Read Romans 8:1-2
1 No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death. (JBP)
Some churchgoing Christians often feel miserable about themselves. Each and every Sunday they get a good tongue lashing from the pulpit about how sinful they are and how grateful they ought to be for the grace of God. It is a rather graceless proclamation of grace.
And so they feel condemned. One dangerous alternative to that is to downplay the whole notion of human sin and just reassure everyone that God is not too bothered about all that sort of thing.
The way out of these unsatisfactory options is to distinguish between conviction and condemnation. Paul says that if we are united with Jesus through faith in what he has done and who he is, then we are not condemned. We share Jesus’ accepted status before God.
And yet it is right and proper to admit our sin and express sorrow for it and repentance from it. This is conviction. It is the Holy Spirit tapping us on the shoulder and reminding us that we have always to fling ourselves on the mercy of God.
Condemnation is unhealthy. It crushes us by rendering us hopeless and rejected. It comes from our own distorted upbringing and unbalanced Christian teaching, but ultimately it comes from the evil one.
Conviction on the other hand is healthy. It certainly makes us uncomfortable but is meant to drive us into the gracious arms of God. It comes from the Spirit of God who has no desire to crush us or condemn us. The bad news of sin meets its match in the good news of grace.