Who is really talking?
February 2, 2022, 9:18 AM

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set youfree from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 

As a child of the 80’s I loved watching movies. I loved the Police Academy series. They had all the best characters. My favorite was Michael Winslow The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects. He had the ability to make realistic sounds using only his voice. He could make alarm sounds, gun shots, and even do peoples voices. I tried to mimic those sounds as I watched religiously. I loved his impersonations, but they were never better than the real thing. They sounded close to the original, but if you listened carefully, you would notice a difference here and there.  

When facing our struggles and confronting our sin, we hear two voices that sound familiar: conviction and condemnation. I’ve heard it said that “Condemnation is the enemy's best impersonation of the Holy Spirit." If we don't stop and pay close attention to their words, we can very easily confuse one for the other. Mixing them up can send us in a downward spiral, but recognizing their contrast can propel us forward into growth. 

The voice we listen and respond to the most determines the direction of our lives. We can listen to the accuser (Revelation 12:10) or our Advocate (John 14:26). Contrary to what we might think, the enemy's main job isn't temptation but an accusation. If he can make us feel worthless and discouraged, then in the moments when we need to pray the most, we will feel like we can come to God the least. 

During those times when we mess up, the enemy begins to whisper in our ear and attempts to mimic conviction. He makes things personal (What's wrong with me?), permanent (I ALWAYS...), and pervasive (...mess up EVERYTHING!). He attempts to convince us that something we did is who we are. 

Because we've done something wrong and feel bad about it, we mistake condemnation for the right voice of conviction. Believe it or not, conviction is one of the greatest gifts God gives us. So it's understandable the enemy would try to mimic it by offering us something less than. 

Conviction focuses on correction and moves us forward. Condemnation concentrates on punishment and keeps us stuck in the past. Conviction leads us to repentance and makes us want to change, while condemnation keeps us stuck in the past, feeling useless and hopeless. We're pulled closer to Christ and others when we listen to conviction. Condemnation pushes us towards isolation, where we avoid Christ and those around us. Conviction reminds us of our new identity in Christ, while condemnation only allows us to see our shame and old self. 

Shame and condemnation can't change us; only grace can. Be careful who you listen to; it matters more than you realize. Don't fall for the impersonator. In what ways have you listened to the voice of condemnation in your past? How are you listening to it currently? Why do these thoughts plague your thinking? What does God's truth say in response to those struggles?

Prayer: Father God, You extend me grace amid the struggle. I will tune my ear to the Holy Spirit and silence the enemy. May I listen to Your voice that reminds me I am not what I did, but I am who You say I am, and that is loved, forgiven, and redeemed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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