After You Blow It, Do You Hear the Voice of Conviction or Condemnation? Here Are Five Ways to Tell the Difference

Studying the Bible

All I wanted to do was study my Bible that morning.

I’d eaten breakfast early and washed the dishes before sitting down to have some study time before we headed to church. Brian likes to sleep in whenever possible but on this particular morning, he woke up a little earlier than expected. When I say earlier, what I really mean to say is that he woke up just as I’d started my study. I greeted him with, “Good morning!” and then quickly glanced back at my study, trying to dodge the question I knew was coming next: “What did you eat for breakfast, i.e., what can you make me for breakfast?”

Let’s see. When I was fixing breakfast say, oh, two hours ago, it was eggs and toast. If you choose not to get up when the cook is cooking, you can make your way to the pantry, pour a nutritious bowl of Wheaties, sprinkle a little All Bran on top for good measure, drizzle a bit of honey around the edges and add a splash of Vitamin D milk. Enjoy!

Okay, so I didn’t say that⏤but it’s exactly what I thought while making his breakfast. After finishing up in the kitchen, I returned to my table to continue the study. I turned the page, and there it was in all of its convicting glory. The story of Jesus and the miraculous catch, found in John 21. It begins:

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

I love that Jesus was an early riser too. Unfortunately, that's where the happy comparison ends. Click To Tweet

In John 21, we find Jesus appearing to His disciples for the third time after His resurrection. Peter was feeling like a failure, floundering to regain confidence in his calling, so he did what everyone should do when struggling in life. He went fishing. And the disciples joined him. Jesus called out to them from the shore but they didn’t recognize him. It wasn’t until He called out to them that John recognized His voice. Peter eagerly wrapped his outer garment around him and swam to shore. The disciples weren’t far behind in the boat.

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.


Oh, to be more like Jesus. His servant’s heart threaded thirty-three years together for the Father’s glory. He came to serve, from beginning to end.


Even when conviction stings like it did that morning, I marvel at the Holy Spirit’s methods. There’s a vast difference between godly conviction and the enemy’s accusations, sometimes referred to as condemnation. When I re-played the Sunday morning fiasco in my mind the following day, I realized a battle was waging beneath it all. The battle between conviction and condemnation. It looked something like this:


The Voice of Condemnation:
  • You’re a lousy wife.
  • You’re lazy.
  • Why do you bother studying the bible if you can’t even act {or react} properly?
  • If you were more organized you could’ve prepared his breakfast ahead of time and put it in the fridge.
The Voice of Conviction:
  • Did you respond with a servant attitude?
  • {While reading John 21} See, Cathy, this is the way.
  • Remember what we read last week about not only thinking of your interests but also the interests of others?
  • Hmm, this could be a blog post. {Okay, maybe this was me, but I was hoping to help others avoid my foolish mistakes!}


So, I decided to jot down the subtle yet vast differences between the voices of conviction and condemnation. I put five of the many differences in an infographic to save or print for future reference if you wish. {The link to the downloaded version is below the graphic and is clearer than the image below.}



Have you experienced the battle between the two “C”‘s as I did that Sunday morning?


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