Renee Swope on

Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such great place with God — feeling peaceful, patient, and kind – and all of a sudden something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!

The other day I was working from home. Alone. The house was quiet, and I was feeling all kinds of productive. That afternoon marked the final stretch of a big project, and I was so looking forward to a family dinner and game night. Life was peachy.

Then my kids got home from Grandma’s, and one of them did something that was not-so-peachy!

A few minutes later, another one did not do something I asked him to do.

And I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.

Later that night, the soundtrack of my words replayed in my head as guilt tried to convince me I had permanently damaged my kids’ emotional well-being. Then shame shook its finger in my face and told me I was the worst mom on earth.

I was about to agree with both of them when I remembered something a pastor once taught about the difference between conviction and condemnation.

He explained that condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements: You’re such a failure. You’re so hypocritical. You can never be counted on!

That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning, and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit’s conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude along with instruction on what needs to be done to right our wrong, whether it’s restoring a relationship or returning something that isn’t ours. The Holy Spirit will give us the steps we need to take to change our attitude or behavior.

Instead of an accusing lie: “You’re such a failure!” the Holy Spirit might say, “You were really critical the way you talked to So-and-so. You need to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then say something to build them up instead of tearing them down.”

Instead of a condemning label: “You’re so hypocritical!” The Holy Spirit might say, “You judge others for gossiping, but you’re doing the same thing when you talk about your neighbor at work. Apologize for what you said today, and share a few things that are positive about her.”

Instead of shaming words: “You can never be counted on!” The Holy Spirit might say, “You didn’t keep your promise to go visit your mom. Call her to say you’re sorry, and ask her out to lunch this weekend.” *

Satan condemns us to make us feel guilty, but God convicts us to lead our hearts to repentance.

God uses conviction to draw us out of destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with Him and others, and to lead us away from a condemning place of sin so that we can live in the freedom of His forgiveness and grace.

So the next time we blow it, or lose our peace and patience right there in the middle of our kitchen, or office, or 5 o’clock traffic, let’s ask God to help us refute the accusing lies of condemnation and follow His lead toward restoration.

by Renee Swope
*From 60-Days To Stop Doubting Yourself: A Confident Heart Devotional, p. 139-140.

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  • Anna

    Renee, your words always bless. Thank you. I’ve been discovering that it’s fear that stops me from following my convictions, fear of anger. I have that voice of condemnation SO often during my day and it actually also makes me feel guilty about doing and saying the right thing for fear of making others angry. It says things like: “You’re being unfair. You’re being too strict. It’s not kind. Keep your mouth shut. Be nice. Be good.” and so I’ll often keep my mouth shut or I’ll pander to please, rather than admitting my own faults or setting boundaries with those who hurt or take advantage of me.

    • Renee Swope

      Oh. That is a great insight Anna. I can see myself doing that too. Praying for us both, for wisdom and discernment to help our hearts follow God’s lead in taking the next step, instead of shrinking back in fear. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!

    • Diana Fleenor

      Anna, I agree with Renee…your words display a great insight with your confession of fear of others anger. I will join you and Renee in prayer for each of us who confess this struggle with “fear of making others angry”. Yes, Renee, praying for wisdom and discernment for us, too.

  • Suzi Snell

    Wow! This really helps me understand the difference. I really needed that. I hear these words in my head all the time and sometimes get confused…. But God gives direction, and that makes all the difference. Thanks Renee!

    • Renee Swope

      So glad today’s post brought clarity for you too Suzi. For so many years I didnt know the difference between conviction and condemnation and these truths really set me free! I love how Jesus leads us with His compassion, grace and truth.

    • Diana Fleenor

      Suzi, I can relate to getting confused by the accusations. Thanking God with you for seeing that He is not the author of confusion but gives us clear direction. Lifting you up with the others here in prayer.

  • Marilyn

    wow… I have felt and feel like that so many times. I am always asking God, why did you choose me as their mom? Thank you for clarifying and setting a distinction between these. I feel very grateful for people who share their stories, so that others don’t feel alone.

    • Renee Swope

      Marilyn, I am so glad to hear that today’s post reminds you that you’re not alone. We all blow it as mamas and need God’s grace again and again. I’m praying today’s encouragement and clarifying truths will stay close by your side today and rooted in your heart today. :)

      • Marilyn

        Thank you!

    • Diana Fleenor

      Marilyn, you are not alone in the battle. Even as a mom of an adult child those accusations can still fly…usually to do with the “what ifs”. Thanks for sharing your heart so we can fight in the battle together. Praying for all of us with thanksgiving for this encouragement today.

      • Marilyn

        Thank you!!!

  • Diana Fleenor

    Renee, I remember when I first was becoming aware of the concepts of conviction and condemnation, it was often said to me, “The enemy condemns, but the Holy Spirit convicts”. However, I don’t recall ever hearing such a clear explanation of the difference in practical examples. I thank the Lord for the insight he gave the pastor who taught you and then you writing here with likely more application from a woman’s perspective. I can so relate to each of the accusations and take heart with the conviction + instruction examples you gave. What a blessing to read this today!

    • Renee Swope

      Thank you for your sweet encouragement Diana. I am so glad it helped you too. I think I needed today’s post as much as anyone. My heart always needs reminding. :)

  • Priscilla

    Thank you so much for helping me understand conviction and condemnation.

    • Renee Swope

      You are so welcome. I needed this reminder too. :)

  • Amy

    Renee, thank you so much for this reminder. I seem to always be finding myself in that “kitchen moment” and then feel the weight of guilt so heavy on my soul. Thank you for the gentle reminder that our Creator does not condem us and shake his finger in our faces. His spirit is that gentle nudge to stop and be still and let Him redeem the “kitchen moments”. The words “I’m sorry” are not used often anymore and what a wonderful reminder that our children/loved ones need to hear this. He can use those “kitchen moments” to be teachable moments. Thanks again for your words of wisdom today. My heart really needed it!

    • Renee Swope

      Amen. The gift of an apology is missing today and yet such a beautiful powerful act that ushers our hearts into humility where God’s grace can then come and restore us to Him and to the one we hurt with our words. Lord, help us remember this today and every day.

  • Kim

    My fears have a lot to do with being a single mom and my oldest going off to a different state for college. I have a fear of lack of money and of being alone the rest of my life. I am afraid nobody will ever be interested in me again

    • Renee Swope

      Fear not, Kim, for He has redeemed YOU. He has called you by name. You are HIS!! Praying these words for you this morning.

  • Susan G.

    The truth here is ‘conviction’ not ‘condemnation’. When God convicts of something, we are called to repentance and He quickly forgives! Condemnation comes from the ‘enemy of our souls’, and we should be quick to identify the enemy. It is hard to forget sometimes, as I know… Almost 35 years ago I can still hear myself going off on my young daughter… She doesn’t have a clue today that that even happened..but sometimes the enemy tries to bring it up. And all I need to say is “get thee behind me satan!” I’m under the blood, loved and forgiven by my great God.
    May you do the same! :)
    Thank you for this! None of us is perfect – just Jesus!

    • Renee Swope

      Praying for grace upon grace for us all. He who started this work in us promises to complete it as we rely on Him!!

  • Jennifer Vore

    I just have such a hard time controlling my emotions in conversations that overwhelm me and I am often apologizing again and again. The Holy Spirit convicts me to go back and seek forgiveness and try again. It’s hard!

    • Renee Swope

      It takes time, Jennifer, but I promise you that with God’s help and a reliance on His spirit in you, change is possible. I’ve still got a ways to go but boy have I seen God do a miraculous work in my life (and my mouth) by helping me be slow(er) to speak, quick(er) to listen and slow(er) to become angry/frustrated/critical. In the slowing, I”m learning to let Him harness my emotions and reactions. Praying for you to see that change I know your heart desires — over time. Be patient with yourself and give that heart of yours lots of grace. :)

  • Karen Layton

    Thank you for your thoughts. I need to apologize to my brother. I was so angry that he went forward without me to speak with our sister. I am worried about her, my nephew who is a heroine addict of very recent date and her inability to make the tough choices. I am in the wrong and my way is not the only way. You helped me see that.

  • C. Glover

    Renee, I read this yesterday and it hit home with me. I too hear the other one accuse me of being a terrible mom, sister, daughter and friend. After I read it I felt compelled to leave my browser tab open to save ànd reread again later. This morning something happened with my teen daughter and a lie she told ended up causing her to be stranded alone somewhere with no way home. I got a panicked text about how sorry she was an what a bad person she was for lying. I borrowed a car to go get her and showed her this blog once we were home. She shouldn’t have lied yes, but she’s not a terrible kid. She now sees it was the other one telling her how horrible she is but also the Spirit leading her out of the situation by telling me and repenting. This helped her immensely. She suffers from deep depression and this clarification kept a pothole from becoming a sinkhole! Thank you.

    • Renee Swope

      Wow. I just love how God works. Thank you so much for sharing how God used Friday’s post to help you personally, and to walk your daughter out of condemnation and into a place of grace-filled, heart re-directing conviction. Reading your comment blessed me so much!! :)

  • Beth Williams

    Thank you for such wise words. For years I heard and believed the condemnation of the evil one. “You’re not smart”, “Can’t do anything right”, “Stupid”, Etc. I would recite them crying myself to sleep. I’ve also had convictions from Holy Spirit. “You blew it today–try to do better tomorrow”. I believe the Holy Spirit and pray about my missteps knowing full well that God will forgive me for being human!
    Blessings :)

    • Renee Swope

      He’s so gracious. So slow to become angry and quick to forgive. If only we could love ourselves the way He loves us!

  • Kathleen Lacey Lewis Bennefiel

    Thank you Renee! I needed this to help me understand the difference! So hard sometimes to tell the difference between those ‘voices in my head’!! But this make so much sense….been trying to listen to that ‘still, small voice’ more often.

    • Renee Swope

      Yes it is! Praying for your heart to recognize the difference and help you discern God’s voice over the accuser.

  • brokenwallscrushedsidewalks.or

    Oh how I beat myself up when I “lose it” with my kids or my husband. Satan loves to use those moments of humanness to keep us defeated. God reminds us that when I was yet a sinner He died for me which gives me the strength and courage to do whatever it is that I need to do to make it “right.” I loved how you were able to communicate the difference between condemnation and conviction. Thank you

    • Renee Swope

      Amen. So grateful this post encouraged your heart!!

  • Kristi

    Thank you for reminding me of these differences. Sometimes it’s so hard to hear God’s truth when the barrage of condemning lies are shouting so loudly– thanks for a few tips in how to step back and get some perspective.