How do we know the difference between the Holy Spirit's conviction over sin and the Accuser's game of guilt-shaming? I've been thinking about this for a few days.
This morning after the kids went to school, the sky got very dark. The wind blew the tops of the trees and the live oak leaves that have been dropping all over my yard. Thunder rumbled. It seemed to be that way for two hours with no rain. These are the perfect conditions for my tornado-phobic self to start panicking. As the pressure builds outside it also builds in my chest. Stormy conditions without rain make me the most afraid.
Finally, the clouds released the rain. Some small hail came down with it. It bounced off part of the roof and clinked against my kitchen windows. After about five minutes it was just rain. The thunder was gentle. My anxiety was relieved.
I put Willa down in her perfectly dark nursery for her nap. My bed wasnt made yet, so I crawled in it and went to sleep to the sound of the rain. No need for a noisemaker.
When I woke up, all the trees in our new backyard were perfectly still and everything looked washed and clean. For now, there is no yellow layer of pollen on every outdoor surface. My kids' days old chalk art is finally gone.
The Spirit's work of conviction is to bring repentance and restoration. Like the storm with rain, there is an end result of peace, cleansing and life.
The Accuser's work of guilt and shame does not result in iife. There is no cleansing to be had. He bullies with thunderous threats until we hide in our deepest closets. He digs up old stuff we brought to the Lord long ago. We almost can't see Jesus through the fear, anxiety and dread.
Because Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and rose again, we don't have to cooperate with Satan's guilt game. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to do the divine work of showing us our sin, cleansing our consciences and helping us grow toward Christ-likeness.
The work of conviction can be difficult and painful, but there is always, always, always peace, life, and relief at the end. Let's cooperate with the Spirit and reject the shame game.