Conviction Or Condemnation?

Q. I was recently accused of character flaws at work. One was talking harshly to people and another was demonstrating a poor work ethic. I have felt conflicted about how to respond in my heart to such criticism. How can I discern whether this is Satan accusing me and causing me to feel guilty or whether it is God convicting me of sin? I have asked God to forgive me if I was wrong in any way. Still, I can’t seem to answer the question: Is this Satan attacking me or God trying to teach me? How can we as Christians tell the difference?

A. As a general rule, the conviction of the Holy Spirit will draw you nearer to God, while a Satanic attack uses condemnation to make you feel guilty and drives you away from Him.

Think of Adam and Eve in the garden. After eating the fruit they hid from God, and when He found them they blamed the serpent instead of asking the Lord to forgive them (Genesis 3:8-13). Satan used their guilt to drive a wedge between God and them.

Now look at King David. After he sinned with Bathsheba, He sought the Lord’s forgiveness with a humble and contrite heart (Psalm 51). This was the conviction of the Holy Spirit and David was drawn nearer to God as a result.

But this incident of yours doesn’t have to be any more complicated than a co-worker or supervisor being dissatisfied with your conduct. Whether right or wrong, it has caused you to evaluate your own behavior. The fact that you immediately asked the Lord to forgive you tells me you felt some conviction. But things like this don’t always have to be a spiritual attack, so unless there’s more to it than what you’re telling me, just let it go and resolve to be more careful about the feelings of the people around you.

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