paid the price for us. We can have life and have it abundant and full.
And that, I believe, was His point from the very beginning…
“There is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
** John 16:8
“And when that One comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.”
Both scriptures from The Interlinear Bible (my favorite translation..directly from the original Greek & Hebrew texts)