What is a conviction?
Some will say it is no more than a personal opinion. Others define it as something for which you will be willing to die; any other position is simply a preference. Some teach that convictions are based on direct scriptural teaching. What does the Bible say?
The word ‘conviction’ is not found in the Bible. It is, however, related to three biblical words: convict, convince and conscience. The conscience is the inner sense of right or wrong. A conviction is the result of a convinced conscience.
Conviction produces change. Our conscience is awakened. Like the apostle Paul, we are stopped, arrested and start asking questions: what have I done? who am I and who am I affecting? who are You, Lord, and what do you want me to do?
In John 8:9, the men who accused the woman of adultery were convicted by their own conscience. Paul mightily convinced the Jews (Acts 18:28) and unbelievers are convinced through prophesying (teaching). Sound doctrine will convince gainsayers (Titus 1:9) and God’s judgment will convince the ungodly (Jude 15).
Convictions are needed in making personal decisions of right or wrong, not only in obeying direct Bible teaching but also in applying biblical precepts to particular circumstances. Convictions give us spiritual discernment to judge all things (ICo 2:14-1 and to approve things that are excellent (Php 1:9,10). Sometimes we are faced with decisions which are neither right or wrong. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind… happy is he that condemneth not himself in the thing which he alloweth (Rom. 14:5,22).
The Bible teaches that the conscience is not the perfect indicator of right and wrong. It can be weak (ICo 8:12), defiled (Tit 1:15), and even seared with a hot iron (1Ti 4:20). However, when fed a steady diet of the Word and submitted to God in a pure heart, it can help guide us in many circumstances. It can warn us of things that are wrong even before we know why they are wrong, thereby acting as an early warning system against sin. It can help us establish personal convictions to prevent us from being ruined by the pitfalls of life.
Our convictions do not carry the authority of the scriptures. Sometimes they are faulty. The principle of submission will become involved as we exercise conviction. Our convictions are personal and will not always agree with others. Humility and wisdom are needed to help us discern the difference between standing for truth and refusal to submit and blend our convictions with our brethren.
A person without conviction is hypocritical, focusing only on the outside looking good and failing to develop internal values and beliefs. He has no cause beyond what others think of him.
The person without conviction is indecisive. He is constantly second-guessing himself, moving on to new starts because he does not have the perseverance to go through to the finish. He lacks anchors that guide his decisions.
A person without conviction is unstable. He is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed, carried about with every wind of doctrine. He is vulnerable and easily seduced because he does not believe or stand for anything. He lacks passion.
History has shown us what happens when believers leave their first love and now it is happening more than ever. Churches that were once solidly biblical are compromising. White surrender flags are flying everywhere. The result is a collapse of conviction. The salt has lost its savor. Compromising Jesus’ Lordship and the truth of God’s Word in exchange for the allure of the world has never been the way of the true follower of Christ.
We admire people of conviction; people with immoveable beliefs who are willing to suffer, to wait and to persevere. Conviction does not fluctuate based on emotions, circumstances, opinions and peer pressure. God wants us to have conviction, not robotic followership. He wants us to be fully persuaded, not only obedient.
In order to become a person of conviction, we need to be taught. We need to be willing to see and embrace the truth. We need to read and study the Bible. When we believe something strongly, we will want to convince others. We are not concerned about looking foolish.
Conviction is expressed in how we live.
Am I a person of conviction? Do I see my need of God and the importance of prayer? Am I convinced that God’s way is best, that a life without Him is empty? Do I see the importance of living by the Bible? Does my conviction help others see the importance of embracing Truth?
What is a conviction?