The Difference Between Conviction and Condemnation | Ashley Varner

The Difference Between Conviction and Condemnation

While we strive to live in the grace of God, there will be many MANY times when we fall short. When we sin, we can feel two things: conviction or condemnation. Those two feelings come from two very different places.
Knowing the difference between godly conviction and the devil’s condemnation is a vital part of growing in Christ and taking our thoughts captive.

Resources Mentioned:

Power of Prayer Workbook:
The Mindset Reset:

Highlights From The Episode:

While we all strive to live in the grace of God, there are going to be many many times whenever we fall short. And in those times that we sin, there are two different feelings that seem to come up, and I know that they come from two very different places. And so all of this month we’ve been talking about taking our thoughts captive, and I really wanted to talk to you today about the difference between God’s conviction and the enemy’s condemnation. So let’s jump in.

Hey there, and welcome back to “Renewed Mind.” I am your host, Ashley Varner, I am so thankful that you are here. If you haven’t yet make sure to subscribe to this channel so that I know the kind of content that you want to hear. And so that YouTube knows that Christian teaching is something that you want more of. Now, I wanted to talk to you today about knowing the difference between God’s conviction and the enemy’s condemnation.

This is a vital part of knowing who you are in Christ and growing in him and taking your thoughts captive. So if you’re new to the channel, I usually take a month of one big topic, and then I break it down each week. And we really just dive into that topic throughout each of the videos that month. And I have talked about having negative emotions, we’ve talked about time management, and all of this month we’re talking about taking your thoughts captive.

Now, this is kind of a broad term, and so I really have wanted to dig deep and really dive deep into all of the nuts and bolts of what it means to take your thoughts captive. And knowing the difference between condemnation and conviction is going to be a vital part of your growth in your spiritual walk.

Condemnation vs Conviction

So there, I just wanted to give some ways that you can decipher what you are experiencing, whether it’s the devil’s condemnation or God’s conviction. So I want you first to remember that we all fall short. There are always going to be times whenever you aren’t measuring up, always all of us, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a Christian, whether you’re a pastor or a missionary or a stay-at-home mom or whatever, you are going to fall short.

And so in those times, it is so important that we respond in a godly manner and really start to take our thoughts captive. So there are two main feelings that you can have whenever you are experiencing maybe a shortfall or you’re in sin. And I wanted to really show you the difference. So let’s first talk about condemnation.


Now condemnation comes from the enemy. God does not condemn you, but the enemy will do his best to do that. And the Bible says in Romans 8:1, that “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So if you are experiencing this kind of condemnation, I want you to know it is not from God. So what is condemnation? Well, the enemy’s condemnation is typically very general in nature. So what I mean by that is, it’s a very general thought that you have, it’s a very general temptation, and it causes you to run from God and from His plan.

So it’s really important to remember that condemnation is going to tell you that you have failed miserably, there’s no way to come back from it, and that there’s no way God could use you after having this problem or this sin in your life. And the enemy is always going to try and convince you that your shortcomings are going to disqualify you from doing anything else for God. And it’s almost like an arm extended to slap you in the face, right? That is condemnation.


Now conviction, on the other hand, is a tool that God uses to bring His people back. So God does not approve of sin and the shortfalls that we have in our lives, but he gently uses conviction to bring us back to Him.

Conviction is from God. And one way that you can tell the difference is, is the conviction that you’re feeling very specific? If it’s general, remember it’s usually from the enemy, but if it is specific, then you know that it’s from the Lord. And really God’s conviction is always, always, always going to cause reconciliation with Him.

It’s never going to be something that pushes you away from Him or separates you from Him. So if you have conviction in your life from the Holy Spirit or from God, it’s always going to be something that is going to bring you back to Him.


So I know that those can kind of be confusing to think about, so I wanted to give a couple of examples. And the first is, say that you had a bad day and it’s starting to get to be bedtime and you are really impatient with your kids and you yelled at them.

Now, condemnation from the enemy is going to sound kind of like this. “You really messed up, what kind of mother are you? How can you go and teach a Sunday school class at church then you come home and yell at your kids? Don’t you know that they’re a gift from God? How could you be so careless?” These are the kind of thoughts that come up that are very general in nature.

And if you can notice it also almost makes you feel disqualified from doing anything in the future for God. So it makes you might think these kinds of thoughts and they start to lead to shame. Disappointment in yourself, but also cause you to move away from the things that God wants you to do. Having thoughts like that does not want. Like the first inclination in your mind whenever you have thoughts like that is not to go and pray.

Now in start contrast the Lord’s conviction is gonna sound something like, “You’re my child, I want you to come to me, tell me how you’re feeling, tell me about your difficult day, give me your burdens.” So those kinds of things might, that conviction might come across in this particular example for the Lord to say something into your heart, like, “I know you wanna be patient with your children, I know that you feel like you’ve messed up, take my yoke upon you, I love you. My yoke is easy, my burden is light. Seek me in my ways, and I’m gonna help you to be patient.”

See how there’s still that correction, there’s still that the mention of just the conviction that’s there from the shortfall that you had, but there’s always that drawback to the Lord. And that is the difference.

God is a God of Reconciliation

So we are so blessed to serve a God who is a God of reconciliation. And he’s always going to seek reconciliation with you. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.”

What a loving verse to say that God came, He sent Jesus to reconcile the world to himself. And really this even says like he’s not holding our sins against us. Whenever we go to him. When we repent of our sins. He is ready and willing to take us back to reconcile us to Himself.

So we just take the step to be aware of the thoughts that are going through our minds and we’re taking those thoughts captive. Whenever you do experience the condemnation of the enemy, it is so important to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

So as you’re taking these thoughts captive and you’re saying, no, I’m not going to believe the lie that because I messed up here I’m no longer useful to the kingdom of God. I refuse to believe the lie that God is not going to forgive me, I refuse to believe this condemnation, and instead, we have to be willing to accept the conviction of God as well.

Sometimes we have the conviction of God and we ignore it. So we know that we’ve done something wrong, and maybe we’ve put ourselves on a high pedestal, or we think that this conviction is from the enemy and we need to just keep going the way that we’re going, and we’re not open and softhearted to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And whenever you’re not, you can expect for that conviction to come less and less.

I remember hearing a pastor who had actually shared on social media. He was speaking out against a particular TV show. I had never seen the show, but after I saw this post I went and just looked at some of the reviews. I think I went to plugged in online, it’s a movie review service by “Focus on the Family.” This was definitely not a show that any Christian had any business watching.

And he spoke out about this on social media. There were several comments saying, well I don’t feel convicted watching this. His response to that, and I think it was a very wise and biblical response was, “When your heart is hardened, you stop hearing the conviction of the Holy Spirit.”

So just because you can go through a couple of days and you are maybe not acting the way that you should. And you don’t feel that conviction it could be that you have hardened your heart to God’s conviction in the first place.

So I’m not trying to judge you, I’m not trying to be harsh in this. but I do think that as Christians we have to come to the place where we say, I understand that I will mess up, and I don’t ever wanna be in the place where I have hardened my heart to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Because I guarantee you, whenever you are messing up, and it’s something continual that the enemy wants you to keep doing, he wants you to keep watching that TV show, he wants you to keep listening to that podcast, or whatever it is that you know is not right. Then that condemnation isn’t gonna be there, right?

It’s not gonna be there because he wants you to continue in that behavior. So if you’re feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, it’s really important to be aware of that and go to Him to reconcile yourself to Him. And that takes humility, it takes just being in a place of repentance and saying, “I know that I mess up on a regular basis. I know that I need God’s help, and so I’m willing to go to Him, I’m willing to take that step and really go to the Lord instead of running away from Him.”

Remember how I described the enemy’s condemnation is like a slap in the face. I want you to start seeing God’s conviction as his arm extended to bring us back to Him. So it is always God’s goal in our lives to make us more and more into likeness of His son. It’s for us to mature in our faith. And really whenever we, now that we’re diving deep into taking our thoughts captive, that’s what it boils down to.

I shared this in a couple of episodes that it ends up becoming maturity in your faith. That’s how it shows up. Because you’re starting to see the difference between this condemnation and God’s conviction. You’re starting to see the difference between having a heart hardened against God’s correction, and being still that soft repentant heart. Knowing that you can’t do anything without the Lord, you’re thankful for that because you know that He’s there with you.

So I hope that you enjoyed this episode, it’s a little bit different, it’s a little bit more spiritually deep. But I want you to know that as God’s child you have the ability to take your thoughts captive. As you do that, whenever you start investing in that skill of taking your thoughts captive, you are going to mature in your walk with Christ. There is probably gonna be less drama. There’s probably gonna be less of that kind of that self-seeking behavior that we have all come accustomed to. But at the end of the day, you’re gonna be more like Jesus.

So I hope that you enjoyed this, and I will see you guys next week. Make sure to subscribe because next week we’re gonna be talking all about how to overcome feelings of self-doubt. And this is gonna be a great episode, I don’t want you to miss it. Make sure that you hit subscribe. Hit the notification bell so that you are notified whenever that video comes out.

Make sure to check out the free resources that I have. I have a “Power of Prayer Workbook” that teaches you how to become a prayer warrior. I’ll leave a link in the description for you guys.

Power of Prayer Workbook:

And then also you can check out the “Six Week Mindset Reset” that really helps you to take your thoughts captive. There’s gonna be worksheets in there, there are audio and video lessons so that you can take these nuggets of wisdom that I share on a weekly basis and really dive deep and apply it to your own life.

The Mindset Reset:

All right, that’s it for this week, I’ll see you guys next time.

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- Ashley Varner

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