The Difference Between the Spirit’s Conviction and Satan’s Condemnation

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

So many people live with unnecessary guilt and shame, so what’s the difference between the Holy Spirit’s convicting us of sin and the Devil’s condemnation of us.

The Accuser

So many people live with unnecessary guilt and shame, so what’s the difference between the Holy Spirit’s convicting us of sin and the Devil’s condemnation of us. God calls Satan “the accuser of our brothers the accuser of our brothers” (Rev 12:1) because he’s apparently accusing us before the Father that we’re still sinning! And you know what? He’s right! He’s constantly ranting, “So and so did such and such God!” But God has cleansed us through our trust in the shed blood and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. We’ve been acquitted once and for all by the Heavenly Court, so no one can condemn us anymore (Rom 8:35-39). The Devil will whisper in your ear, “It’s all right…other Christians are doing it,” but the moment you do it, he scream, “You can’t be a Christian! You’re a fake…” Don’t believe that lie. The only time you can believe Satan is if he tells you he’s a liar, because he’s the father of lies (John 8:44).

“Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

Satan’s Churches

The Apostle Paul knew the wiles of Satan, writing that “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14). It’s a war for truth or as John MacArthur said, “The Truth War,” but we’re not battling flesh and blood. Remember “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” (Eph 6:12). Since Satan has his own ministers who appear as angels of light, he must also have his own churches. And Satan’s churches have full parking lots and full pews. That’s because they appease to the flesh. They typically promote wealth, health, and prosperity but refuse to mention the need for repentance, sanctification, living in holiness, resisting the urge for the love of money, and so forth. Jesus teaches us to deny ourselves; prosperity or satanic preachers teach we should live in pleasure.

Little “g” God

… even the Devil can appear to be a preacher of righteousness …

There is another god that is roaming the ends of the earth. It’s the god of this world, so “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4). Satan’s ministers will not preach the need of a changed life and a changed heart. These false churches will peddle a soft-gospel (2 Cor 2:17), or one that’s half the gospel, meaning it’s no gospel at all (Gal 1:7).  You want the whole gospel, right?  What good would half a parachute be for jumping out of a plane!?  The point of this is that false churches will not even attempt to teach what the Bible says on the Holy Spirit’s conviction and the difference between satanic condemnation, where a person feels utterly lost and hopelessly condemned to hell.

Conviction vs Condemnation

One way I can tell the difference between conviction of the Holy Spirit and condemnation from the enemy, is that one makes me repent and confess it to God. The other (condemnation from the enemy) makes me feel like a fake, a reprobate, a hypocrite and that I am only playing church and am not really saved at all. My experience has been that a person who is worried about whether they are saved or not is likely saved. Why? It’s because the unsaved person could generally care less whether they’re saved or not. They don’t sweat those kinds of things…but the truly saved person will worry about this and want to make their election and calling sure (2 Pet 1:10).

Is There Really A Place Called Hell

The Liar

The difference is the Holy Spirit makes you confess your sins (1 John 1:9) and turn away from them, but evil spirits make you feel you’re useless and hopelessly lost and have no chance of being saved. They make you feel like a phony and whisper in your ear, “You’re not really a Christian. Who do you think you’re kidding?” Keep in mind, Satan’s a liar! Satan’s name means “the adversary.” It should mean liar because he is a deceiver and has been a liar from the very beginning (John 8:44), starting way back in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin (John 16:8), but the enemy will send condemnation. It is never condemnation. Remember there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).


Condemnation is of the Devil; conviction is of God, specifically, the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that’s part of what He would do when He comes into the world. He will convict the world and us of sin (John 16:8) and drive us to confession and repentance. Satan will condemn us and make us give up trying to overcome. That’s a bad trend. Take heart. If you have doubts, it means you have hope, for the unsaved man cares nothing about doubt his salvation. He is only interested in satisfying the flesh, not mortifying it. He is the god of his own universe and sits on his own thrown and the last thing he wants to do is to deny the flesh.

Interestingly, the one who doesn’t feel condemned is condemned (the unsaved), but the one who is not condemned (Rom 5:1, 8:1) sometimes feel condemned (but they’re not). If the feeling you have makes you give up trying and makes you feel that you’re hopelessly doomed to hell, then it’s not from God. It’s from Satan. As long as you’re breathing, there is time to repent and believe. If you can recognize the difference between condemnation and conviction, you can finally have true peace of mind, which will guard your heart and mind (Phil 4:7).

Here is some related reading for you: Is it a Demonic Spiritual Attack or the Holy Spirit’s conviction?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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