I am not condemned.

After my last post I received a question from a friend that I have been itching to answer.  It was a great question:

What is the difference between condemnation and conviction.

I am truly passionate about the fact that we, as Christians, live a life that is supposed to be void of condemnation.  I mentioned in “Baby Hands” that there is a difference between the two.  The definitions I saw in dictionaries had almost the same wording, but I am not looking necessarily for the world’s definition.  I’m looking to see what God says about the two.

I believe condemnation leads to a feeling of guilt.  You know that feeling you have that leads you to think, “I’m a horrible person because of what I’ve thought, said, or done and I am not worthy of being loved.  In order to assuage my guilt I am going to be a better person, do better things, and work my fingers to the bone to outdo my guilt.”  The feeling of guilt doesn’t go away.  It lurks even after you’ve done everything you can think of to make the situation right. Condemnation makes you feel like you are unworthy of forgiveness and therefore you want to hide yourself from God or God’s people.  I believe it comes straight from the enemy; the one who wants you to hide yourself from God and God’s people.  If you are hiding from Him it is hard to hear that what He is really saying is that He loves you and is waiting for you to come to Him for forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Oh look, there’s a whole new discussion…  the difference between grace and mercy!  Fun stuff for another day!

On the contrary, I believe conviction will bring to your attention something that you have thought, said, or done that was not right BUT it leads you to make a conscious decision to ask for forgiveness and then to receive that grace and mercy.  There is no lingering guilt. No feeling the need to beat yourself up over what you did.  When you have been convicted in your spirit, repented and determined to not do that again, and you’ve asked forgiveness, you are set free from that forevermore.

I read a very clear description of this in the Power of a Praying Wife just a few minutes ago:

According to God’s way of doing things, there are three steps to changing our behavior.  First there is confession, which is admitting what we did. Next there is repentance, which is being sorry for what we did.  Then there is asking forgiveness, which is being cleansed and released from what we did.

Very simply said.   Worded beautifully.  (That’s why I quoted her.)

If you believe you have truly confessed your sin to God, (and to someone else, if you are supposed to) and you have repented, meaning, you really don’t want to do that again, then you are forgiven.  Then, if you still feel horrible about what you have done, you may be experiencing condemnation.  How do you combat that?  I believe you need to tell the enemy to leave you alone.  I believe you should tell him aloud that you are forgiven and that he needs to leave you alone.  Fill your life with praise:  music that praises the Lord, scripture memory, etc.  When Matt and I were in the early stages of realizing our huge iceberg of debt I felt like I was being swallowed in shame, guilt, and condemnation.  We had not paid attention to our finances for the first several years of our marriage and when we finally stopped to look at it we were appalled.  The enemy decided to use that time as a good time to attack:  we were down and weak… why not attack?  The things he said to me were, “your parents would be ashamed if they knew…” and “you will never crawl your way out of this” and “you are going to lose everything.”  I still feel my heart tighten when I think of the lies he told me.  Something I’ve heard before is that the enemy can’t exist in the presence of praise.  I decided that if that were true, I was going to surround MYSELF with praise 24/7.  Seriously.  I plastered my house with index cards with scriptures on them that countered what the enemy ways saying.  My favorite was Psalm 121.  I suggest you find something that speaks to you and makes you feel at peace, then write it and quote it over and over again.  When you feel the guilt hit remind the enemy that “your help comes from the maker of heaven and earth.”  Did you catch that?!?  Your helper, the One who wants to HELP YOU, made heaven and earth!  Pretty huge concept!

And one last thing.  When you have felt conviction (the one from God), repented (decided to not repeat that sin), confessed and asked forgiveness, you should be left with a resounding peace.  I love that word.  Peace.  For me it is the feeling that I am right with God.  That I have done what I am supposed to in order to please God.  I might not always make others happy, but if I have done what I am supposed to in order to please GOD, then whether or not others are happy with me is up to them.  If you know in your heart you have done things as scripture suggests (the way Stormie explained it in the quote above) then you should feel peace.  If not, you are being messed with by the enemy, and he’s easy to beat.  Scripture.  Praise.  I was brought to tears the day I heard Casting Crowns’ song on the radio, “Praise you in this storm.”  It utilized the exact scripture that I was memorizing and repeating in order to combat the enemy.  Maybe there is a song that would help you in your battle.

Let me add a disclaimer here.  I admit I have a lack of knowledge about confession.  I do not know a lot about it, other than I believe we are able to go directly to the Father for forgiveness.  I also believe that each situation is unique and whether or not you are supposed to confess to a person may change depending on the actual circumstances.  But what I can say is that when you share your sin, your shortcomings, with another Christian, you will find a great sense of relief.  Sometimes the relief is in that we are not the only one dealing with that issue.  Sometimes it is simply in getting it off your chest.  Many of the very things we struggle with we hide because we feel we would lose friends because of what we’ve done.  Sometimes sharing our deepest secrets with a mature Christian will help heal the wounds we’ve carried for so long.  There is something about bringing our sin into the light, exposing it, and then moving on.  Hard to explain, and I admit I’m not well read up on the topic, but from my experience, I feel my heart lift when I’ve done the steps of confession before God and a trusted friend, repented, and and asked forgiveness from God and, if applicable, the person I’ve wronged.  I believe that the enemy wants to keep using our past sin as a dart and once we bring it to light, the dart isn’t that useful to him anymore.  If we keep our sin hidden, it seems as if the enemy keeps whispering, “they wouldn’t like you if they knew the real you,” or any number of cruel lies, which lead you to feel condemned… which lead you to experience guilt… which leads you to feeling totally separated from God.  None of those are what God intend you to feel!

I have just given you my answer.  I know there are scriptures that back this up but I didn’t have time to find them just now.  Upon a quick google I found the following link that had a great listing of scriptures.  CLICK HERE to read the article that will give you proof from God’s Word of the things I believe!

Some really cool flower (or maybe it was a fruit... he can't remember) that Carson took a picture of.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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6 Responses to I am not condemned.

  1. Matt Privett says:

    Very well said. Ultimately the difference between whether we are feeling condemnation or conviction boils down to whether or not walking according to the Spirit or according to the flesh (Rom 8:4). Only a Christian can walk in the Spirit because only a Christian has the Holy Spirit in them (John 14:17; Acts 2:4). An oft-quoted verse in the Scriptures is Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What is that saying? It’s saying that we are able to stand before God, to come boldly before His throne of grace (Heb 4:16), because we are not identified by ourselves anymore, but by who we have become in Christ. Christ took on sins (and with it the guilt, the condemnation that goes with it) and bore the just wrath of His Father in the stead of all who will ever believe, that they might be credited with His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).

    That is justification that comes on the basis of faith alone (Rom 5:1). That’s what gives we who are unrighteous (Rom 3:10-18) our right standing before God. That’s where the “Therefore” of Romans 8:1 becomes so important, because what the apostle Paul is doing there is building on what he has been writing in those previous chapters. Romans 5 is about our how through Christ we are justified. We are no longer identified with the sin of Adam, but with the perfection of Jesus. Romans 6 says that we are now in Christ and so we must not use that as a license to abuse the grace of God, but consider ourselves slaves of righteousness.

    We fail though. We fail so often. So did Paul. And so in Romans 7 he explains how even he, an apostle, has done things he doesn’t want to do and not done the things he wants to do. He realizes that for the Christian there is a spiritual war going on… the spirit versus the flesh, the new versus the old (a war that doesn’t end until we’re with Jesus, by the way). And because that war doesn’t end, and because we still fail our God, then of course there will be times when we feel defeated, guilty even. Paul says “Don’t.” There is no condemnation if you are in Christ. You trust in Jesus, and if you trust in Jesus, then your mind will be set on the things of the Spirit, and whereas a non-Christian is hostile toward God even if they don’t realize it, you will be able to please God (Rom 8:4-8). The Spirit will convict you of sin… not to bring guilt, but to bring about repentance and the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26), as you have said.

    Wow. I didn’t mean to do all that, but there are some Scripture references for anyone who reads this. Hopefully you all will find them helpful. Thanks for the post. To God be the glory.

    • Jennifer says:

      I neglected to state clearly that the person who asked me the question is a believer. I wrote everything above coming from that perspective, and intended to state as such, but never did.

      I sincerely pray my sweet friend will read the comments you’ve added to my opinions and will begin to feel the peace that I believe Christ wants to offer her.

      Thank you for adding in all the Scripture references. I knew these things and knew I could back them scripturally if asked, but just haven’t had the time this week to do the research. As I said, thank you for adding them! Greatly appreciated.

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