by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
How do you tell the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit (which is one of His roles – John 16:7-11) and the condemnation of the enemy?
The question comes from my thinking this week on Revelation 12:10-11, “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
The Accuser of course is Satan. We see him in this position in Job 1-2 and here John confirms his constant work of accusation and condemnation. This, for me, is a constant barrage!
The enemy takes apart every decision, event, discussion, to convince me that I am a sinner without hope. Some days are worse than others but the intensity seems to increase.
I’m sure I have limited knowledge in this matter and my list is incomplete, but here is what the Lord has shown me thus far. Note the contrast in the messages received:
Jesus – My Advocate who lives to make intercession for me, (I John 2:1, Hebrews 7:25) provides conviction.
Satan – My Accuser who accuses and condemns me before God day and night.
This is quite a courtroom scene if you think on it!
Conviction – The goal is always restoration. Whenever the Holy Spirit is convicting me there is always a “drawing” back to Christ to restore the relationship.
Condemnation- The goal is alienation. The enemy is always insinuating that due to my sin God wants nothing to do with me.
Conviction – The focus is always Christ! Conviction will begin with a deep understanding of the utter “sinfulness of sin” but will always end with the glory of my Savior. Where sin abounds grace much more abounds!
Condemnation – The focus is self. Condemnation leaves me with “what a wretched man that I am” and no hope.
Conviction – Specific, with clarity. When the Holy Spirit is dealing with me there is no doubt what is wrong and what needs to be done about it. I may waffle and try to confuse the issue to escape having to face it but there is no doubt.
Condemnation. – Vague and confusing. Condemnation can roll in like a fog. I’m under this “dark cloud” that something is wrong but I can’t put my finger on it and there is no sense of what to do about it.
Conviction – Always has to do with unconfessed sin that has not been dealt with before God.
Condemnation – Always seems to deal with sin that has already been confessed and dealt with. “Maybe God hasn’t forgiven you! Maybe you really weren’t repentive enough! That sin may simply be unforgivable!” You know the game if you’ve ever met the enemy.
Conviction – Never haunts me with “past to present” cause and effect. The Holy Spirit is always very specific with the goal of restoration but He also intends for me to mature in righteousness and wisdom. He, at times, will walk me through an event and show me how my failure to grow in certain areas in the past, has resulted in my present situation.
Condemnation – A “haunting feeling” that what is happening now or just happened is a result of God punishing for my past sin. The enemy never misses a chance to batter me with my past sins and failures. He has an amazing ability to tie together cause and effect.
I’m sure this is a limited list and falls far short of a complete understanding. We must remember however that our enemy is a liar, and has never missed an opportunity to condemn and alienate.
He can only be overcome by the blood of the Lamb!
We must stand against him on the ground of all that Christ accomplished at Calvary. We must stand wearing the full armor of God (Eph. 6: 10-13).