Personal Convictions

PERSONAL CONVICTIONS

 

 

 

 

 

What act condemned the human race through Adam and Eve? – disobedience.

 

 

 

What is the focus of our walk in the Christian faith? – Obedience; to learn obedience even in the midst of our spiritual brethren. But obedience doesn’t save us!

 

 

 

Titus 3:5

5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

 

 

But obedience is the path to maturity or completeness

 

 

 

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

 

 

Col 1:28

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

 

 

2 Tim 3:16-17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

 

What does the Scripture say of Jesus?

 

 

 

Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (KJV)

 

 

Hebrews 5:8

 

[Yet learned he obedience] That is, he learned experimentally and practically. It cannot be supposed that he did not “know” what obedience was; or that he was “indisposed” to obey God before he suffered; or that he had, as we have, perversities of nature leading to rebellion which required to be subdued by suffering, but that he was willing to “test” the power of obedience in sufferings; to become personally and practically acquainted with the nature of such obedience in the midst of protracted woes; compare note on . The “object” here is, to show how well suited the Lord Jesus was to be a Saviour for mankind; and the argument is, that he has set us an example, and has shown that the most perfect obedience may be manifested in the deepest sorrows of the body and the soul. Hence, learn that one of the objects of affliction is to lead us “to obey God.” In prosperity we forget it. We become self-confident and rebellious. “Then” God lays his hand upon us; breaks up our plans; crushes our hopes; takes away our health, and teaches us that we “must” be submissive to his will. Some of the most valuable lessons of obedience are learned in the furnace of affliction; and many of the most submissive children of the Almighty have been made so as the result of protracted woes.

 

(from Barnes’ Notes)

 

 

 

We all agree that the breaking of any of the clearly stated moral laws of God is wrong and should be disciplined (1 Cor 5: 9-13). I’m not speaking of those things we all can agree on as morally wrong. Being disciplined for doing wrong is correction; being disciplined by obedience in doing good is the road to completeness.

 

 

 

Rom

12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

 

 

Eph 5:5-7

5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

 

 

Col 3:5-7

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

 

 

Sin is transgression of the law (1Jn 3:4) and therefore is something that is morally wrong.

 

 

 

Convictions: It is the grey areas of our convictions that often get us into trouble with our brethren. What of the use of the King James translation only? What of the movies we watch; should we watch any? What about television, playing cards, dancing or the music we listen too? Are we allowed a drink wine at dinner? Can women wear dress pants to church? Can we buy or sell on Sunday or go to a Restaurant? So many grey areas surround the Christian, many of which cause ethical dilemmas. Some things may not be wise, but is it sin?

 

 

 

One is convicted and another is not in the context of a judgement call (a judgement call is one where the answer can be justified either way based on biblical principles). The big question is what principle would God have me practice in light of this particular circumstance?

 

 

 

This is what we should do and understand:

 

 

 

What is the definition of a conviction as opposed to a strong persuasion? In context; an opinion is something of which we have acquired a taste or preference to in a given matter. A conviction is a biblical principle that I am convinced God would have me adhere to in my walk ‘in the Spirit’.

 

 

 

CONVICTION: is assent founded on satisfactory proofs which appeal to the reason (Webster Dict.)

 

PERSUASION: [opinion] is an assent founded on what appeals to the feelings and imagination (Webster Dict.)

 

 

 

Personal convictions in grey areas are given to each person by the Holy Spirit to teach individual obedience, and these convictions can be things our hearts are drawn to do that are not necessarily morally wrong. Other Christians may practice certain things without any thought, and another may not; the question is, am I willing to abide by the Spirit’s given conviction contrary the social pressure of even fellow Believers?

 

 

 

That is why an individual may have different convictions than others in grey areas of faith, for each individual has tailored convictions by which he learns personal obedience in the privacy of the heart! It causes the Believer to be in tune with the Spirit (abiding in Christ). God is not out to merely deny us things we may enjoy, but He is interested to teaching us the greater lesson of obedience from which come greater joy once learned.

 

 

 

Matt Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. NIV

 

 

IT IS FAR EASIER FOR A CHURCH OR GROUP TO STOP DOING ANYTHING THAT IS A GREY ISSUE SO AS TO PREVENT ANY ABUSES. BUT THE BIBLE ENCOURAGES US TO GO BEYOND MERE RULES AND ‘GO UNTO MATURITY’!

 

 

 

Heb 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

 

OUR PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION IS NOT DEFINED BY WHAT WE DO NOT DO, BUT WHAT WE DO – BRINGING HOLINESS TO EVERYTHING WE UNDERTAKE.

 

 

 

How do we figure out which convictions are more holy? You cannot.

 

 

Rom 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

 

 

 

Jesus Christ is our safety if we abide and remain personally pure (Jn , 11). That does not mean we separate from the impure of this world (1 Cor 5:9-11) but we do need to remain pure ourselves in the midst of impurity (Phil ).

 

 

 

Where the Bible is not clear there is liberty, the check against abuse of liberty is that it must be done in faith (Rom ) and not contrary to clearly defined moral laws of God (1 Jn 3:4), and motivated by love for God and fellow man (Jn ).

 

 

 

Some Believers may indeed be immature regarding holiness in personal habits, conduct, and modesty, and these must be taught by word and deed by older Christian’s what is appropriate, wise, and encouraging holiness that becomes a sanctified Christian (Eph 4:17-24).

 

 

 

1 Cor -13

 

Our Lord, in the days of His flesh here on earth, was careful never to cause others to stumble. The incident in Matt 17:24-27 [When they had come to Capernaum , those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.] -illustrates this. “Lest we should cause them to stumble” is a wonderful principle to follow, for it means putting Christian love into daily living. Christ died for the weaker Christian, therefore we dare not cause them to sin [contrary to their personal God given convictions*]. To sin against another Christian is to sin against Christ! It would be better to go without meat than to make others fall, says Paul.

 

 

 

We can think of dozens of applications of this principle in modern life. Take the world of amusements, for example. One person might be able to attend a theatre and not suffer from it spiritually; but if this act leads a weaker Christian astray, then the stronger Christian has sinned. A mature Christian might be able to read a popular novel and not be affected; but if his selection causes another to stumble, he has sinned.** Yes, we have liberty as Christians; but we are not at liberty to become stumbling blocks to others. What a tragedy if a believer were to backslide, or a lost sinner reject Christ, because a Christian selfishly asserted “his rights” and set the wrong example. “Let no man think only of his own good, but let him think of the good of others,” Paul states in – that is a wonderful principle to follow! [1]

 

 

 

[* By flaunting our liberty or ridiculing their obedience we cause the weaker Christian still growing up to stumble.

 

 

 

** We may practice our liberties but are restrained from being haughty about them. One mature Christian may deny himself wine at a dinner where a brother, convicted to be an abstainer, is in attendance. Each is then honouring Christ. But the onus is on the mature to make the concession as Christ did on our behalf.]

 

 

 

One should not feel inferior or despised by God when led to obey God’s conviction, especially when others may feel freedom to practice the same without hesitation. Nor feel superior because you think your walk of obedience puts you above others. Each Christian has individual convictions to bear.

 

 

 

Phil 2:3-7

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

(NKJ)

 

 

When I impose my personally given convictions upon others I am practising legalism; concluding my perceived conviction is for everyone. When I abide by personal God given convictions alone, I am obedient, despite other people’s opinions.

 

 

 

What of our accommodation of another’s convictions?

 

 

 

1 Cor Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall. (NIV)

 

 

1 Cor 10:19-33; 23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.”

29 Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? [2]

 

 

NOW WE ARE HERE TALKING OF A SINCERE BELIEVER SEEKING TO FOLLOW GOD WITH ALL HIS HEART. HE IS TRYING HARD TO BE PLEASING TO GOD IN HIS LIFE. THIS IS NOT REFERRING TO ONE WHO IS SELF-RIGHTEOUS IN HIS CONVICTIONS SEEKING TO CONFORM OTHERS TO HIS DEFINITION OF HOLINESS. THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS ONE MAY BE STRONG IN OBEDIENCE BUT IS HE IS WEAK IN LOVE, AS A RESULT UNDERMINES THE WHOLE LAW (Matt 22:37-40 Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”NKJV)

 

 

 

“…it should be understood that Paul did not say that a knowledgeable Christian must abandon his freedom to the ignorant prejudice of a ‘spiritual’ bigot. The ‘weak brother’ (vs 11) was one who followed the example of another Christian, not one who carped and coerced that knowledgeable Christian into a behavioural pattern. …” DAVID K. LOWERY

 

 

 

“… On moral matters, about which the word has spoken, the Word is supreme. On morally indifferent matters… liberty is to be regulated by love. Several things must be kept in mind, however. In the first place, the passage does not refer to legalists’ desirous of imposing their narrow ..[definition of holiness] upon others. Such are not weak brethren, but wilful brethren desirous of glorying in the subjection [or catering] of others to their tenets (cf. Gal -13). This is tyranny, and Christianity must always be on guard against this. …WYCLIFFE BIBLE COMMENTARY (1 Cor )

 

 

 

In the grey areas of convictions each person is to stand firm before God, for God will hold each one personally accountable for the convictions that one was given by the Holy Spirit, which were given to teach one personal obedience of the heart to God alone. We may obey certain behaviour because of Church traditions, peer expectations, and family expectations but that is not loyalty to God alone, but is often based on gaining acceptance by others.

 

 

 

And do not use your liberty of grace to be an excuse to not obey convictions and fulfil the flesh.

 

1 Peter as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.

 

 

 

Gal 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another

 

 

Jude 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

Also let us not despise another for his differing convictions as though one conviction is holier than the other!

 

 

 

Rom 14:3

 

3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

 

 

Personal convictions in the grey areas of faith, no matter how strongly held or rationally presented, cannot establish restrictions applicable to the entire Body. Only those moral laws that are clearly defined from Scripture as sin are binding upon the whole body. We may share our personal convictions, explaining the reasons we have for having them, and some may become convinced of the wisdom for doing so, but we may not impose them on others who are not thus convicted. Our personal convictions, once shared, may indeed cause the hearer to be convicted too, but be sure the conviction they acquire is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work, not your pressure for them to conform.

 

 

 

LEADERSHIP HAS RESPONSIBILITY TO LEAD WITH CONGREGATIONAL FAITH IN MIND, PROTECTING THE WEAK ONES GROWING IN THE LORD.

 

 

 

Leadership may have to impose or restrict some aspects of liberty, worship, praise and practices for the good of the overall health of the Body in opposition to an individuals freedom. It is here, as a people of God, that we learn to submit to the elders (authority) in the name of God. [3]

 

 

 

Every grey area of convictions is fraught with risk. However we mature in how we respond to the practice of grey convictions, and how we do that to the glory of God by bringing holiness and love to everything we undertake.

 

 

 

Establishing a law based on personal convictions in a grey area for the entire body produces a weapon that the weak will use to control others. We are to encourage laws of love that brings liberty – “man-made measurements of spirituality can become burdensome, making the quest for holiness a pain.” KURT DE HAAN; I’m not a legalist am I?

 

 

 

Those with differing convictions should be honoured as having the courage to stand by their convictions. We honour another’s convictions by allowing them to live by them without being despised. In this way we honour Christ.

 

 

 

Rom 14:1-12

1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

2 One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.

3 Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.

 

4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5 One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.

 

6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.

7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;

8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God .

11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. (NAS)

 

 

 


[1] (from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1992 by SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.) []brackets and ** comments added by Tom Kartzmark

 

[2] Lk Give to the wicked [even] if necessary, what they require in light of their need. The balance of this is through the study of Scripture. Acts as anyone had need; 1 Thess will not work …shall not eat. We are not to reward sin or feed a person’s sinfulness, God does not accommodate sinfulness.

 

[3] Of equal challenge to individual obedience is submission to authority (see authority series). The only time one is to resist authority is when authority asks one to do something that to them would be morally (lawfully) wrong, then one must obey God rather than man. When asked not to do something that is a gray issue, even though one may be strongly convicted of the rightness of the stand, the submission always takes precedence.

 

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