“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. . .” Rom 8:1 NIV
As Christians we strive to please God. Scripture reminds us, according to John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV) Those are the words of Jesus.
Following are a few of the ways we can discern whether God is convicting us by way of His Holy Spirit or the thief (Satan) is doing his best to condemn us by his accusations and lies.
When God Convicts He:
- Nudges us gently and with love
- Speaks a Scripture to our hearts for encouragement
- Speaks clearly in our hearts when we sin which allows us to repent immediately
- Reminds us of previous victories to enhance our faith and give us encouragement
- Cannot lie
- Sends friends to encourage and support us
- Gives us joy and peace
When Satan Condemns He:
- Accuses us of awful things, calls us names, tells us how unloved we are and that we are no good
- Is the father of lies and tells us God’s Word won’t work for us
- Reminds us of our failures and mistakes and tells us we will never get beyond them
- Tries at all times to discourages us
- Tells us God isn’t listening to us and that He won’t keep His promises to us
- Hates us and will try to destroy us
- Sends people to discourage us
- Tries to convince us that to sin is not that big a deal and that it won’t hurt us
- Constantly tells us we will fail and never amount to anything
- Works at tormenting us and plants seeds of doubt and unbelief to make us worry
These are just a few ways we can know if what we are hearing is from God or the thief that comes to kill, steal, and destroy us. God does not condemn us. He sent His Son to die for us so that we might have an abundant life. We cannot fathom how much He loves us, and wants to encourage us.
When we become discouraged and all kinds of negative, hurtful, and discouraging things come at us we need to recognize immediately that God is not the author of those things. God’s way is to convict us in love. He will convict us in a manner that is clear and direct when He wants to get our attention. He won’t torment us and cause us to wonder what he is saying to us. God will correct us, His children, but He will do it in a loving manner. He will also do it in a way that we can accept and understand without condemning us in any way.
Any time we begin to have constant negative thoughts – or become depressed and guilty about our past or our failures and shortcomings – we are not hearing that from God. We are hearing it from the accuser – the one who condemns us – the thief, satan.
This is literally good (God) against evil (Satan). We need to be very careful about allowing the thief to rob us of one more moment of peace. God loves us and forgives our sin immediately when we ask Him. He then casts our sin as far as the east is from the west and remembers it no more. Therefore, God isn’t the one reminding us of our past mistakes or speaking condemning words to us.
Ps 103:11-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (NIV)
When the enemy starts bringing those negative, abusive, hurtful thoughts to our hearts we have to stop him immediately. The way to do that is to refuse to yield to those things that will allow doubt and unbelief to haunt us. Instead, we need to denounce the enemy, tell him to get away from us, and remind him that he is a liar, and that he has no authority over us.
The next step is to begin to thank God for His love, His protection, His encouragement and refuse to let our minds meditate on anything but the goodness of God. Actually, the Scripture tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (NIV)
We are not slaves to our minds. We aren’t helpless when it comes to keeping out negative thoughts, but we do have to make an effort to put a stop to it and to re-focus our thinking on the things of God. He did not leave us helpless, He gave us spiritual weapons. Giving place to His Word, the Bible, will give us all the answers we need.