The enemy is very crafty and will try to use something intended to glorify God to make you feel bad about yourself. A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do something that would seriously help a singe mother. I kind of wanted to help but it was going to be an inconvenience for my family. The enemy swooped right in before I made a decision of whether or not to help and made me feel horrible about not wanting to help a single mother. “How could you not, you’ve been a single mother before?” the enemy taunted. “You are so mean and selfish!” he screamed. “You never want to help anyone unless it fits into your schedule,” he went on and on. Satan was condemning me and he was using things that I have heard from my family in the past to make me feel like I was a horrible Christian.
Satan had me feeling so bad about myself that I had to pray. I prayed because I know that I’m not a bad person and that I had not even made up my mind not to help, I was just thinking about the implications of helping and how my family fit into the picture. While I was praying, the Holy Spirit said, “Let us not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9a NIV). I was convicted by the Holy Spirit, and I knew that I was being called to help this young lady, so that is just what I did. And wouldn’t you know it, the inconvenience to my family was so minimal that I cannot even call it an inconvenience.
Satan will always use your past to condemn you, but “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). Yes, in the past I was a little selfish, I liked things to operate on my schedule. But now that I’m following Christ Jesus more closely, I realize when someone has a need, it isn’t going to always fit into my free time.
So how do you turn condemnation into conviction? You need to recognize when you are being condemned. When those thoughts come into your head, ask yourself if these thoughts line up with the Word of God. God wants us to use Philippians 4:8as our model for thoughts:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (NKJV)
This passage does not tell you to think of your negative past, but of praiseworthy things. It doesn’t say put yourself down, it tells us to think of noble things. It doesn’t say think of your unfavorable characteristics, but to think of your lovely characteristics. God uses things that are “just” and “virtuous” to convict us at times; but never to make us feel bad, only to glorify Him.
2 Corinthians 2:16b says, “But we have the mind of Christ.”I know that it doesn’t always seem that way, especially when Satan attacks our minds with condemnation. When this happens we have to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).
Also keep in mind that turning condemnation to conviction does not mean that God will tell you to do the thing that Satan is condemning you about. Whatever God convicts you of will always line up with His Word.
Satan may try to pull a fast one on you. For instance, if some friends invite you out for drinks but you don’t drink anymore because you tend to drink too much, Satan may try to convince you to go out and drink through condemnation. He’ll say things like, “Oh now you think you are too good to hang out with old friends”. “Now that you’re a Christian you can’t have any fun anymore, you are boring!” “You’ll never win your friends over to Christ if you don’t spend time with them”. Yes, the enemy will try to condemn you using Jesus as the reason you should do something. But when you ask God for help, He will come back with Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit”. Or Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
Conviction is a good thing that believers receive from God as a form of discipline, correction, encouragement, and love. When you are convicted view it as the love of your Father.
In addition to prayer, meditate on these verses to turn any condemnation into conviction:
2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Corinthians 2:16
2 Corinthians 10:5
May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.