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 heard a cute story about a man who took his little daughter camping by the ocean. He tried to get her to go into the water, but when she found out how cold it was, she refused. Then he got an idea. He built a fire, heated some water in a teakettle, and poured it into the ocean. The little girl figured her daddy had fixed it, and she ran into the water without any hesitation!

That was a harmless trick, but it illustrates how Satan works. He mixes a small amount of truth with an ocean of lies. Satan is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). He’s the ultimate critic of God’s creation, and accusation is one of his most effective tactics. When you sin, he’s right there to condemn you. “You call yourself a Christian? Do you think God will hear your prayer after that? You shouldn’t even be in a church!” He’s such a hypocrite. When he is tempting us, he whispers, “Do it! No one will know!” And then after we sin he shouts, “You’ll never get away with that!”

When Satan talks to you about God, he lies. That’s why it’s important to get the truth about God from the Bible. But when Satan talks to God about you, he doesn’t need to lie, he just uses your sin against you. He is constantly studying humanity, looking for evidence to bring before the throne of God, trying to cause God to turn His back on us. For that reason, you must learn to distinguish between the conviction of the Holy Spirit that comes from God, and the accusations and condemnation of Satan. Those are two very different things.

A lot of people say, “Guilt is wrong!” No, it isn’t. It can be very, very good, if it comes from the Holy Spirit, if God imposes it to bring us back to Him. But guilt can be very bad, if it drives us to despair and hopelessness. Then we’ve listened to the wrong voice.

When the Holy Spirit convicts you, He uses the Word of God in love and seeks to bring you back into fellowship with your heavenly Father. When Satan accuses you, he uses your own sin in a hateful way to drive a wedge between you and God. He seeks to make you feel helpless and hopeless.

Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, and he listened to the devil and went out and hanged himself. Peter also betrayed Christ but he looked into Jesus’ face, and it brought conviction. Later, he came back into fellowship.

So stay out of that “ocean of lies.” The Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13), will always lead you back toward God.

By Skip Heitzig