February 17, 2020

Daniel Fachting, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist, Lay Minister at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Clare, and Chancellor for Knights of Columbus Council #3029. He can be reached at

While conviction and condemnation often mean the same thing in our secular world, for Christians, the words, while similar have different meanings. God convicts, while the devil condemns. As Christians we know that all are sinners and not perfect. All of us have evil inclinations and sometimes do evil things. All of us want to do things our way and not God’s way. Sometimes we feel convicted and sometimes we feel condemned when we sin. What’s the difference?

For me, the difference can be summed up metaphorically in the life of St. Peter as contrasted with Judas. While both had turned away from Jesus and both felt remorseful, Peter goes on to become the first pope while Judas kills himself. Perhaps it depends on who whose voice they listened to after they had sinned. When God convicts us of sinning, the message we receive goes like this, “My dear child, I know you are doing your best to be the person I created you to be. I love you. You are mine. However, what you did was wrong, and I want you to stop doing wrong. You are forgiven.” When the devil condemns us the message goes like this, “What is wrong with you? How could anyone possibly love you after what you have done. There is no hope for you. God will never forgive you. You’re evil. You might just as well give up and kill yourself.”

In the Bible story of the woman caught in adultery, conviction and condemnation are clearly presented. The Pharisees, following the law of Moses, condemn the woman and want to kill her. While Jesus, says that he does not condemn her, but forgives her and tells her to stop committing this sin. If condemned, she doesn’t get another chance and she is not forgiven. But, being convicted, she is forgiven, given another chance, and lives.

We know that all of us are sinners, and will experience great remorse. Whose voice will you listen to? The voice that convicts or the voice that condemns?

“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his light shine upon you and give you his peace.”

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