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Condemnation vs Conviction


In the midst of the strong words of Jesus, I want to take a minute and talk about how Jesus corrects His children. This is really important. It is really easy for us to get into a tailspin when we feel the rebuke of the Lord, and that is not His intention.

There are 2 parts to this issue.

The first thing is to distinguish Condemnation and Conviction.

The other important issue is how you deal with it.

Condemnation is vague. Perhaps it has spoken these words in your ear: “You will never get it right.” “You always hurt people.” “You call yourself a Christian?” These sound strangely like what the accuser once said to Jesus “If you are the Son of God…”

Condemnation leads nowhere but down and away from Jesus. It crushes your spirit and is not redemptive in any way. It is the voice Adam and Eve heard in the garden once they had eaten of the worlds fruit something told them they were naked – exposed – vulnerable – out from under the protection of their wonderful creator. Jesus says to them (yes, I know it was God, but anytime I see God in human form – like walking in the garden in the cool of the day, I figure it is Jesus) “who told you that you were naked?” The clear implication is that their whole cover-up was rooted not in the words of God, but another voice.

Condemnation’s voice is far different than that of conviction. It comes in the voice of the accuser. satan is called the “accuser of the brethren” and as such He is always pointing fingers.

Condemnation is the voice of hell!

Conviction on the other had is 100% redemptive.

Conviction is specific. The first indication that it is God speaking correction rather than satan speaking junk, is specificity (don’t try to say that out loud – it will get your tongue in a knot.) The Holy Spirit speaks to your heart in clear and actionable correction. If you have no idea how to fix what is wrong, after a time of prayer, seeking His face, it is probably not His voice.

Conviction is an invitation! (I wish I could some how convey what a big deal this is! Let me try just saying it again.)

Conviction is an invitation! (Let me try a different color.)

Conviction is an invitation! (Are you getting it – let me explain.) When the Holy Spirit convicts, it is a gift card to the repentance store.

Repentance is not something you can buy with your self-punishment, or with some period of time spent weeping, or feeling stupid or pathetic.

Repentance is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25,) and the exciting part is when God gives repentance it is the doorway to freedom. If you will accept the gift of repentance (change of mind – aka renewal of your mind) you will find yourself free from the pattern of thought or action that got you into this mess in the first place (see 2 Corinthians 7:10-11.)

This is sooo big – don’t miss it!

God’s gifts are completely effective. They never fall short. If you will accept the gift of repentance and fully walk it out, you will be free.

Let me recapitulate – Conviction is an invitation to FREEDOM! (not license – freedom)

Conviction points out areas of slavery in your life, and sets you on your own Freedom Road. [Tweet This]

For a detailed description of how to walk out repentance and break through to freedom check out my post “Repentance, The Path To Comfort

One caveat - There is a condemnation that comes from God - that is the condemnation resting on every man who has not given his life to Jesus Christ. (John 3:18, 36)

I pray this helps.

Thanks for coming by.


16 thoughts on “Condemnation vs Conviction

  1. Where God Takes Me

    Someone recently illuminated for me the difference between condemnation and conviction and it was an invaluable lesson for me. Thanks for reviewing this very important distinction. You are so right, condemnation is a spirit-breaker, while conviction is an invitation for redemption.

    1. Ben Nelson

      It really is a big deal - some folks shy away from conviction because they have been crushed by condemnation, not realizing the life that is offered to us by the Holy Spirits's correction.
      Thanks for jumping in today!

  2. Caddo Veil

    Ben, this may just be your best message yet!!! Very well done, brother! It's possible that it may require a Holy revelation, or intervention, for folks to "get" the difference--that is what happened for me, so I'm only speaking from my experience. It was truly life-changing when I finally learned to hear the difference between the 2 voices. Condemnation is certain death--and conviction brings more joy and abundant living. I'm not trying to be a drama queen here (though I realize I lean toward that..)--but it was a lot like struggling with math for years, and one day I aced an algebra test. Jesus doesn't want things to be harder for us, He wants to make it all do-able--just one of the great things I love about Him! Thanks again, Ben--terrific class today!! God bless you and the fam--love, sis Caddo

    1. Ben Nelson

      I really wanted to get this out there, because some of Jesus words are pretty strong, and sometimes i get over there and start wagging my finger, and try to play Holy Spirit. This way if folks know the difference, they can tune me out and focus on what the Spirit is saying.

      by the way - i went the other way - i was my math king until i got real cocky and failed an algebra test - needed to be brought down a notch

      and thanks as always for the encouragement.


      1. Caddo Veil

        Ben, you are so refreshingly humble--which catches the ear of folks who want Jesus, truly, but have been beat up too badly by His representatives. Sending you a huge sister hug from the other coast. And the math stories are funny!

  3. Debbie

    You explained this so wonderfully , Ben! Thank you! I was given a list once that told us 10 ways to know if it is His Holy Spirit or satan talking to us. This was in there, that the enemy is vague and He is specific. What a blessing and a help. I will be remembering that conviction is an invitation to freedom! God bless you!

  4. cshowers

    Hallelujah Ben! I am so thankful for my repentance gift card. I've used it many times, and it never fails to bring me closer in intimacy with my Beloved Jesus. Bless you for breaking it down, writing the revelation and making it plain as Habakkuk said. 🙂

    1. Ben Nelson

      Glad to - I sometimes think we are robbed of God's simple gifts because we make them way more complex than the really are - and this conviction and repentance) is like that.
      Thanks for stropping by!

  5. meetingintheclouds

    Thanks Ben.
    Thank You, Holy Spirit, for the times of conviction, big and small, when You convict and show the way and empower and enable us to go the way. They are indeed invitations to return to the area of peace and joy and oneness in our fellowship with our triune God.

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  7. noordinaryjoy61

    "Condemnation is the voice of hell! Conviction on the other had is 100% redemptive." That was a lightbulb moment for me. Every single person needs to know this. Outstanding post, Ben.

    1. Ben Nelson

      thank you so much - believe me it was a light bulb for me too - for decades i knew - condemnation bad, conviction, good, but for the life of me i didn't get why it was good. It still felt like i blew it.

      When i started to feel that conviction was actually a gift and the way out of my stupidity and failure - wow - what a difference.

      thanks again for your encouraging words.


  8. Maria Tatham (Elizabeth Ott)

    Yes, Ben, when it is the Enemy, I always feel confused, have a general sense of everything about me being wrong, and what do I fix first. With the Lord, it is a specific He is dealing with, and then I can perceive and obey one thing He's pointed out.
    Very helpful to us, what you've written from walking with Him. (Yes, I think it must have been Jesus in the garden!) Have a blessed day, truly.


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