Day 20: Guilt – Conviction or Condemnation?

Conviction or Condemnation?

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
1 John 3:19-20

To my own detriment, I am often motivated by guilt.  Sometimes I blame myself for things I have no control over.  I don’t even realize I’m doing it until my husband points out to me that I haven’t done anything wrong.  I even apologize sometimes when I know I did nothing wrong just to avoid conflict and smooth things over.  I let false guilt, called condemnation; get a grip on me far too often.

There are also times when I have done something wrong and I need God to bring that to my attention so I can deal with it and be better for it.  The Holy Spirit guides us through our conscience and helps us remember how to live in a way that is pleasing to God.  This is called conviction.

Sometimes it’s tricky to know the difference between conviction and condemnation because they feel so much alike to us.  Here’s a quick guide to help you tell the difference.


Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
2 Corinthians 7:10-11

Origin:  God’s Holy Spirit that resides in us (John 16:13)

Basis:  truth about what pleases God and the grace He extends to us

Purpose:  to bring the problem to our attention so we can deal with it

greater intimacy with God
thanksgiving & praise
return to righteousness
restored relationships
godly sorrow
no regret
greater desire for righteousness
justice & mercy


Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:  “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Revelation 12:10

Origin:  Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) & accuser of the saints

Basis:  lies about who we are and what God and people think about us

Purpose:  to accuse and condemn God’s children

separation from God
withdrawal from people
false sense of guilt
feelings of worthlessness
pulling away
worldly sorrow
diminished desire to keep trying

So Which is It?

Are you feeling bad about something and guilt is creeping up on you?
Take the time to examine the truth.
Ask yourself, “Have I done anything wrong before God?”

If your answer is YES – then God is calling you back into a right relationship with Him.

  • Admit what you did and receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
  • Right your wrong to whatever extent is possible (Numbers 5:6-7).

If your answer is NO – then the devil is condemning and accusing you.

  • Remember you belong to God and no one can bring an accusation against you (Romans 8:33)
  • Reject the feelings of condemnation. Tell devil to take his lies and get lost.
  • Run to Jesus instead. You’ll get no condemnation from Him.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

If you need a little more help figuring out if you did anything wrong or not, try these questions.

Did I do something I know I shouldn’t have?
Did I break a command of God?
Did I fail to do the right thing?  (James 4:17)


Did I make an honest mistake?
Did I make the best decision I could with the information available to me at that time?
Did I do the best I could with what I had?

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Romans 8:33-35

No one can condemn what God has made right.  Nothing can separate us from His love.

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Don’t listen to any voice that tries to convince you that you have been separated from the love of God because of what you’ve done or who you are.  Reject that thought for the lie that it is.  Know that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.  Take your brokenness to Him and He allow Him to  restore you.  He’s waiting for you with open arms.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  Respond to conviction.  Reject condemnation.

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#standstrong”]Respond to conviction. Reject condemnation.[/tweetthis]

I love love love this song!  If you are feeling harassed by false guilt or regrets, listen to “Grace Wins” by Matthew West.  When Grace wins, so do we!

[youtube id=”LktB826t4xY”]

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#standstrong”]When Grace wins, so do we![/tweetthis]

This is the story behind the song.  You don’t want to miss this!  Good stuff.

[youtube id=”V3ZbDwCoBCw”]

To read other posts in this series, click the image below.

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Blessings, Elizabeth

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  • I love how you broke this down! What an awesome reference! #livefreeThursday

  • Excellent post! I am talking about this very thing at a retreat I am doing this weekend, the contrast between guilt (conviction) and shame (condemnation.) I think this is an area where many of us get stuck. I think you contrasted the two beautifully! Stopping by from #LiveFreeThursday. Keep writing, sister!!

  • I love this, Elizabeth! Such a clear way to point out the differences between the two. When I read your outline above, I can’t help but wonder why I sometimes get these two confused. Yet when we feel that guilt, the water gets ‘muddied’, which is exactly what the enemy wants. Thank you so much for this post. I’m saving it for reference later!

    • Kristine, I’m glad you found it helpful. I’ve had to wrestle through the issue myself so often I needed to write it down to remind myself. Have a blessed day!

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