Note before you read: This post was written for the Believer – the person who has already surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. Those who have not asked Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin, and have not surrendered their lives to him, are guilty before a Holy God. The wages of sin is death – but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We live in a culture that has confused conviction and guilt. The two have taken an almost identical personification, and in reality, that are two very different things. As I have been reading the book of Job, we have seen that Job’s friends felt like His suffering equaled sin- and so they tried to make Job feel a certain way about things he never did. Today, we are going to look at the difference of conviction versus guilt.
What is Conviction
Conviction, in the Biblical sense, does not come from man. If you are convicted by something you read here on my blog- it isn’t me convicting you. If you tune in to one of my Periscopes, and feel convicted to change your life- it isn’t because of my words.
Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit. Not from people.
I can’t convict you of sin. My words might stir you – but that is from the Holy Spirit. Conviction isn’t something that I can try to invoke on you. It must be done by the Holy Spirit living in you – or, if you are not a believer, coming over you to bring you to the point of repentance.
Conviction always points us to God- to a need of a Savior. Even after salvation, conviction does this. Conviction doesn’t point at self- it always points back to our relationship with God.
Conviction will cause change.
Conviction will cause remorse- for the actual sin – not because we were caught.
Conviction vs Guilt
Guilt is very different. Guilt can be felt almost immediately. Guilt is the feeling that we are worried about being caught. Guilt is when we know that others are going to find out about what we did wrong. Guilt isn’t point others to God – it is always point back at our self. Guilt is often felt by those we are sorry they got caught – the remorse is more of an embarrassment then an actual wanting to change. Guilt is often based on emotion.
Job’s friends had been trying to make Job feel guilty. They kept bringing up possible sin – because they thought this would invoke Job’s emotions. Yet, because there was no sin to be brought to light- Job felt neither guilt nor conviction.
It is often easy for us to get these feelings confused. We don’t live sinless lives. Job didn’t. But we do live forgiven lives.
Often, the world wants to invoke guilt on us when we mess up. When we yell at the kids, when we struggle in our marriage, when we don’t have our quiet time- when the house is a mess. The world – and Satan- brings guilt to our lives.
Yet, God is so much bigger then guilt. God has long suffering toward us, and His mercies are new each morning.
Yes, we should confess sin. Yes, we are going to sin every, single day. Yet we have a great Comforter who lives in us, who also convicts us of sin. Not to make us feel less, or to make us feel shame, but in order to point us back to the cross. In order to make our relationship right again.
If you are struggling today with guilt over what you can’t accomplish, or over things you have done, ask the Lord, Jesus Christ the righteous, to come in and make clear what is conviction from the Holy Spirit and to cast out the lie of guilt.
You are forgiven. You are loved. Don’t walk in guilt and shame one more day.
Check out my other post on the book of Job:
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Worshiping With My Life,