“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 (NIV)
God’s been working with me on this concept for a long time now. I have many friends who remind me that Satan is the one who condemns, but God is the One who convicts. I used to think, “Who cares what you call it? It still feels awful.”
But, that’s simply not true. I was still living under condemnation when I uttered those words and as I mentioned above, it took me probably two years before I really understood the difference.
Condemnation makes you feel bad – about yourself, the situation, those around you. For me, when I would feel condemned, I felt like I had a spotlight attached to me as I walked around and interacted with everyone – that they could all see the areas in my life where I fell short, sinned, or just plain needed helps, and lots of it!
Conviction, however, is quite another experience altogether. It’s a soft whisper that speaks directly to your soul. It invites you to want to change, whispering the promises of Truth, encouraging change. Instead of the glaring spotlight that highlights my mistakes to everyone I interact with, it’s more of a voice in my ear encouraging me to make the right choices – to please my Father and reminding me of the reasons why I want to choose wisely.
Conviction and condemnation both require hard work to make the necessary changes to rid myself of the bad choice. The difference is condemnation has guilt attached to it whereas conviction energizes and reminds me I’m not that choice – I’m a child of God and He will help me if I ask.
It goes one step further. Not only am I not on this journey alone, but conviction invites me to come to God while I’m still messed up, still sinning, still making choices that displease Him but with a heart that wants to change. I give Him a willing heart – He replaces my sin with victory by showing me how to change.
The revelation that had been explained to me for years but I finally have started to experience firsthand brought with it another blessing. I was able to see I have a choice in how I respond to others mistakes – namely my children’s. I can offer them condemnation and all the guilt that comes with that or I can gently convict, praying that God will touch them in the areas they are failing and motivate them to come to Him for help to make the changes necessary in their lives.
Condemnation versus conviction. Both can bring about change. One will make me feel guilty and worthless while the other encourages and builds up.
Just as it took me two years to understand the difference, I’m sure I have a learning curve ahead implementing the sweet song of conviction to those around me…but I have a willing heart and God loves to use that when I freely give it to Him.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015