There is a huge difference between conviction and condemnation, and the distinction is far too often ignored. I’ve heard people quote “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” to someone who was being convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. I’ve see Christians walking around dejected and depressed in condemnation over something that they’ve repented and been forgiven of.
These almost similar, yet mixed feelings are leaving many Christians confused not knowing what to do with them. If I feel guilty, do I ignore it? Is that the devil trying to condemn me? Or is God telling me to repent? I’m grieved over how quickly some Christians feel that they can answer these questions for others without really knowing what the bible teaches.
Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…
That is a true verse. If you are in Christ, you are not condemned, and therefore need not feel any condemnation. But where does it say “there is no conviction for those who are in Christ Jesus”? I remember reading in John that “when He [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John16:8).
Here’s my quick definitions of conviction and condemnation:
CONVICTION – this is a feeling brought about by the Holy Spirit of godly sorrow over a sin that needs to be repented of. Whenever conviction comes, there is always a subsequent action that needs to take place – namely confession and repentance. Conviction leads people to action, and the end result is joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. When conviction comes, God expects you to follow it as the path leads to joy in Him.
(Scriptures to think about: Galatians 5:16, 2 Corinthians 7:10)
CONDEMNATION – this is a feeling brought about by the enemy of intense guilt over a sin that has been confessed, repented of, and forgiven. Condemnation tries to convince you that there is something you need to add to the finished work of Jesus Christ – as if His sacrifice wasn’t sufficient to forgive your sin. Condemnation leads people to no specific action except for to wallow in their guilt, robbing Christians of their joy and confidence in the Holy Spirit. When condemnation comes, it’s time to rebuke the enemy in Jesus’ Name, and start meditating on the cross, thanking God for His grace.
(Scriptures to think about 2 Corinthians 7:10, Colossians 2:14, 1 John 1:9, Revelation 12:10)