When I think of the Holy Spirit visually, I think of bumper rails on a bowling alley. Whenever the ball starts to roll off track, the rails bump it back into place to make sure it stays on course and aiming for its target. As we go through life, the Holy Spirit consciously keeps us on track with conviction. Conviction’s purpose, in the same way, serves as an indicator that we’re headed in the wrong direction and God is warning us to get back on track!
Sometimes I think we get conviction confused with condemnation. God convicts, the enemy condemns.
Conviction is an alert to our spirit that makes us aware of ourselves and warns us we’re off and headed toward the traps of sin. It’s a warning. Condemnation, on the other hand, pulls you into your guilt and tells you you’re stuck in your sin. It’s good to be aware of the root of your thoughts when you stumble…because it happens to the best of us. The enemy will say condemning things like “There you go again. You might as well stop trying. You’re too far gone. You might as well stop praying. You’re going to hell. God’s turned His back on you. He can’t use you anymore. This Christian walk just isn’t for you. Look, you messed up AGAIN.”
But the Bible says:
Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand (Psalm 37:24)
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again (Proverbs 24:16).
You see, there’s a difference between accepting living a lifestyle of sin and struggling with sin. Struggling, for one, is a good sign that you’re fighting against it. And God recognizes that we’re human and won’t get it right all the time. In fact, He has already taken full account of and knows the mistakes we’re already going to make in the past, present and future, and STILL has chosen to use you in spite of this. If God only used perfect people, His work would never get done! Now this grace isn’t a license to continue sinning (Romans 6). Its whole purpose is to give us the freedom and clear conscience to start again with a clean slate full of purpose. It’s the enemy who brings guilt and condemnation, but it’s Christ who encourages the freedom to keep going.
So what’s the difference for the believer?
It’s that although we stumble, we get back up.
That’s what God wants. God is not against us, but is WITH us against our sin. No matter what you’ve done, what you’ve thought or how far gone you think you are, He doesn’t want us to stay down in condemnation. He wants us to get back in the Word, get back in prayer, keep going for the prize! He’s not holding you to your mistakes. Grace means that all of your mistakes have now been turned around to serve a purpose instead of serving shame. He wants you to draw to Him and keep going. He delights in you and who He’s created you to become. He still has a giant purpose for you. He is rooting for you!
Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
John 3:18: Whoever believes in him is NOT condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
John 8:11: And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 3:17: For God did NOT send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works….