Accusation vs. Conviction: Discerning the Holy Spirit

Words by Zac Bozeman | Image by Justin Hunter

The Bible calls Satan the great “accuser” of Christ’s followers. (Revelation 12:10) 

While demons cannot possess those filled with the Holy Spirit, they can oppress and torment us. The devil desires to throw guilt and shame at us, bringing our sins to the forefront of our minds. 

But doesn’t God do something similar through the conviction of the Holy Spirit? 

Jesus told his disciples, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:11) 

God uses the Holy Spirit to help us see our sin and its devastating consequences in our lives. 

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Understanding that we are in a spiritual battle, we must be able to discern between good and evil, to tell the difference between demonic accusation and Holy Spirit conviction. 

So how can we? 

It is not by our feelings, emotions, or intuition but by knowing God’s word. The Holy Spirit will never say anything to contradict Scripture; therefore, if we have a thorough knowledge of God and His Word, we are able to discern between the things of God and those that are not of God—between good and evil. When we hear, think, or feel something that is not of Him, we will know it instantly. 

Let’s define the terms and then look at six Biblical differences, which we will go into greater detail in later articles. 

Accusation is when Satan, along with his spiritual forces of evil, does anything to rob you of your joy, power, and fellowship with God. His goal is to move you further from God.

Conviction, however, is when God the Holy Spirit points out sin in our life to bring about confession and repentance and to sanctify us to make us more like Jesus. His goal is to move us closer to God.

Here are six Biblical differences:

  1. Accusation produces death; conviction produces life.
  2. Accusation is general; conviction is specific. 
  3. Accusation discourages you; conviction encourages you.
  4. Accusation causes you to focus on the past; conviction causes you to focus on the future. 
  5. Accusation makes you feel hopeless; conviction brings hope. 
  6. Accusation causes you to look inward; conviction causes you to look upward. 

In a culture filled with chaos, I pray Christ followers will saturate their lives with God’s word, which will bring clarity to their lives, not confusion. WL 

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