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The Real Deal

“The Holy Spirit makes us aware of our lack of holiness to stimulate us to deeper yearning and striving for holiness. But Satan will attempt to use the Holy Spirit’s work to discourage us.”

Jerry Bridges

They say you can tell a counterfeit bill from studying a real dollar bill. On a genuine dollar the texture of the ink is a bit raised so it feels a certain way. You can also hold a fake bill next to a real one and compare the differences. A magnifying glass reveals fine, detailed lines on the real deal while a fake bill has blurry areas. Studying the truth in God’s Word and getting to know the One, true God helps us tell the difference between conviction and condemnation. The definition of conviction is to be convinced of sin, to prove or determine to be guilty. The meaning of condemnation is to judge, to pronounce sentence against, to disapprove or to blame.

The source of conviction is the Holy Spirit, representing the compassionate heart of God. Romans 2:4b tells us it’s God’s kindness which leads us to repentance. The source of condemnation is Satan, a.k.a. the “accuser of the brethren.” When I’m convicted, it’s as if the Holy Spirit is shining a spotlight on a particular sin so I am able to confess my sin and repent. On the other hand, Satan’s condemnation is general and vague. I feel guilty but I have no idea how to change that.

Conviction brings life and freedom and makes me feel hopeful as I’m forgiven and cleansed of my sin. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I feel hopeless, slimed and ashamed when I’m condemned by the enemy and it brings death, destruction and captivity. Feeling convicted is gentle, whereas feeling condemned is overwhelming.

Conviction attacks a specific action, our sin, though condemnation attacks our character, the core of who we are. Conviction draws you toward God, while condemnation draws you away from God. The way out of conviction is repentance. There is no way out of condemnation. It just leads you down deeper into a dark abyss of hopelessness. Repentance restores our relationship with God as we receive His forgiveness, which results in peace. With condemnation you feel unworthy, as if the sin is too big to be forgiven, which results in beating yourself up emotionally and feeling miserable.

Just as the easiest time to clean food off dishes is right after you’re done using them, so too the easiest time to repent is immediately after you’re convicted. If I wait too long to repent after being convicted then my pride begins to swell and makes it much harder to humble myself, to confess my sin and receive God’s forgiveness.

To recognize the counterfeit voice of the enemy, we must study the voice and character of the real God. In order to distinguish lies from the enemy, we must know the truth in the Word of God. Romans 8:1 clearly tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In John 8:11, Jesus tells a woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

God doesn’t point out our sin for the sake of sentencing us, but for the sake of saving us. Conviction is the way to being rescued and delivered from our sin. Broken intimacy due to sin is only rebuilt through repentance. The next time you’re convicted of sin, thank God He provided a way to restore our intimacy with Him.

“If we hear, in our inner ear, a voice saying we are failures, we are losers, we will never amount to anything, this is the voice of Satan trying to convince the bride that the groom does not love her. This is not the voice of God. God woos us with kindness.”

Donald Miller

Relevant Reflections:

1. What accusations or condemning thoughts do you hear from the enemy?

2. Identify Scripture verses which speak the truth to those lies.

3. Speak that truth aloud.


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