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?”


What if You Went Out for Lunch?

Caution:  This post will cover a rather gruesome event that happened in Israel’s history, so be sure your food has digested before reading.

Let me set up the story:

The Children of Israel have passed through the Red Sea, have received the 10 Commandments from God, and are in the midst of establishing themselves as a nation in the lands that God has promised them as an inheritance.  God begins to speak to His people, reminding them of His provision, His blessing, and His design for the way they are to live.  Deuteronomy 28 begins to speak of the blessings that will follow their lives if they obey the Lord, and then in verse 15, God enumerates the curses that will fall upon them if they instead choose disobedience.  It is verses 49-57 that set up the story we will look at in 2 Kings 6.

49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.

53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.

God’s words to His children sounded disgusting and ridiculous to the people just freed from Egypt who had followed God through a desert.  The thoughts were so far from their imaginations.  Who would stoop so low?  Who would be so perverse as to eat their own child?

Well, as sure as God’s word, a few generations later 2 Kings 6:24-31 takes place.  Go ahead and read that passage before continuing by clicking on the reference above^.

This story is astounding, grotesque, horrible, and so full of despair, and it is a true story.  Before you dismiss it as something you have nothing in common with, let me paint another picture:

You are struggling.  You are trying to put one foot in front of the other, but life seems to keep knocking you down.  Your mind becomes a city that has been besieged by voices.  The voices say things like:  “You will never get better.”  “You are just like your good for nothing father.” “This is what your life is all about now–you are a failure!”  “You will always be an addict.”  “No one wants to hear your whining anymore.”  “You are better off dead.” “Why are you so stupid?”  “No one will ever want you.”

Have you been there?  Are you there now?

The enemy of our souls, Satan, comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Those are his main objectives.  One of his great tools on mankind is the siege of the mind.  If he can keep his “loop of lies” running through your head, he can get you to give up the very things that are the most precious to you.  He can convince you to sacrifice the most sacred things at the altar of addiction, murder, or suicide.  It all starts with lies that form a continuous loop in your head.

Now take a couple of minutes and read 2 Kings chapter 7.  Go ahead, you need this!

My question that I want to pose to you is this:  “What if you went out to lunch instead?”

What if those women, desperate for food, would have decided instead to pack up their babies and head out of the city for lunch, like the lepers did instead of forming their destructive plan?

Of course a siege feels scary.  You’ve been threatened by your enemy.  But the truth is–“Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.”  When you step out of your siege, your feet sound like the thunder of  an army.  Your decision to break the cycle, get help, humble yourself, and change your environment starts an earthquake in the camp of your enemy.  Your God goes before you.

What does it mean to leave the city?  It might mean going for a walk, calling someone to pray for you, making an appointment with a counselor, checking yourself into rehab, following through with your medications, and spending time in God’s Word.  Whatever you are most afraid to do–whatever you keep talking yourself out of in exchange for a quick solution, is likely what you need to do.

When you live in a siege mentality, you will make poor companion choices, you will look for quick fixes, you will become desperate, and you will eat your “baby”.  You will trade in the precious for a fix.

So I challenge you, when that loop begins playing in your head–even from the first couple of sentences, recognize it as the voice of your enemy.  Call out to God for help, and then grab up everything that is precious to you and take a walk.  Walk away from the lies, take steps towards your freedom, and don’t stop until your enemy is scattered.  If you have to do it 14 times a day, do it.  Your footsteps out are weapons against your adversary.  Keep going–

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