What’s the difference between conviction and condemnation?



PrayingladyThe simple answer is that God convicts and the devil condemns, but a more thorough answer will require an explanation of the two natures of these vastly contrasting and diametrically opposed spiritual beings. Yet before we go there, let us define clearly what these words mean.

  • To convict is: “to impress with a sense of guilt, to convince of error or sinfulness.
  • To condemn is: “to express judgment or strong disapproval, with impending judgment after sentencing.


Role of the Holy Spirit

Friends, let’s start by saying that one of the roles of the precious Holy Spirit is to convict the sinner of his sin issue and make him aware of his need for a Savior. This really is one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit and is the pre-cursor to repentance. There is a difference between convincing someone of something, so they have an opportunity to correct themselves and condemning them as if the trial has already occurred and the sentence passed. Let’s look at what the word says:

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient (beneficial) for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (Holy Spirit) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:Of sin, because they believe not on me.” (John 16:7-11)

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to ‘reprove’ the world of sin because Christ died for the world (John 3:16). Now that Jesus has completed his task of redemption and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb 7:25), the Holy Spirit now interacts with humanity to reprove (or gently correct) man into the knowledge of his sinfulness and need for Christ. He gently corrects because His nature is that of a gentleman.

Friends, there is only one sin that sends us to Hell and that is the sin of unbelief. It is the sin of believing not on the Son of God (John 3:18). If the sinner decides to respond by willful choice to the conviction in his heart, acknowledge his sin, and repent (or turn away) from it, then he has an opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus into his or her life and be saved (Rom 10:8-10). Conviction is one of the Holy Spirits jobs amongst others. Let’s look now at some of his other roles.

In John 14:16, the nature of the Holy Spirit is discussed and expounded upon in the Amplified version, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever” Friends, the loving, all powerful, all seeing and all-knowing Holy Spirit is the comforter who convicts the sinner, yet He also goes on to convict Christians if they too have sinned or warns them that they are leading down a path to temptation. He is an ever present helper who abides with us and helps us along the path of victory in Jesus as He strengthens, encourages and intercedes for us along the way.


Role of satan

Satan, however, in sharp contrast is a slanderer. The word satan literally means ‘accuser of the brethren’, he is contesting with the saints day and night and brings railing accusations against them before the throne of God (Job 1). So evil and perverse by nature, he is NOT all powerful, all seeing or all knowing. He is a fallen angel and limited in his capacity on this earth. He needs co-operation and agreement from man to oppress humanity (voluntarily or involuntarily). He relies on ignorance and deception as his two greatest weapons and to those in Christ, he is a defeated foe, a whipped pup, posing as a lion (1 Peter 5:8) without any real teeth!

The easiest way to discern whether the Holy Spirit or satan is trying to influence you is ‘how’ it is said. The loving and gentle Holy Spirit will use words to build you up, encourage you, comfort you and strengthen you. He will follow the path of the gentleman and NEVER speak to you in a way that hurts. He won’t use an accusatory tone or a sarcastic spin. He is genuine, truthful, patient, kind and caring. He always speaks in line with the Holy Scriptures, He will never contradict the word of God. He can also show you things to come (John 16:13) as personal edification or warning.

Satan and his demonic cohorts however will use phrases like, “you shouldn’t have done that”, “you’ll never get out of this”, “no one likes you”, “why don’t you just quit this life”. His tone is accusatory and condemning. Or to ‘up the ante’ he might use words that sound like you said them; these are called fiery darts, e.g. “I can’t believe I did that, “I am so stupid”, “I cant’ pay the rent”, “I am a loser”, “I never seem to keep friends”, “I can’t succeed at anything”. His agenda is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

If you don’t listen to the “yous”, he starts changing his tactics and moves on to the “I’s”. Once he has agreement then he has influence over you. Listen to conviction for sure but tell the condemner to take a hike! Stop him dead in his tracks right now, worship and praise the living God, pray in the Holy Spirit or English. Now is the time for God to do mighty things in your life and break negative cycles of agreement with condemning thoughts and meditate on the word of God for victory (Josh 1:8)!


Pastor-Carl Senior Pastor Carl Joseph desires to see God move in power in the downtown Denver area. He is joined in the ministry by his wife, Amy. In his spare time, he rides his motorcycle and plays golf.



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