Yesterday I discussed the things we know about convictions from scripture. Jesus is the cause of some of our conviction. There is a legal aspect to our conviction. There is also a faith aspect to our convictions. Today we are going to move away from scripture for a moment and talk about the convictions that can be observed within the Christian community and the world.
According to the dictionary the word “conviction” has five main definitions:
|1.||a fixed or firm belief.|
|2.||the act of convicting.|
|3.||the state of being convicted.|
|4.||the act of convincing.|
|5.||the state of being convinced.|
Because we’re not talking about us convicting or convincing someone else, we should only deal with definitions 1, 3, and 5 in this post.
1. a fixed or firm belief – A current example of this is someone who may have a firm belief that Halloween is wrong, while another has a firm belief that Halloween is not wrong. A more extreme example would be the group/family that proclaims the “God Hates Fags” message. So where do these sort of beliefs come from? I think most of my readers will agree that the God Hates Fags group is way off base and that their beliefs have nothing to do with God. When dealing with Halloween, do these beliefs come from God? Is it possible for God to convict one person that Halloween is wrong and another that Halloween is not-wrong?
2. the state of being convicted – I have seen people convicted because they were told it was wrong to drink and they had drank. I have seen people convicted because they were tithing on their NET rather than their GROSS. I have seen people convicted because they were involved in adulterous relationships. Where did these convicting come from? Was it Jesus convicting them that drinking was a sin? Is this consistent with Jesus’ own position? Where they convicted of something that wasn’t sin because they trusted someone they shouldn’t have?
3. the state of being convinced – This is similar to the previous definition, differing only in severity. To be convinced of something does not necessarily mean that the person is convicted of a particular sin. For instance, I am convinced that homosexuality is wrong, but I do not deal with that tendency. Others have been convinced that all alcohol is wrong or any other sort of doctrine. Does this convincing come from Jesus? Some of it. Does it come from other sources? I think it can.
You may have noticed that when we look at convictions like this there arises a possible conflict. Take Halloween for an example. One may be convicted that Halloween is evil, while another is convicted that Halloween is not evil. Perhaps both are children of God. Are both of these convictions come from God? Does one? Do neither? If both come from God, then we seem to have a contradiction within God – which is not possible. If only one (or neither) come from God, than that means that the other (or both) people are wrong and should not be claiming that God made them feel that way. If Paul is right in Romans 14, than it seems like we definitely have the ability to make our own convictions (i.e. to eat or not to eat meat from idols). But he also indicates that whatever we believe, we should do. This does not say anything about God convicting us, but if, in our minds we believe that God has convicted us and we go against it we have then sinned against God.
When we look at life, we see many people being convicted of many things. As scripture showed us yesterday, there is definitely a place for Jesus to convict us. There is definitely a legal aspect of being convicted, both in God’s law and in social law. But there are also other sources of conviction. There are some who are guilted into a certain belief or conviction. There are some who sit down and work out what they are and are not going to believe. There are also some convictions that just seem natural, either by living in the world or by being one of God’s children. There are even some convictions that are sins to hold (i.e. Conviction that God hates XXXX people).
As we live life, as we mature in Christ, some of our convictions will change. Some of our convictions will grow stronger, others weaker. Through fellowship with God and fellowship with his children we will all change. Some may hold to convictions that are not important, like whether or not it is wrong to have a TV. But whatever our convictions, we should not let this effect our relationship with God, his children, and the world. If they do, then we need to look at changing our convictions.