repentance, conviction, condemnation, Oh Lord Help Us , Christian, women, ministry, scripture

Condemnation leads to guilt and shame. Conviction, however, is God’s loving kindness leading us to repentance and back to His refuge.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1, ESV

If that is true, why do so many wrestle with feelings of condemnation? I believe it’s the fine line between condemnation and conviction.

The difference…

Condemnation oozes from the knowledge of laws and rules. When I feel condemned, I seek to soothe the discomfort of guilt and shame. There are plenty of cheerful quotes on Pinterest to set me right. There’s generally glitter and flowers and unicorns on them, too. Or a Chevron pattern. Whatever floats your boat. Frankly, I’ve come to know that condemnation plugs the holes in my boat with a sponge.

When I feel condemned, I seek to soothe the discomfort of guilt and shame. Click To Tweet

Conviction is entirely different because it is borne from the Holy Spirit and leads to repentance. Understanding Almighty God fully loves me means I no longer fear punishment; I know I am His. In response to the sin that separates me from Him, conviction leads me back to His loving arms.

  • I’m not spending enough time with the Lord.
  • I don’t have enough self-control.
  • I’m not good enough for God.

Condemnation screams: “You should be more. You’re not good enough.” Well-meaning friends (and social media) argue “You are enough!” But the guilt perpetuates. Because the reality is—I keep falling off the proverbial wagon and landing face first in the mud. The cycle repeats ad nauseam. Why? Because contrary to popular belief, it’s not the thought that counts. Feeling bad about something and saying I’m sorry is about me. When I feel convicted I have to be vulnerable, repent, and ask forgiveness; because I know what I did caused brokenness.

Conviction says: You’re right. You’re not good enough. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”(Ephesians 2:4, ESV).

Condemnation leads to guilt and shame. Conviction, however, is God's loving kindness leading us to repentance and back to His refuge. #repentance #spiritualgrowth #scripture

From death to life…

This can be a hard pill to swallow initially. It seems to contradict fairness and encouragement. However, when the Bible talks about us being dead in our sin it’s only figurative to the point that we don’t know when our physical bodies will perish. Yet we are literally spiritually dead as a doornail until God breathes life into our dead souls. We cannot ultimately save ourselves from anything.

No one is getting up and walking out of a morgue. You’re dead on a slab. Resuscitation is off the table—you have to be resurrected.

Edward Hunt, Associate Pastor Sojourn Fairfax

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17, ESV

How deep the Father’s love for us! He sent Jesus! It is He who makes us good enough through the work of His Spirit. Friends, it is God’s kindness that is meant to lead us to repentance. Not fear of judgement or completing our check-list of self-punishment.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Psalm 34:22, ESV


When the boat is sinking back into condemnation land, or the wagon threatens to throw us off, we must find refuge in Christ. And if we still feel swept out to sea and can’t see any redemption or refuge in sight, let’s do a little backwards planning (as my husband likes to say). The instruction in Psalm 34:22 is to run to the Lord for rescue. Deliverance isn’t found anywhere else.

Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:5, CSB

When sin creeps in, don’t allow condemnation to drown you. Instead, permit conviction to bring you back to the One who loves you with an everlasting love. Take shelter in His arms; and worship your Redeemer.

Condemnation leads to guilt and shame. Conviction, however, is God's loving kindness leading us to repentance and back to His refuge. #repentance #spiritualgrowth #scripture

About the author
Emily Jones
I am a recovering princess and co-founder of Jonestown which is made up of my steadfast husband, Sean, and our 3 children who have all reached double digits. Embracing the value of change is a constant theme in my life. As a teen I swore I would never marry a man who was in the ministry or military. God has a beautiful sense of humor as I have been married to an Army man for 19 years, and I myself am pursuing a master's degree in biblical counseling.

Comments (07)

  1. Yes This! I know I have confused the two. I need to understand that with conviction or out of conviction life can come forth!

  2. Condemnation feels completely different than conviction, because when you are convicted of something specific, you repent and are restored. Condemnation is a general yuck that you can’t seem to shake, and it’s from the enemy.

  3. This is an important distinction to make. Sometimes Christians seem to think that no negative feelings about themselves, their thoughts or their actions are allowed because “there is no condemnation”. This is not Biblical at all. We are supposed to mourn the sin that separates us from God, but not in a self-flajulating, condemning way – rather a godly sorrow that leads to repentance (like Peter who cries after he denies Christ, not like Judas who kills himself after betraying Christ). I love that you a point out that God’s kindness leads us to repentance – this is one of my favourite bible verses. God is so very very kind, but we mustn’t take his kindness as license to go back to the sin he saved us from – what a terrible misuse of his grace! It is designed to lead us to turn back to Him. And why wouldn’t we want to turn back to such a good, kind, gracious and loving God?
    Wonderful post :-). Hannah

    1. I appreciate the distinction between Peter and Judas – I’d never heard that before. Peter understood he was fully loved by Jesus. Believing in God’s unconditional love for us brings us back to worshiping Him. Judas missed it and paid with his life. ~ Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for setting us straight! I have gotten them confused in the past!

  5. “permit conviction to bring you back to the One who loves you with an everlasting love.” – I love this sentence because it’s a reminder of our loving Father. He always wants us to reconnect with Him no matter the sin.

  6. Let’s face it – sometimes we just like to wallow in the condemnation! It’s like kids playing in the mud – it sort of feels good after the period of sin. We beat ourselves up, feel guilty and condemned, and then we get the idea after awhile that ‘my sin must be so bad that God can’t even put up with me.’ How subtle our pride can be…we even think our sin is greater than God’s capacity to forgive!
    Excellent word.

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