Thanks to Ryan Slack who brought this post to my attention. For those of us who are learning to discern the messages we hear internally, this is a great guide. The original post is located here.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
It is important for those of us who are born again Christians, to know that there is a huge difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the enemy of our faith, because it can affect how we approach life.
Please, let there be no confusion. The Holy Spirit works to convict us to push away from the ensnarement of sin (doing that which is wrong) and towards God in freedom. The condemning spirit of the enemy of our faith works to push us away from God in shame and condemnation, so we are more prone in hopelessness, to continue to do what we should NOT.
“There are two feelings we can experience after we’ve sinned. One is conviction and the other is condemnation. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit, prompting us to confess and be restored to fellowship so God can continue to bless us. Its purpose is to draw us closer to God. Condemnation is from Satan, trying to convince us that we’re no good, and that God will never forgive us. It’s purpose is to keep us away from God by making us feel guilty.
“As soon as we confess our sins, we’re forgiven and the sin is forgotten as God immediately purifies us from all unrighteousness (See: 1 John 1:9). Any bad feelings we have after that are feelings of guilt that come from Satan.
“So if you’re being drawn closer to God, you’re feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But if you feel like hiding from God and begin to doubt His love for you, you’re feeling condemnation from the devil. Rebuke those feelings in the name of Jesus. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you” (see: James 4:7-10). (Jack Kelley, of Grace Thru Faith Ministries)
“There is a simple test to see if you experiencing condemnation by the enemy or gentle conviction by the Holy Spirit. Guilt and/or shame will draw you further away from the Lord deeper into sin. Conviction is the Holy Spirit nudging us to confess and turn from the sin as He provides the power to overcome” (See:Romans 2:4; Romans 8:31-39; Philippians 4:13; Luke 22:31-32). (Robin Samson of Heart of Wisdom.com)
To help you further to discern the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the devil, we are going to share with you additional principles and scriptural references that we believe will empower you in your spiritual life, your personal life, as well as your married life.
Why is this relevant to marriage? It is relevant because the condemning method of the enemy of our faith works to draw us away from the healthy thinking and actions that God wants us to embrace. And when that happens our marriages are in peril of being weakened and destroyed. When we draw towards God, we have the power of the Holy Spirit working within us to do what is good, noble, right and pure.
The following is a short study of what the Bible tells us about the character of God and the character of enemy of our faith. We pray it will inspire you to dig deeper into studying the Bible so you will rightly discern what is Truth both now and in the future.
1. Tone of the enemy of our faith: Accusing, nagging —it’s a mocking voice generating fear and shame causing confusion, projecting a sense of rejection and ministering questions like: “Has God indeed said?” He’s the father of lies (see: John 8:44). He’s deceitful, pretending to know what’s best for you.
- TONE OF VOICE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: Loving voice of our Father, imploring, beseeching and urging our return to Him …as we’re told in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden…” And in John 12:32 where Jesus says,“…I will draw all men to myself.”
2. The enemy of our faith’s messages are vague and general: He generates a blanketing, choking sense of general guilt, as though everything is wrong and there’s no one action you can really take to overcome. Often a sense of complete hopelessness and weakness prevails. The enemy attacks you in general. You can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. You feel helpless and hopeless focusing on half-truths.
- THE HOLY SPIRIT IS SPECIFIC: The Spirit says, “Fix this one thing and you’ll be free.” He commands you to take one specific action — to make a choice of your will.“And you must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they’re futile. For the Lord will not abandon His people” (1 Samuel 12:21-22).The conviction of the Spirit is specific to the sin. The Spirit defends you against your over-sensitive conscience. He draws you to God.
3. Discouragement is the message of the enemy of our faith: He centers his attack on you as a person and cuts your self-image to ribbons. He pushes to agitate and provokes you to be disobedient to God (see: 1 Chronicles 21:1) and tempts you in areas of weakness. He tells you that you are weak and not one of God’s chosen ones. He tries to ruin you without cause (see: Job 2:3).
He tries to deceive (see: Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Revelations 12:9). He continually accuses you before God (see: Revelations 12:10; Revelations 20:3). He is impatient and feeds anxious feelings.
- ENCOURAGEMENT IS GOD’S MESSAGE: He encourages you to rely on God’s power, not on your own righteousness or strength (see: 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Chronicles 20:15; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 23; Psalm 37:5-7; Proverbs 3:24-26). He encourages you to be anxious for nothing and most times doesn’t give a deadline. He comforts and encourages the broken hearted and proclaims liberty for the captives (see: Isaiah 61:1). He even makes intercession for you (see: Romans 8:26).
4. “Remember all the past” says the enemy: The devil replays the videos of your past memories of sin and guilt and shame. He draws up accounts of your past sins, failures and offenses that are under the blood.
- “FORGET THE PAST!” IS THE SPIRIT SPEAKING: The Holy Spirit tells you your sin is forgotten, cleansed, removed, covered and put away, never to be held against you. (see: John 1:29; Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:7-9; Psalm 51:7; Micah 7:19; Hebrews 10:17; Philippians 3:13; Matthew 12:31; Psalm 34:7-8)
5. The message of the enemy is rejection as by the holiness of God: He disguises himself as an agent of holiness and an angel of light (see: 2 Corinthians 11:14). He produces the feeling that God has rejected you as unworthy and unholy. Satan speaks of God as your judge and you as a miserable sinner. He emphasizes “good works” instead of God’s grace. The message is to “do, do, do” and yet you can never “do” enough to “measure up.”
- THE HOLY SPIRIT DRAWS YOU TO GOD: There is a pull of attraction towards God. He generates in you an unexpected kindness, love, long-suffering, forgiveness and new beginning with God’s help. The Holy Spirit speaks of your permanent relationship with God, drawing you to the Son of your Father (see: Joshua 1:8-9). The emphasis is to experience and live in God’s grace and forgiveness! He desires all men to be saved to come to the knowledge of truth (see: 1 Timothy 2:4).
6. The enemy brings negative scriptures to mind: As Shakespeare said, “The devil knows how to quote scripture to his purpose!” Satan threatens judgment and says, “Grace is denied because you didn’t fulfill the conditions!” He uses the Law against you to justify yourself and rely on your own righteousness (see: Romans 10:3; Galatians 2:16). He comes and sometimes takes away the word which has been sown (see: Mark 4:15).
- THE HOLY SPIRIT BRINGS POSITIVE SCRIPTURES TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE:(see: John 14:26) He speaks of the unchanging nature of God and of His steadfast love towards us. He confirms that God remains faithful to His covenant (see 1 John 1:9; Hebrews 10:23) even when we prove faithless for a time (see: 1 John 3:20). The Spirit reassures us that there is no law that is effective against those who rely on Christ’s work (see: Colossians 2:14, Psalm 25:8-14; Psalm 40:1-5). He assures us that He is our help and strength (see: Psalm 121 and Psalm 146).
7. The enemy works to isolate you: Suggestions are sown that cause you to withdraw from other Christians and works on you to think that they reject you. In your isolation, you then feel lonely, hurt, unworthy, rejected by others and angry (see: 2 Corinthians 4:4). He works to divide you from others.
- THE HOLY SPIRIT DRAWS YOU INTO FELLOWSHIP: The Spirit sends others to minister to you in love — thus you learn to accept other’s words of encouragement and to appreciate one another and their ministry to you (see: 1 John 1:3; Hebrews 12:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25). He sends others to open your eyes to turn from darkness to light so you may receive forgiveness (see: Acts 26:18). He works to unite us in love with other believers (see Luke 22:31-32).
8. The enemy of our faith emphasizes feelings: He tells you that the way you feel is the way things really are, even if facts differ (i.e. feelings are truth!). Your feelings of guilt, despair, hopelessness and doubt of God’s love for you are made to seem real. He encourages feelings of frustration at God’s unfairness and partiality and focuses on half-truths to cajole and control you and acts as a stumbling block to set your mind on your interests above God’s.
- THE HOLY SPIRIT STATES FACTS AND TRUTHS ABOUT YOU AND GOD:Feelings will follow faith in these facts! The Holy Spirit gives you correct doctrine and the whole truth. Learn your theology to avoid being fooled by Satan (see: Romans 16:19). The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth to move, influence and inspire you (see: John 16:13; Matthew 10:26-28; Psalm 19; John 8:45). He will also guide you to set your mind on God’s interest instead of man’s interests (see: Matthew 16:23;Colossians 3:1-2).
9. The attack of the enemy is destructive and demoralizing: The object is to get you to curse God to his face (see: Job 2:5). He fills your heart to lie (see: Acts 5:3). He encourages selfish ambition, arrogance, lying, bitterness, jealousy and disorder (see: James 3:13-16).
- THE HOLY SPIRIT DISCIPLINES IN JUSTICE: He disciplines as a loving Heavenly Father (see: Proverbs 3:11-12; Job 5:17; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:6-11). His wisdom is pure then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, and unwavering without hypocrisy (see: James 3:17).
- THE HOLY SPIRIT REASSURES YOU OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS: He states the fact that it is Christ who saved you and continues to keep you (see: 2 Chronicles 34:27-28; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103.8-13; John 3:17). He reminds you that God is patient and long-suffering (see: Numbers 14:18; Isaiah 30:18).
THINK ABOUT IT:
What is the purpose of the enemy of our faith in accusing and condemning us? It is to draw us away from God and to render us helpless to ourselves and to others! What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit convicting us? It is to draw us to God and to each other and to help us to be all we can be!
- Speaks in half-truths
- Pushes, agitates
- Emphasizes: “Do, do do…”
- Divides people
- Encourages our willfulness against God’s ways
- Tells us we are inadequate
- Encourages complaining
OUR HOLY SPIRIT:
- Is about the whole truth
- Wants us to be anxious for nothing
- Emphasizes: “Be, be, be…”
- Unites people
- Emphasizes the will of our Heavenly Father
- Empowers us
- Encourages contentment
The emphasis is that we’re to study all that God is in the Bible. We need to keep in mind that God is strong and He does not tolerate sin. He is our judge, but He is a fair judge who punishes and disciplines us, always wanting to draw us to Himself —not push us away from Himself. The devil’s purpose is to pull us away from God and his people. God is straightforward and direct. The enemy is sneaky.
As you go with God, you will push away that which you should release and embrace that which you should hold onto through his guidance —with His strength.
The above article was compiled by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions. It is a compilation of years of research and study (from personal study of scripture, various sermons she has heard, and help from others who have pointed out additional points).