Wednesday, May 30, 2012


2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Many Christians put too much emphasis on the way things make them feel. If something feels good, if they have “peace” about it - then they think it must be God. The flip side is, if something makes them feel bad, if they’re being challenged to repent and change, they believe that’s legalism and condemnation. They get this idea that they should never feel uncomfortable in church. I challenge you to read what Paul says to the Corinthian church in his first letter. He was very direct and confrontational - demanding that they wake up and deal with the blatant sin in their fellowship. As he wrote and confronted them about their behaviour - he pulled no punches. Twice he wrote, “I speak this to your shame,” as he described some of the things they were doing. “That’s not love, brother!”

Remember, Paul wrote this to Christians!  If the Corinthian church had been full of today’s believers, it would have emptied out when their preacher read, “at your next service, when you’ve all gathered together - turn that immoral man over to Satan!” How would your church respond if a preacher wrote to warn about sin before he showed up? Paul did that in 1 Corinthians 4:21. What do you think would happen in the American church if a pastor began pointing out people in the church that he didn’t want you to hang out with or even eat with? Paul did that too in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11.

Now, I’m not saying that preachers have the right to be cruel or mean-spirited to their people. However, I want you to realize that there are times when a very loving message can sound aggressive. Paul wasn’t being arrogant when he confronted the Corinthians with their sin - he was trying help them! Just because you felt bad when your pastor started dealing with sin, doesn’t mean he’s preaching legalism!

You see, there’s a difference between conviction and condemnation.

A life of condemnation is a life without hope. Condemnation is when we’re demanded to pay the price for our sin. It’s the fearful expectation of judgement. Before salvation, humanity already stands condemned. We, as the church, don’t have to condemn the world, they’re already condemned! John 3:18 declares, “He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” It’s not that Jesus condemns them, their own unbelief is what brings them into condemnation.

But once we are born-again and following wholeheartedly after Jesus, condemnation should have no place in our lives! Romans 8:1 tells us what a righteous life should look like. “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.” Hallelujah! When we’re serving Jesus, we stand free from condemnation. We are now looking forward to the eternal promises that Jesus gave us! Our sin has been paid in full and washed out of our lives! As long as we follow His lead, we will never have to live under condemnation again!

What people may not understand, is that there will still be times when they feel bad about their behavior. This isn’t condemnation, it’s conviction! Condemnation is worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:1). It’s sorrow without hope or and without change. Conviction is godly sorrow - it brings repentance and a change in behavior.

So how can you tell the difference? Condemnation cuts down, conviction builds up.

Condemnation confines people in their sin. Condemning thoughts and messages sound like this:
“You’ll never get better.”
“You’ll always be a screw-up.”
“You’re not worth the next breath you take.”
“God hates you.”
It gives no hope and offers no escape.

Conviction will never start with, “look how bad you are, you’re always messing up!” John 16:10 shows us that conviction starts with our righteousness. Godly conviction says:
“You don’t want to do that, you’re righteous now!”
“You’ve been made better than that behavior!”
“You don’t want the consequences of that!”
“Jesus set you free from that bondage!”
Can you see the difference?

Conviction is a gift of God’s grace! Titus 2:11-12 tells us that grace teaches us to deny ungodliness. This may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s an important part of the believer’s life. Sadly, too many christians deny the grace of God when they turn their backs on His conviction. Brothers and sisters, this shouldn’t be!

The next time you get challenged or confronted with something in your life - don’t be angry! You’re not being condemned! This is conviction, my friend! Embrace it and watch the change that takes place in your life!

2 Corinthians 7:11 “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire,what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

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