I John 3:23-24 (AMP) This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. The one who habitually keeps His commandments [obeying His word and following His precepts, abides and] remains in Him, and He in him. By this we know and have the proof that He [really] abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us [as a gift].
To have the courage of one’s convictions. An idiom meaning to behave according to one’s beliefs. To act in accordance with our personal belief system despite the criticism of others. As Christians, there are certain characteristics in our life that will change as our knowledge grows in His Word, His Spirit continually renews and revives our heart, and our will gives in to His Way. We are the ones who are changed by His Presence. In the midst of His Glory, there is not goodness found in us just a longing to move closer in spite of our deplorable sinful state. In Romans 7, Paul talks about our heart warring with our flesh. The endless battle of pride being nailed to the Cross to make way for fulfillment. It is an ugly skirmish. What are we fighting for? No, really. In order to make the fight worth fighting and courage worth having – it is important to know what conviction is and how to use it.
The courage of our convictions as believers is faith. Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified) says, “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” There are certain aspects of convictions which must be understood in order to make them effective in the life of the believer. Our convictions serve a specific purpose in character development. There are three relevant aspects in the procurement of faith that is our full assurance, title deed, and confirmation that the things we hope for are divinely guaranteed which gives us the courage to continue in the good fight for faith each day. The three things are the Word of God, Holy Spirit and human heart.
Word of God
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (AMP) All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Word of God convicts us of sin. The word conviction means a fixed or firm belief. In order to know and understand the importance of Christ’s Arrival, Ministry, Death and Resurrection, one must note the unpaid debt of sin requiring His Blood. If we remain ignorant of our need for Christ, it will limit our pursuit of Him. The more our heart and mind consume the Word of God the more compelling the need to rid our life of it to be closer to the Lord. Not only does the Word of God convict us but carefully details the rights and rewards of the righteous or those who live in right standing with the Father thanks to His Son. The contract of our covenant with God through Jesus Christ is carefully outlined in great detail in the Word of God. It becomes the sword that split the worthwhile endeavors from worthless wanders so we have direction. It is the map to full satisfaction.
John 16:7-11 (AMP) But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin[and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: about sin [and the true nature of it], because they do not believe in Me [and My message]; about righteousness [personal integrity and godly character], because I am going to My Father and you will no longer see Me; about judgment [the certainty of it], because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged and condemned.
Growing up, our family attended a denomination that rendered the Holy Spirit a silent partner. Never fully acknowledging His Role in spiritual fulfillment, we studied Hebrews and Revelation each year but never opened the Book of Acts. I was full of God’s Word but had no one to carefully help me take it apart, digest it and apply it appropriately to my life. I knew the Books of the Bible and owned many translations of the Word, but it was not effective. I needed the One who Jesus promised to send to sort out the details and find myself in the plot. The One who would be my Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener and Stand by. The Word of God is a sword to be wielded by the Holy Spirit. He knows God’s Plan and Purpose for my life and executes it to perfection within me.
God’s Plan and purpose for us is personal. No two people have the same purpose in life. Our life is created to be an individual masterpiece completed by Christ in us. God’s Word and His Spirit are the two things that produce conviction in our life. The conviction that God’s Word is absolutely true and the Work of His Process by His Spirit completely worthwhile gives way to reproduction of faith and fortification of confident hope. Too much of either will create imbalance and cause us to lean one way of the other. The Word gives way to legalism. The Spirit gives way to emotionalism. Anything taken out of context with God is convoluted. The personal plan created for my life is not the same as yours. The steps that I need to take to reach my divine destination are not the same. I must have courage in my convictions but not try to persuade others to do the same.
Romans 14:22-23 (AMP) The faith which you have [that gives you freedom of choice], have as your own conviction before God [just keep it between yourself and God, seeking His will]. Happy is he who has no reason to condemn himself for what he approves. But he who is uncertain [about eating a particular thing] is condemned if he eats, because he is not acting from faith. Whatever is not from faith is sin [whatever is done with doubt is sinful].
Just keep it between yourself and God seeking to do His Will. This bears repeating. To have courage of one’s convictions does not mean pushing them on other people. The “do’s” and “don’ts” for you may not be the same for every other believer. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. While I agree that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial – it is important to note that your convictions are personal and a heart matter between you and Jesus Christ. As the Lord molds us and shapes us – He uses conviction to guard our heart and mind in the process. In the same way, if I attend a church that has certain beliefs integrated in their doctrine such as woman must wear skirts then I must honor their conviction in order to make sure I don’t cause another to stumble. I cannot use my freedom to take your freedom from you or vice versa.
God has given me His Word. He has filled me with His Spirit now I must give Him my heart. All of it. My personal convictions are a product of this three-leg stool supporting my new life in Jesus Christ. However, if I am not confident in the Word, His Spirit or the commitment of my heart then I will begin to push my convictions on others. Why? Insecurity. Fear. Doubt. Sometimes God will urge, nudge or press us to do that is strictly for our own character development but rather than trusting God to accompany us in the process – we drag others along. I am part of the Body of Christ. It is through intimacy with Christ that this relationship is initiated and developed by faith in Him alone.
I John 3:19-22 (AMP) By this we will know [without any doubt] that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart and quiet our conscience before Him whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands]. Beloved, if our heart does not convict us [of guilt], we have confidence [complete assurance and boldness] before God; and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us].
This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. (I John 3:23) We can find courage in our convictions today. Confident hope is born of steadfast faith, the Spirit of God in us, and establishing our heart on a firm foundation of faith. God has commanded us to love and seek the best for one another. Do not be deceived. Placing personal convictions on anothers is judgment. Spiritual bullies are born of browbeating others to follow because their way is better. Better than God’s or His Way specifically for you or me?
I could not understand or comprehend fully the powerful resource of God’s Word without His Spirit. The Spirit of God weaves His Word into wisdom as it establishes our worth to Him. Freedom in Christ is the removal of all restrictions, hindrances and limitations between us and His Presence. My obstacles are not the same as yours therefore the convictions in my life born of His Word and Spirit are for the piercing of my heart and not anyone else. They were handwritten along with my life plan spoken of in Psalm 139. Likewise, I cannot be tempted to yield to the convictions of others without compromising the Work of God within me.
Our identity is firmly established in the Person of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t need any help. He has given me all the assistance I need. The only thing I have to offer is the rest of my heart. My heart must be firmly established by faith. His Word and His Spirit work together to produce full assurance which becomes my confidence. Take courage in your convictions today. They are the gateway to freedom. They are personal. God loves you. He is good! He will never let you down. Trust Him. Believe in Him. Pursue His Presence. You are not alone and never forsaken. Above all His Grace is always enough!
Colossians 2:2-3 (AMP) [For my hope is] that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the mystery of God, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God].