Conviction versus condemnation (and how to tell the difference)

I’m awful. I’m a lousy sinner. I deserve what is happening to me right now because of what I’ve done…..

Does any of that sound familiar?

Do you ever struggle with being able to identify God’s voice over the enemy’s lies—or even over that of your own thoughts and self-condemnations?

Recently, God has been convicting me of some sin that’s been buried deep in my heart for awhile now—sin that has gone undetected for a long, long time. While I’ve been living my life in blissful ignorance, the enemy has been crafting land mine’s of sin. Expertly placing them in my heart and mind, just waiting for me to eventually stumble across them and send shrapnel flying. Sins such as complacency, pride, envy, and self-sufficiency.

Having your sin brought to your awareness is not a fun prospect, and yet in this season of conviction something (other than my sin) really stood out to me. And that is that:

God is kind when He convicts.

God's conviction is kind

Which made me think:

How often have I attributed the enemy’s lies and condemnation to God?

How many times I have misinterpreted satan’s taunts for God’s truth?

As I was driving home one day last week, a faint whisper of a word floated through my heart. It was the word complacency. I found myself pondering the word and its source. For it’s not a word I use that much, nor something that comes up often in my self-talk. I mulled the word over during my drive, fighting the urge to ask Siri for its definition (I mean I functioned before she existed, surely I can find a definition on my own, right?! wrong…I couldn’t find a dictionary so, I googled complacency.)

Complacency: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing condition.

Ouch! Can I get another definition for a 100 please Alex???

Yet, I still wasn’t sure why the word, and now painful definition of complacency, was floating around my head.

I opened my Bible and began my time of study and prayer. God, show me what you want me to see, I asked, turning to place where I left off in Jeremiah.

“‘Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,’ declares the Lord.”

Pretense. Hmm…

Later that day I was preparing a lesson from 1 Peter when this verse (1:22) jumped out at me,

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

Deeply. Hmm…

Throughout that entire day those words and verses floated through my mind like dandelions seeds caught in a gust of wind.

dandelion-sky-flower-nature-39669

And then, late that night cloaked in quiet darkness I felt all the words come together in a gentle warning:

You have become complacent in your marriage. You are two ships passing in the night—two captains on autopilot, drifting further and further from each other. You have the pretense of lovingkindness for each other, but there is no depth. Look deeper, search deeper, love deeper.

And with that, my heart was instantly alerted to a hidden land mine of complacency.

Over the next few days other land mines would be unearthed.

And yet always with gentleness. Always with kindness. Never with condemnation.

Now, I have laid (or is it lain?) in bed many nights hearing taunts and accusations of condemnation: You are such a phony. You are such a hypocrite. You’re selfish. Insignificant. Unable. You aren’t good enough. Your not ready to serve God. Who do you think you are?!?

And I am sad to say that I have believed that voice far too many times. And worse, I have assigned those taunts to God’s voice.

When they most clearly are NOT!!

For the truth is—

  • God convicts, He does not condemn (John 16:8, Romans 8:1)
  • God whispers truth, the enemy shouts taunts (1 Kings 19:12, Matthew 4:1-11)
  • God alerts to sin, the enemy hurls accusations  (1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:10)
  • God seeks to build up, satan desires tears down (1 Peter 2:5, John 10:10)

And so today I rejoice in my conviction. For my God loves me enough to alert me to land mines of sin—and He loves my marriage enough to gently lift my head from its cradle of complacency.

Conviction is not fun, but our God is most gentle with His children, and He is for us so we need not fear.

God is most gentle with us

Today, I am praying that all His children will be sensitive to His conviction. And I’m also praying that when the enemy begins to condemn and taunt we would be able to boldly tell him that he can go to straight to his eternal home! 😉

Much love,
Jen
JB-7 (1) 2

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