Are you feeling convicted or condemned and what’s the difference?

Are you feeling convicted or condemned and what’s the difference? It shouldn’t be so hard to figure out but sometimes it is.

While they are different they don’t always feel that way. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two. Mostly this is because of lack of information.

Personally, I think some of it depends on one’s personality. For example, many people with overdeveloped consciences will often feel condemned when they are only being convicted. I’m definitely one of those. So here are some points of clarification that might help.

1. The tone will be different.

If it’s the Enemy, the tone will be accusatory and harsh. It will cause us to feel confused. Satan always means to drag us down.



If it’s the Holy Spirit, the tone may be imploring but not accusatory. We will not feel confused. The Holy Spirit always lifts us up.


2. The words will be different.

The message from Satan will be vague. The words used will be oppressive and consequently, we will feel helpless and hopeless. The words of Satan (“You will never amount to anything”, “You are hopeless”, “You’ll never get it”,) will cut our self-image to the bone. It will cause severe introspection and make us feel anxious.

The message from the Holy Spirit will be specific, not vague. (Like when I get convicted about my shopping cart in a parking lot as I posted yesterday.) The message from the Holy Spirit brings peace, encouragement, and wisdom.

3. The message about our past will be different.

The voice of Satan reminds us of our past sins. He drags up all those old feelings of sin, guilt, and shame. He reminds us of our failures even though if we’ve confessed them, even God doesn’t remember them. We do, however, and Satan knows that.

The Holy Spirit may remind us of our past but it will be to help us in our current situation, not condemn us. It is much like when Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman and brought up her past. It wasn’t meant to condemn but to show that Jesus knew her past and still loved her.  John 4:17-20 

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

When Satan uses our past to condemn us remember one of my very favorite verses in all the Bible,  Philippians 3:13:

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…………..”

4. The “pull” of the message is different.

The enemy pulls us away from God. He condemns us as unworthy and incapable. We avoid prayer and Bible study.

The Holy Spirit draws us to God. We want to connect with God. We want to talk to God about it. We want to pray about. EVERYTHING the Holy Spirit does is meant to deepen our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

5. The message of “discipline” will be different.

Yes, we are disciplined by God. There is just too much evidence in scripture to think otherwise. Many people don’t like to believe that but it’s true, nonetheless. And many times, that discipline could’ve been avoided as is so clearly stated in Proverbs 6:27 & 28:

 “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?  Can a man walk on hot coals without        his feet being scorched?” (translation-play with fire and you WILL get burned.)

But discipline at our own hands (which ultimately comes from Satan) is cruel. It is meant to harm us, not restore us. It is meant to make us feel worse about ourselves and consequently sin even more. Satan uses our mistakes against us. This is the whole reason Satan comes after us. There is no other. The more he can get us to live with him in the abyss, the better he likes it. He knows that once we are there, we are likely to stay there. That is not true, however, but he convinces us it is.

He uses our emotions against us by causing us to rely on them instead of trusting what God says.

The Holy Spirit though will remind us of God’s truths. He will remind us we have been forgiven. He will shower us with grace. The Holy Spirit disciplines as a loving Father. Proverbs 3:11-12:

“My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

 James 3:17 makes clear that when God speaks wisdom into our lives (which may or may not be a form of discipline), that wisdom is pure, peaceable, reasonable, and full of mercy. 

Two caveats:

If you suffer anxiety and/or depression(or both), you might have a more difficult time than others telling the difference between conviction and condemnation because your emotions are very raw. Concentrate on God’s stated truths and not your feelings. Besides, everything feels heavy, burdensome, and dark to you right now. It’s the nature of the illness. How do you see the light at the end of the tunnel when you can’t even find the tunnel in the first place?

I’ve been there. It’s not a good place to be.

Ask yourself a simple question, “Does this sound like a loving father or a harsh one?” A conviction from God will absolutely draw you closer to Him. If you find yourself pulling away, not praying, not reading Scripture, this is not from God.

The other caveat. There are some people who confuse peaceful “feelings” with what is real “peace”, the kind that emanates from God. We can conjure up emotional peace just because all is right in our world on a particular day. Be sure the peace you are experiencing is the peace described in Philippians 4:8, a peace you can’t understand, a peace that is different than a feeling, a peace that affirms your standing before God.

I hope this helps. It helped me to write it.

God bless and have a good day.