Conviction Or Condemnation?

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Conviction Or Condemnation?
By Nathele Graham

Are you trying to draw closer to God, but you continue to yield to temptations that move you farther away? Do you continue to fail and feel condemned because of your failures? Let me reassure you:

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).

There are times when it seems as if condemnation is heaped upon us. This happens no matter where you sit on Sunday… in a jail cell or in a pew. All sin is forgiven when you accept Christ for salvation. No matter what you’ve done in the past, and no matter what you will do in the future, or even what you are doing today, Jesus’ blood takes all sin away. Sin is a part of human nature, not a good part, but a part nonetheless. The difference between a Christian and someone who has rejected Christ’s free gift of salvation is the Holy Spirit convicts, not condemns, us of our sin. That conviction should draw us closer to God through prayer and study of Scripture in order to seek forgiveness and help us to turn from our sin.

If you’re feeling condemned by your sins, that is not the voice of the Holy Spirit, but condemnation comes from Satan. If you understand about the full armor of God as described in Ephesians chapter 6, you’ll be better equipped to fight spiritual battles.

How can you know you’re hearing the voice of Satan or the Holy Spirit? If you are drawn into Scripture and submit to God’s word, then the Holy Spirit is convicting you. If you are moving farther and farther away from God because you feel you’ve sinned too much for Him to forgive you, that’s the condemnation of Satan.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).

Jesus is our Saviour, not our condemner.

Let’s take a look at a passage in which we see Jesus convicting a woman of her sin but not condemning her. First, we need to understand just how important marriage is in God’s eyes. It isn’t to be taken lightly, and marital relations are only within the covenant of a one man/one woman marriage. Today, many people treat marriage casually and with little respect for its importance. According to the Law of Moses, adultery was a capital offense, and both participants were to be stoned to death. John tells of a morning when Jesus went to the temple, and all the people came to Him to be taught. Unknown to them, they were going to get a real-life lesson in mercy and grace.

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, ‘Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act’” (John 8:3-4).

First lesson: just because someone calls Him Master doesn’t mean they believe in Him as Lord and Saviour. There are many false teachers and false religions that claim to be Christian but don’t teach that Jesus was God incarnate, nor do they honor His word.

The accusers continued, saying, “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not” (John 8:5-6).

Jesus knew these religious leaders weren’t truly seeking His wisdom and really didn’t care what the woman had done or what became of her. They only wanted to trap Jesus. How did Jesus react to their insincere words? He didn’t answer. The Law did make provision for stoning in cases of adultery, but there was more to it than just bringing a woman and accusing her. Both the man and the woman who participated in the act of adultery were to be stoned, not just the woman (Deuteronomy 22:22-24 and Leviticus 20:10). Each one of us is in the same predicament as that woman. We all sin in one way or another and deserve death and condemnation.

In Jesus, there was no condemnation for this woman, but he convicted her accusers. “So when they continued asking him, he lifted himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:7-8).

Jesus didn’t argue with them, nor did He hurl accusations at them or at the woman, but quietly let them see their own sin. What did Jesus write? Much speculation surrounds that question. If the Holy Spirit thought we needed to know, He would have led John to include it in the Gospel. As it is, we know that whatever He had written convicted those men of their own sins that were worthy of stoning. Some believe Jesus wrote various Commandments that the accusers were guilty of committing. Perhaps He wrote Deuteronomy 22:22-24 or Leviticus 20:10. Whatever He wrote, they changed their minds about stoning the woman.

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:9).

Jesus didn’t condemn them, but they were convicted of their own wrongs. If they ultimately repented, they weren’t condemned. If they chose to reject Jesus, they condemned themselves.

The woman who had been brought before Jesus must have been confused, and a bit relieved. She knew that under the Law, she was guilty, but she also must have felt the injustice because she knew the man she was with should have been there with her facing judgment. Maybe she thought, ‘Good, I didn’t get stoned, so now I can get back to my life of prostitution.’ Jesus didn’t leave her in her sin. He didn’t pat her on the head and send her on her way.

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:10-11).

I wonder what happened to her. We can be sure that she wasn’t sinless, but her encounter with Jesus and His forgiveness had to have touched her deeply. I have to believe that she gave up her life of prostitution and adultery. That’s how all of us need to react when we encounter Jesus. Every one of us sins, and even a seemingly small sin is worthy of death.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Thank You, Jesus, for your forgiveness and the gift of salvation.

When we truly ask Jesus to forgive our sin, He does. He forgives all sins we have committed, those we are committing, and the ones we will commit.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

Jesus forgave the woman taken in adultery, and He forgives our sins today, everything from taking the name of the Lord in vain to the worst and most heinous sins you read about in news headlines. You need to see your sin and ask Him to forgive you.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Ask Him to forgive you, then turn away from that sin; “…go, and sin no more (John 8:11b).

Jesus took our sin upon Himself and died in our place when He gave His life on the cross. He won’t condemn you if you tell Him you’ve sinned and you’re sorry.

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus became sin and took our punishment. Now He is our advocate with the Father. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). The word “propitiation” comes from the Greek word “hilasmos,” which means “appeasing.”

Only through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ can sin be appeased. He died on the cross for the entire world, not just for the Jewish people. In order to be forgiven of sin and live forever with Him, you must ask Him to forgive you.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

There is no sin that God won’t forgive. His love is unending. Once you’ve earnestly asked Him for forgiveness and truly accepted His sacrifice for your sin, then you, like the woman taken in adultery, need to “…go, and sin no more” (John 8:11b). With God’s help, you can find the strength to stop the sin in your life, whether it’s adultery, lying, anger, or any other sin you commit. We can be assured of salvation at the moment we truly believe.

“Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Don’t reject His forgiveness. Eternity is a long time to live with that mistake. Your choice must be made before you die.

Jesus will convict you of sin but not condemn you. He will forgive you. Turn to Him now before it’s too late. When you take your final breath in this world, your soul will continue living eternally. It’s your choice where that eternity will be spent. Faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus will bring forgiveness of the sin that separates you from God and allow you to live in Heaven with Him forever. If you reject His free gift and go on thinking you don’t sin and don’t need forgiveness, then you condemn yourself to eternity in the burning lake of fire with Satan and all who have rejected Christ.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham
[email protected]
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All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

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