Conviction vs. Condemnation

The voices are distinguishable if you ask this question: “Which of these voices is offering me hope?”

img_0633When the voices in your head tell you that you can never change, that you will always be “this way”, and that it is not worth trying to change, you are under the influence of condemnation. Condemnation offers no hope, only escapes. But the escapes it offers you you will need to seek rehab to later get free from, because the escapes are not actually a free pass from your pain or trouble, but rather an open prison door inviting you in, until the door slams shut. If you are an addict, you are likely talked to often by the voice of condemnation.

Condemnation reviews your history. All of your mistakes and shortcomings are paraded before you. Every negative word spoken against you or by you becomes the narrative that will now loop in your head like a seige. And if your history isn’t enough, condemnation will drum up your family history. “Remember Uncle Ralph was an addict and mentally unstable. Your dad was a workaholic and your sister ran away at 13 years old….” Condemnation spins its web of futility until you feel that you are destined to be trapped in a mind and body that wars against you and you will never break free.

What then is conviction like?

Conviction is the voice of the Holy Spirit that shines a light on the wrong that we are stumbling in. His voice sounds like hope. It sees us in our trouble and points us to the remedy. “Forgive that person. Turn off that website. Walk away from that argument. Call someone to pray for you. Follow through on your promises. I will help you.”

The voice of conviction never points out a wrong without offering a hope that things can change. It says, “Yes, I see you are drinking again trying to drown your pain, but I have a better solution for you and it includes me walking with you through your pain to the other side. I can redeem all of your lost years and your broken promises. I can give you a new heart, and work all things together for good.”

Conviction does not bring up past wrongs, especially if you have already been forgiven of those. God says He throws our sins into the “Sea of Forgetfulness” when we ask Him for forgiveness. The record is blotted out, and He does not see them anymore. So He will not bring them up. Nor does He use your family tree as a weapon against your hope and future, but, instead, strengthens you to become a new branch that bears fruit, that puts down new roots, and has the potential to create brand new orchards that grow strong and fruitful.

The voices are distinguishable if you ask this question: “Which of these voices is offering me hope?”


My Deep Breath

Having a few physical complications from time to time give cause for me to take painkillers for relief.  Often, I ignore my condition as long as I can, and carry on.  Other times, my pain is brought to my attention by the way I am breathing…short, shallow and often.  Paying attention to the way I breathe is a clue to me about how my body is processing pain.

I have to admit that I love the feeling of the release from pain that is accompanied by a couple of “Aleve” tablets.  This is characterized by my lungs taking in a deep breath of air and exhaling slowly.  Sometimes, the big exhale is what alerts me to the fact that my body is relaxing and no longer talking about pain.

One of my favorite songs by Jonathan Stockstill, is a song called “I Need You”.  The song borrows it’s lyrics and themes from the scripture:

Acts 17:28

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Worship and prayer are our deepest breaths.  When you find you are breathing quickly, and your heart is hurried and cannot be still, you need to worship.  When your pain is overwhelming you and your hope is waning, you need moments in the presence of God where your “time stands still” and you are receiving the strength, life and breath of the One who formed and fashioned you in His image.

Take a deep breath today of the presence of  God.  Come into His presence with worship, prayer, and thankfulness.  Tell Him “I Need You”, and then wait while He breathes into you the strength you need.  Listen as He sings your victory and your hope over you today. Let Him be your deep breath.