There’s a lot of power in understanding the difference between conviction v.s. guilt; and knowing the difference will save a lot of heartache from sitting in poor choices and past mistakes.
I mean, wouldn’t life be far more peaceful if we weren’t living in the shame of past mistakes and bad choices?
But since guilt and conviction feel very similar, it’s tough to know which one we’re feeling.
And until we understand the difference, we’re doomed to live in the pit of hopelessness and despair.
Although, the lies and guilt will still get into our heads, understanding the difference between the two, will prevent those lies from ever finding their way into our hearts.
[Scroll to the bottom for the video, The Truth About Conviction v.s. Guilt You Need to Know]
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Conviction vs Guilt
Since conviction and guilt feel so much alike, let’s dive in and look at the differences between the two.
|Guilt (Shame & Condemnation)|
|Come straight from the enemy|
|Point at you|
|Bring a feeling of hopelessness|
|Doesn’t offer correction or a way out|
|Comes through the Holy Spirit|
|Points to an action or mindset|
|Offers correction and a way out|
He’s been a murderer right from the start! He never stood with the truth, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue. He is a master of deception and the father of lies! John 8:44 TPT
Guilt involves our feelings, and the truth of the matter is, feelings aren’t facts! But it can sure feel like it at times!
Because conviction and guilt feel so similar, Satan uses that knowledge to sabotage us — creating self-doubt, self-loathing and uncertainty.
With little effort, Satan makes us believe that we have to sit in the shame of what we’ve done, often times, making us feel as if we owe it to God to never move on.
The enemy gets into the broken crevices and tells us there’s no way God could ever love us after the choices we’ve made.
I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Romans 7:21-24
Since Satan is so crafty at planting these lies in our heads, we need godly wisdom to understand where these thoughts are coming from.
And when we understand the difference between conviction v.s. guilt, it completely takes away the power Satan has over us. (Now that’s something to celebrate!)
Conviction is defined as the feeling of being convinced of a wrong doing or a sin.
Because Satan is so good at what he does, we’ve been led to believe that conviction isn’t good, but thankfully, that couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Conviction is a good thing. In fact, it’s the first step to forgiving ourselves.
When we intentionally choose to walk closer to God, He will give us the direction and correction we need. He will convict us, but He will never use guilt to do it!
Romans 7:25- 8:2 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
HOW Satan useS guilt
The #1 goal of the enemy is to make us feel alone, hopeless and worthless.
You see, Satan knows just how powerful God is (and how powerful we are with God beside us), so he’ll use every possible tactic to bring us down and separate us from God.
“Satan generates a blanketing, choking sense of general guilt, as though everything is wrong and there’s no one action you can really take to overcome. Often a sense of complete hopelessness and weakness prevails. The enemy attacks you in general. You can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. You feel helpless and hopeless focusing on half-truths.” Marriage Missions International
Guilt and condemnation are tactics used to make you feel that it’s too late for you to be made right with God.
Satan wants you to believe you aren’t a good person. (And my oh my, he is good at deception!)
How does the Holy Spirit use conviction
How does the Holy Spirit use conviction?
In short, to get our attention.
The Spirit uses conviction to help us draw closer to God, to lean into Him and ask for forgiveness, so that we are free to carry out our ultimate calling; so we’re free to enjoy this life He created us for!
He uses conviction to shape and mold us into righteous living, and to be a blessing to others.
But I’m happy now, not because I made you uncomfortable, but because the distress I caused you has led you to change the way you think and act. You were distressed in a godly way, so we haven’t done you any harm. In fact, to be distressed in a godly way causes people to change the way they think and act and leads them to be saved. No one can regret that. But the distress that the world causes brings only death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 GW
the damage caused by living in guilt and shame
I probably don’t have to tell you the damage guilt and shame can cause. And when we start down that slippery slope, it isn’t long before we’re consumed by our pain.
All too often, we’re left feeling alone and certain there’s no way out.
Guilt affects our mental health as well as our physical health. It leaves us feeling worthless — that we’re no good to anyone.
When we’ve fallen into that pit of self-loathing and shame, we think there’s no longer a reason to keep fighting. We’re left to believe that nothing can, or will, ever change.
Praise God it isn’t true!When we're sitting in shame and guilt, we feel alone, hopeless and as though we're doomed to live the rest of our life in pain.
HOW DO conviction & guilt feeL
So how do you know if what you’re feeling is conviction or guilt?
The best way to know, is to ask yourself, “Which way am I facing?”
If you feel drawn to God, then you know this is the urging and prompting from The Spirit.
If, however, you find yourself turning away from God and putting up a wall to hide your shame, then what your feeling is guilt.
God will never shame you!
So the next time you’re faced with feelings that are holding you down, ask yourself, “is this conviction from the Holy Spirit, or is it guilt from the enemy?“
And then check yourself against the chart below.
|It’s guilt if you’re thinking…|
|I’ll never measure up.|
|I’ve lost all hope.|
|It’s conviction if you’re thinking…|
|I messed up, but God forgives.||.|
|God still loves me.|
|I’m still worthy in God’s eyes.|
|I am more than enough for God.|
|I am hopeful.|
Condemnation declares, “you’re wrong, you’re bad, you’re evil,” while conviction tells you without any resentment, “it wasn’t good what you did, next time you can take a better way”. Vytautas Ratkevičius-Vytas, Koinonia
How to AVOID guilt and walk with conviction
The next time you feel yourself spiraling down that slippery slope of guilt and shame, there’re several things you can do.
- Get into The Word
You can learn so much from the Bible. It’s full of beautiful examples of how to forgive yourself. It’s also full of God’s truths which you can use to combat the lies — the half-truths — that Satan feeds you.
Never underestimate the power of prayer.
The Bible tells us that God is with us at all times, however, He doesn’t force Himself into our life. We have to pursue Him, and make that ask!
Ask for discernment and godly wisdom to recognize guilt and shame. Ask Him to help you see what’s coming from Him and what isn’t.
This will free you from the suffocating feelings of shame, guilt and unforgiveness. (And I mean, come on! Who doesn’t want out of that mess?)
- Reach out to fellow prayer warriors.
The Bible also tells us that when we join together in prayer, He will answer, so ask a friend to stand in prayer with you.
Again, I give you an eternal truth: If two of you agree to ask God for something in a symphony of prayer, my heavenly Father will do it for you. For wherever two or three come together in honor of my name, I am right there with them!” Matthew 18:20 TPT
Conviction v.s. Shame Wrap Up
Having the ability to know the difference between guilt and conviction will give you the power to forgive yourself and finally start walking in freedom.
It’ll make the difference between sitting in a pit of despair or picking yourself up, leaning into God and enjoying this life God created for you.
And I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I’ll choose a peace-filled life over a hopeless one all day long1
Friend, if you’re living with guilt and shame, you’re not alone. We have all fallen prey to Satan and His lies at one time or another.
It doesn’t make you weak, and you’re not a bad Christian! It means you’re living in this fallen world where Satan is fighting like crazy to keep you down.
But now that you understand where it’s coming from, you can stand strong and say, “This is not coming from God, so get behind me Satan because you’re no match for Him!” (Seriously, do it! I actually say these words out loud often!)
You no longer have to sit in the pain of your past mistakes.
Today, lean into Him. Ask for forgiveness, and stop living in the guilt and shame of what you’ve done.
Just like Jesus said on the cross, it is finished!
You’re no longer bound by your past! So go out and live in the freedom of God’s forgiveness today!
Until next time, my friend…
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