CONVICTION VS. CONDEMNATION, 13.02.19

Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

The Three-In-One Bible Reference Companion, 1982, Thomas Nelson Publishers

Condemnation and Conviction are two different matters, each achieving a different purpose:

Condemnation is the judicial act of declaring one guilty.

Conviction is making one conscious of his guilt.

(Definitions taken from The Three-In-One Bible Reference Companion, 1982, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.145,150).

While condemnation serves to bring a sentence of punishment upon one, conviction serves as an alert – i.e., something needs to be made right.

Teachings today centre around the age of Grace. The idea is that because Yeshua said “It is finished” (John 19:30) and “You shall know the truth and truth shall set you free,” (John 8:32) there is no further responsibility on the believer’s shoulders; believers just walk away free to do as they please. Scriptures such as these (i.e., the previous quotes) and Romans 8:1 are often isolated, quoted in fragments/partially, and taken out of context.

Rom. 8:1 is commonly quoted to dispel all fears and anxieties regarding individual responsibility and the possibility of being held accountable. Everyone must be guiltless, and free of any condemnation; and the focus on being free of accountability and responsibility is almost obsessive.

To bring some order, and truth to this sad state, let us begin by unpacking the inappropriate quoting of Rom.8:1. Let’s look at the entire set of passages here and flesh out the complete meaning and intent.

Rom.8:1-4, Tree of Life Version:

1“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what was impossible for the Torah—since it was weakened on account of the flesh—God has done. Sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering, He condemned sin in the flesh—

4 so that the requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk

according to the flesh but according to the Ruach.

Romans 8:1-4, NKJV:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Notice, first of all, that I have included two versions, the Tree of Life version and the New King James version. In most versions I have compared, it is the case that, as in the TLV, they have omitted the second half of verse 1 which is included in the KJV/NKJV. However, just as in the TLV, this is equally compensated for in most versions which then include the omitted second half of verse one by including a statement to the same effect in the fourth verse. This second component, “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”  is rather critical since it introduces a stipulation, a condition, if you will – i.e., there is no condemnation, as long as one is actually walking in the Spirit, or applying God’s Word. If you are walking in the Spirit, applying the Word, you are, in fact, fulfilling the Law, just as Yeshua did. The Law was not done away with, folks; it is simply not necessary to focus on “The Law” when our hearts are set to walk in His Ways.

The second important thing to notice is that, although most other versions, with the exception of KJV/NKJV exclude that most important second component, all the other versions which I have compared, do include the same stipulation in verse 4. What is interesting to note, however, is that no one ever quotes verse 4; they only quote verse 1, and never, of course from the KJV/NKJV, conveniently side-stepping the inclusion of a very important stipulation.

So, yes, although it is true that a truly born-again-believer will not be condemned, as in a final judgment of eternal damnation/hellfire sentencing, it does not mean that the individual believer may not be found guilty (see definition quoted above) of a particular wrongdoing, for  “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. . . .  If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8,10). And obviously, God’s Word gives clear instructions on how  to take care of that, for “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), so I am not sure what all the paranoia is about in the first place. Of course, if that condemnation which one has brought themselves under is not made right through confession, repentance, or forgiving, etc., then the door is open to the Enemy, just as we have been learning in our previous STUDY TOPICS (deliverance, ungodly soul ties). Even though we need not fear the loss of salvation in the area of condemnation, there can be curses and/or consequences; and if the matter remains unattended, the believer continues to miss out on true freedom; thus, it is wise to obtain immediate release by following the subscribed steps above to bring oneself into right standing.  

We do need to be sensitive to the conviction (see definition above) of the Holy Spirit, maintaining right standing in our relationship with Him. That is why, as when Peter was preaching to the crowd, he said: “this Yeshua, given over by God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge, nailed to the cross by the hand of lawless men, you killed . . .” (Acts 2:23), and then “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the emissaries, “Fellow brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), because they were convicted, and they needed to be convicted in order to make things right. Thus, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh” (Acts 2:38).

We can see another marvellous example of conviction precipitating in a good outcome in the scene where Yeshua instructed His disciples to go back out and cast their fishing nets again, after having failed to catch any fish. Upon following the Lord’s instructions, a huge catch was made; and “when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Yeshua’s knees, saying, “Go away from me, Master, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had gripped him and all who were with him” (Lk.5:8,9). Was that not a productive form of conviction? Conviction that rips the blinders off bringing amazing REVELATION truly is the best!

One of the most profound conviction stories will always be that of Saul as he made his way on the road to Damascus, purposed to kill believers in Yeshua, when “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are You, Lord?” Saul said.(Acts 9:4,5). Awhile later, after having lost his eyesight, “something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was immersed; and when he had taken food, he was strengthened. Now for several days, he was with the disciples in Damascus. Immediately he began proclaiming Yeshua in the synagogues, saying, “He is Ben-Elohim” (Acts 9:18-20). Without conviction we are lost in darkness. Without conviction we will often overlook sin which will form a barrier between ourselves and our Heavenly Father.

Conviction should be welcomed, rather than avoided. Conviction is the Holy Spirit’s alert to us that we have a matter to attend to. Immediate attendance to the matter alleviates any ongoing guilt, averts condemnation, and enables the believer to maintain right standing before God, avoid unnecessary consequences, which can include bringing curses upon ourselves. But “an undeserved curse does not land” (Prov.26:2); therefore, we need only to avoid giving cause/opening a door. So there is nothing to be gained by trying to avoid, or run away from the convicting tug of the Holy Spirit; in fact, it is much to our advantage to attend to whatever He is showing us, as soon as possible, before any consequences are incurred.

© 2018, re-edited 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.

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