What I’ve learned:
The enemy is well able to introduce and press thoughts into our mind and does so persistently. He’ll plant wrong thoughts and turn around and accuse you for it, bringing guilt, condemnation and confusion. After all, why would you be having these thoughts if you’re truly saved? “Take every thought captive,” doesn’t mean never have a wrong thought– it can’t, because every thought is not your own! It means don’t take it in to meditate, stew over and/or act on. If you know it’s wrong, resist it at the outset with Scripture– realigning your focus on God, not you or the enemy- it’s your focus he wants anyway. Remind yourself (and the devil) you are a new creation in Christ, the old you is gone and the new has come– every day in every way, as you read and agree with the Word, the Holy Spirit is doing the work only He can do and you are being renewed and changed into the likeness of Christ. It really is just that simple. The Lord was gracious in making it so. Bless Him!
When the Holy Spirit corrects or convicts us, I like to describe it as the “get in–get out” theory. He is going to correct and discipline us and show us what we did wrong. He is going to get in and get out. He is not going to badger us or nag at us about the same thing. He is going to show us the mistake, lay it upon our heart to repent and ask for forgiveness and then He is going to expect us to move on. He will keep convicting us until we do something about it.
However, He won’t make us feel depressed, guilty or ashamed like the enemy will. As we grow in our walk with the Lord we will be able to more quickly identify when it is conviction from the Holy Spirit or condemnation from the enemy.
When we receive condemnation from the enemy, it is different. He wants us to stew on what we did wrong and let it build up inside us. He is hoping we will take on the emotions of guilt, regret, blame and shame. He wants these emotions to plant a seed inside us; telling us that we are no good, that we will do it again and nobody is going to forgive us for our mistakes.