March 19

2 Corinthians 7:9 
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God

I'm often asked, "How can I tell the difference between the devil's accusations and the Holy Spirit's conviction?" Every Christians is faced with the choice of walking by the Spirit or by the flesh on a daily basis. The moment you choose to walk according to the flesh, the Holy Spirit brings conviction because what you have just chosen to do is not compatible with who you really are. If you continue in the flesh, you will feel the sorrow of conviction.

"How do I know which kind of sorrow I'm experiencing?" you may ask. "The devil's accusation and the Spirit's conviction both make me feel sorrowful." Determine whether your feelings reflect thoughts of truth or error, and you will identify their source. Do you feel guilty, worthless, stupid, or inept? That's a sorrow provoked by accusation because those feelings don't reflect truth. Judicially, you are no longer guilty; you have been justified through your faith in Christ, and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. You are not worthless; Jesus gave His life for you. You are not stupid or inept; you can do all things through Christ. When you find lies lurking beneath your feelings of sorrow--especially if your feelings persistently drive you into the ground--you are being falsely accused. To disarm the sorrow of accusation you must submit yourself to God and resist the devil and his lies.

But if you are sorrowful because your behavior doesn't reflect your true identity in Christ, that's the sorrow according to the will of God which is designed to produce repentance. It's the Holy Spirit calling you to admit on the basis of 1 John 1:9, "Dear Lord, I was wrong." As soon as you confess and repent, God says, "I'm glad you shared that with Me. You're cleansed; now get on with life." And you walk away from that confrontation free. The sorrow is gone, and you have a positive new resolve to obey God in the area of your failure.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the "tough love" of Your Holy Spirit in bringing me to repentance when I sin.

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