Before I go on to the second Big Question to Experiencing Wholeness, I think It's important to understand two things when it comes to listening for God's voice when we ask: Where is God leading me to change? So, this is a bit of a Part 2 when considering the first question.
First, knowing the difference between conviction and condemnation is essential. The enemy likes to pull the wool over our eyes, making us think it's God that is condemning us. No, God never condemns (Romans 8:1), he only convicts, and there's a big difference between the two.
Conviction is always done in love, never in judgment. Conviction comes from the Father's love, to protect, to transform, to change for the better. He doesn't overload us with a long, laundry list that overwhelms us to the point that we don't even know where to begin. He gently leads us in one or two things, and then doesn't leave us to do it on our own. He comes along side of us to accomplish his purposes in our lives. His Spirit empowers and enables us to change.
Condemnation is pointing the long, bony finger of accusation and judgment, bringing shame and disgrace to the one being charged. Condemnation stems from the evil ones plans to kill, steal, and destroy. (John 10:10) The enemy's native language is lying. How many of us walk around believing lies straight from the pit of hell? (John 8:44) Deceit is the most subtle of the enemy's tactics. You're not good enough. You're not adequate. You're stupid. These were lies I believed for years. Recognizing his lies is the first step towards freedom. Once I acknowledged the lies as lies, I could begin to renew my mind with God's truth.
He sees me as his beloved child, competent and worthy. He is proud of me and chose me to make a difference in the world where I live, work, and play.
Understanding the distinction between these two words will equip you to walk in the freedom and love of God's grace.
Back in the day when my kids were just beginning to seriously date, I read a book, Choosing God's Best. For me (since I had already chosen God's best for me:), the big takeaway from the book was Chapter Eight: Recognizing God's Voice. In this chapter, author Dr. Don Raunikar, includes a chart entitled, God's Voice, Satan's Voice. I've shared this so many times with friends, and I'll share it with you, because sometimes it's difficult to know whose voice you are following.
stills you, leads you, reassures you, enlightens you, encourages you, comforts you, calms you, and convicts you.
Satan's voice... rushes you, pushes you, frightens you, confuses you, discourages you, worries you, obsesses you, and condemns you.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice. –John 10:4-5
Whatever your life rhythm, you'll find the question - Where is God leading me to change? - to be pertinent to your spiritual growth. Listen for his reassuring voice of high belief, grace-filled love, and companionship. Know you are loved!
Don't let condemnation pull you down. It's not from God. Run, run, run!!! Run away from the stranger's voice, the condemning spirit of the enemy.
God did not mean for us to walk this life alone. Community is an important element to our spiritual formation. Next week we'll be focusing on the second of the Four Big Questions: Who can join or help me in growing spiritually?