Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
- Isaiah 1:17
THIS. VERSE. IS. HARD.
It makes me feel guilty, like I should be doing more. It makes me question if I'm really doing enough to live out my faith. And, there's a big problem with that.
Someone once told me that when we feel condemned it's from the enemy, but when we feel convicted it's from the Spirit.
DID YOU HEAR THAT?
There is a very real difference between feeling convicted by the Spirit of God and feeling condemned by our accuser.
So, when we feel that gut punch, how do we tell the difference?
It's so, so, so important to identify what and who is calling us to move to action. Are we adding things to our "christian checklist" out of guilt thrust on us by the enemy? Or, are we stepping up and stepping out because deep down we feel the Spirit nudging and pushing us? I don't know about you, but I've asked myself these questions many times. And, sometimes it's really difficult to discern the right answer. Over the years though, I've noticed a pattern of how God speaks life into my soul and how the enemy accuses. Can I share some identifying traits with you?
CONDEMNATION sounds like:
- "I need to do this because I'm not good enough, or doing enough to make God happy."
- "If I don't do this, God will be disappointed in me."
- "I'm not a very good Christian."
CONVICTION sounds like:
- "I feel a persistent tug on my heart to do this."
- "How can I not do this?"
- "Doing this scares the heck out of me, but I can't shake the urge to do it."
- "I don't feel like I need to earn God's love. But, I do want to express my love for him by doing this thing."
Do you hear the difference? One voice is motivated by fear and guilt. The other is motivated by a persistent, almost nagging urge to act... but its out of the love that God has shown me. If it's from God, I simply can't NOT move, and I know my actions are motivated by his love and acceptance of me regardless of what I do.
All of that is to say, if you've been sucker punched by this verse, talk to God about it. He'll help you discern his voice. And, if it is not him, if it's the enemy accusing you, you can send him away knowing that God's love for you is never contingent on what you do.
If there's something that you've felt motivated to do, but aren't sure if it is from God, stop and pray now.
Filter those tugs on your heart through the grid of conviction vs. condemnation.
Tell a friend. Pray for guidance. God will make his voice known to you.