The Difference Between Condemnation and Conviction

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin…” (John 16:8). “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). The topic of this article is the difference between conviction, condemnation, and repentance.

Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit. Conviction always comes from God. Conviction is always specific (you lied, you made a wrong choice, your attitude is wrong, your motives are impure, etc). With conviction there is always a solution (repent, take responsibility, make restitution, etc). And conviction always produces hope and restoration (God is making a difference in you so He can make a difference through you).

God uses conviction to get our attention, to remind us of areas of our lives in need of His transformational touch, to lovingly discipline us, to restore us, to draw us closer to Himself, and ultimately to make us more like Jesus in our behaviors, attitudes, motives, and intentions. God wants to use conviction to give you life to the fullest (John 10:10) by setting you free to be all He has purposed you to be.

Condemnation, on the other hand, never comes from God. Condemnation is usually very general (you are a failure, you can’t be forgiven, you will never get out of this mess, etc). Condemnation never has a solution (you can never change, you deserve this pain, you will never be free, etc). And condemnation always intends to produce despair, depression, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.

The enemy uses condemnation to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Satan wants to destroy your hope because he knows that without hope you will not even make the effort. The enemy wants to use condemnation to keep you beat up, discouraged, afraid, and imprisoned by his lies and deceitful ways.

Repentance is the turning away from one’s sin. Repentance should be our response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is goes far beyond mere agreement with God that you have sinned. Repentance implies change. The best way I know to define repentance is as a change of mind, a change of direction, and a change of purpose. Repentance means to change one’s mind, disposition, and behavior toward God by acknowledging personal error and turning toward God’s universal, objective, constant, absolute truth as found in Scripture.

God uses repentance to help us maintain proper relationship with Him…to help us walk out the practical side of forgiveness and to follow-through with the spiritual development and life-change process….as well as to give us spiritual renewal, restoration, and refreshing.

Bottom line: If Jesus is your Savior, you no longer have to cope with condemnation. Jesus died on a cross to set you free from condemnation. Every week I remind people that ALL of their sin, shame, and guilt was nailed to the cross. When the Holy Spirit convicts you…reject condemnation….choose repentance…. and God will restore you and give you renew your hope!

Seven Biblical Responses to Difficult People

Do you have some difficult relationships? I have heard it said there are basically nine types of difficult people we will face throughout our lifetimes.

There is the “Sherman Tank”, they will run right over you. There is the “Star Performer”, who feels they are entitled to your preferential treatment. There is the “Megaphone”, who will talk your ear off. There is the “Bubble Buster”, who deflates everyone’s enthusiasm. There is the “Volcano”, who has temper like Mt. St. Helens. There is the “Crybaby”, who is a chronic complainer. There is the ”Nitpicker”, who is an unpleasable perfectionist. There is the “Backbiter”, who is a master of the calculated rumor. There is the “Space Cadet”, who is simply on a different wavelength than everyone else.

Personally, I think I can make that list a little longer. Can you think of other labels you would give the difficult person in your life? That might be fun, and even therapeutic! Here is what I know about difficult relationships. Everybody has at least one. Everybody can become one to someone else. We cannot change them but we can learn to relate with most of them. We will not get along equally with everyone. We get along best in our relationships when we mature spiritually and emotionally. It is not personal; hurting people, hurt people.

Let me share seven biblical responses to difficult people.

  1. Realize you cannot please everybody. Even Jesus could not please everyone. (John 8:31-47)
  2. Refuse to play their game or get drawn into their drama. The Pharisees tried to catch Jesus by pitting him against the government. He refused to play, “But knowing their evil intent, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, hypocrites?” (Matt 22:18-20)
  3. Never retaliate. “You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matt 5:38-39)
  4. Pray for them. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:44-45)
  5. Control your temper. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20)
  6. Be quick to forgive and even quicker to ask for forgiveness. “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.” (Matt 6:14-15)
  7. Remember that everything and everyone, even a “difficult person”, has God’s fingerprints on them. “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.”

Difficult people are common. Choose a response to them that is uncommon.

Reconciliation is a Step Beyond Forgiveness

For the past couple articles, I have been writing about how God sees all believers are the ambassadors of Christ, and that He has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. “God is reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Cor 5:17-21)

Let’s review the past couple articles in one paragraph; I listed five characteristics of ambassadorship to help us gain a fuller understanding of what it means to be “an ambassador of Christ”. First, an ambassador represents a ruler. Secondly, an ambassador is credentialed. Thirdly, an ambassador is protected. Fourthly, an ambassador is a citizen of the country he represents. Fifth, ambassadors keep in contact with the leader of his home country.

In this article we will look at the process of reconciliation. The process of reconciliation begins with God loving the individuals of the world so much that He sent His only Son to be sacrificed so He could forgive us then reconcile us back to Himself. In the midst of our sin, God chose to clearly demonstrate His love for us by sending Christ to die on a cross for the forgiveness of our sin.

Reconciliation is a step beyond mere forgiveness. Forgiveness means we forgive the offender, but it does not mean we want to continue our relationship with the person who has offended us. Reconciliation goes beyond forgiveness to restoring the relationship. When the above passage says God “reconciled us to Himself in Christ”, it means God has provided more than just forgiveness. He has turned our hearts back toward Himself and He is restoring our relationship with Him. Sin destroyed the relationship God intended to have with people. God sacrificed Jesus to reconcile and restore His relationship with us.

God wants a personal relationship with each of us. Jesus’ death and resurrection provided both forgiveness and victory. Jesus became our High Priest, made all of us ministers of His good news, and gave us direct access to God. Why? Because the God of all creation desires a personal relationship with you! He did not send Christ so we could have a manufactured relationship with a religion. Christianity is the only religion in history solely based on a personal relationship with a Savior.

Not only has God provided a process of forgiving us and reconciling us back to Himself, but He has also “given us the ministry of reconciliation”. As His ministers or ambassadors, we are to be reconcilers of people back to God. God has entrusted to us His message of reconciliation which He as defined as “I am no longer holding the sin of people against them”. We have failed. We have sinned. We have rebelled. Yet, God has given us a message to give to our friends and family; “I am no longer holding your sin against you”… come home.

Feel Like a Failure? God ALWAYS has a Plan

Failure. Have you ever experienced the kind of failure that you thought you would never be able to recover from, or maybe even where those closest to you told you could never recover? And maybe, it was so devastating that is changed your reality, and circumstances. And furthermore, maybe you are still paying a high price for your failure.

There is rarely a week that goes by I don’t receive a message from someone who has messed up in some huge way. One of the first things I always remind a person is that “everything Satan wants to use to destroy them, God wants to use to make them the person He wants them to be”. God is not done with them. And God is not done with you either.

We all need to deal with the issues and failures we are facing. We are personally responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices. Taking personal responsibility is the first step on the path. God being willing to forgive, heal, and restore does not remove consequences or the need to take personal responsibility, it just means that God is wants to restore you.

Each of us has had those days when all needed to be reminded that the Bible is full of messed up people who God used for great things. Noah was a drunk. Abraham was too old. Isaac was a daydreamer. Jacob was a liar. Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused. Moses had a stuttering problem. Gideon was afraid. Samson had long hair and was a womanizer. Rahab was a prostitute. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. David had an affair and was a murderer. Elijah was suicidal. Isaiah preached naked. Jonah ran from God. Naomi was a widow. Job went bankrupt. Peter denied Christ. The Disciples fell asleep while praying. Martha worried about everything. The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once. Zaccheus was too small. Paul was too religious. Timothy had an ulcer…AND Lazarus was dead!

So today I’m sure there is someone reading this article and you think you are done because of something you’ve done; that your failure is beyond forgiveness or recovery. You are not done because God is not done. Do not walk way. Do not give up. God always has a plan.  It might be a painful journey, but God always has a plan.

I just wanted to remind you today that God is for you. God will use every single thing the enemy wants to use to destroy you, to make you the person He wants you to me, if you will just let Him. Surrender to Him. Trust Him. I’m for you. They are many people rooting for you. This is not the day to give up. This is the day to dig in, come clean, get honest, embrace the pain, and begin your journey toward hope, healing, and restoration.