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Conviction or Condemnation: How to Decipher the Voices

Are You Being Convicted or Condemned?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on how we should be living our lives.  Relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers often think they know best.  The Holy Spirit and the devil often toss their ideas into the hat too.  Not to mention, we have our own desires and we have to live with the choices we make.  With all these opinions floating around in our heads, it’s easy to feel like a leaf being tossed in the wind.  When you don’t know which voices to listen to, a great place to start is to figure out whether you’re hearing conviction or condemnation.  It is important to know how they are different and then to realize that only one of them is really worth your time.

convictionAshish_Choudhary/ Pixabay.com

The Purpose of Conviction

One of the easiest ways to understand the word conviction is to think about when someone is declared guilty in a court of law.  The judge and jury have examined the evidence, and agreed that an individual has indeed broken the law.  That type of conviction usually lands a person in jail.  But in a general sense, all of us have the potential to be convicted that something we are doing is wrong and needs to change.

Healthy conviction can come from a number of places.  The legal system is certainly one place it can originate.  For Christians, the Holy Spirit is the primary source of conviction related to sinful behavior.  Parents, bosses, coaches, or anyone given the authority to lead us can also help bring a sense of conviction our way.  Regardless of where conviction comes from, it generally serves one of three purposes.

  1. Teach You.

    It has been said that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.  As someone who has completed both masters and doctoral level education, I completely agree with this statement.  After I completed my first college degree, I thought I knew everything.  Today, I realize there is more that I don’t know than I do know.  So, believe me, there are plenty of things that we don’t even realize we need to learn.  Sometimes when we are convicted of something we are doing wrong, we are actually in the process of learning a different, newer, or better way.

  2. Save You.

    In a spiritual sense, conviction is needed so that we may be saved from the enemy and draw closer to God.  But even if you’re not a deeply spiritual individual, we all need to be saved from something.  Perhaps you think the laws of gravity don’t apply to you.  Try to defy that law and your family may start making new friends at the local funeral home.  Scraped up knees, parent-inflicted consequences, and trips to the local emergency room may provide the conviction needed to save you from harm.

  3. Motivate You.

    Everyone has times when our motivation is lower than needed in order to make a much-needed change.  Perhaps you’re a very social, outspoken person who believes in sharing the truth.  While that may be a good thing, there also may be times when silence would have been a better option.  If you publicly share truths that hurt your friends, you may find yourself a few friends short in the days ahead.  The loss of friends may be just what you need to motivate you to be more cautious with the words you choose to share.

The Distraction of Condemnation

Even though conviction is generally a good thing, it can still hurt us.  It causes us to realize the harmful things we have done to others through our actions or lack of response.  But condemnation brings nothing but pain and usually does not teach, save or motivate us to improve in the future.

When we think of the word condemnation, we often think of condemned buildings that have been deemed unsafe for humans.  What do we do with condemned buildings?  We stay out of them, give up hope on them, and eventually forget about them.

Imagine what it would be like to condemn a human.  Would we stay away from them?  Give up hope on them?  Forget about them?  Well, unfortunately that does happen in our world today.  And one thing you can be sure of is that it won’t bring about the positive change that conviction does.

Disregard Condemnation & Cling to Conviction

You can recognize condemnation and conviction by the words being said.  If you are hearing words from spiritual forces, someone in your life, or your own mind, listen carefully to what is being communicated.  Someone who has your best interest at heart will offer words that prompt you to take action.  They will inspire and motivate you to be a better version of yourself.  Cling to what these voices are saying.  These are voices that will help you reach a better place in life.  They will help you find a place that is more stable, more knowledgeable, safer, and filled with peace.

On the other hand, voices of condemnation bring depression, guilt, feelings of being ashamed or unworthy.  The only places these voices are going to take you are having your doors shut with 4x4s nailed across it.  Words of condemnation distance us from others and often lead others to give up hope on us and to forget about us altogether.  When you hear these voices, declare them pure nonsense, and disregard them.  They are distracting voices that will not lead you to the places you want to go and are therefore not worth your time!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What voices are the strongest in your life?  Those of empowering conviction or debilitating condemnation?
  2. In what ways will you begin disregarding condemnation and clinging to true healthy conviction?

Suggestions for Additional Reading

Condemnation versus Conviction

Convicted but not Condemned

Conviction or Condemnation…Knowing the Difference

Discerning the Difference Between Holy Spirit Conviction and Demonic Condemnation

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