We should have convictions as Christians. Things we draw the line on and say, I choose not to participate in _____________. After all, we are called to be different as Christians, otherwise, how are we different from the world? What sets us apart if we talk, act, walk, dress, and behave like the world? This world is not our home. Titus 2:11-14 says,
"11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."
But convictions do not define what truth is. They are personal by nature, based on our own conscience and faith in the Lord.
In scripture, there are areas where a lot of what we do in life is left up to Christian liberty. I know that what I am convicted about at this time in my life, may or may not be convicting you. How do we move forward in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ when convictions and beliefs seem to set us apart and continually cause strife and division within the body of Christ? Here are some things that I'm learning about Christian liberty and convictions. Romans 14 is talking about convictions and beliefs; that which govern our behavior. Here's what I'm learning. I'm a work in progress!
- Our humility should always win over our right to be "right".
- It is not wrong to be certain we are right; it becomes pride when we are unable to imagine where we might have gone wrong.
- Convictions are strong persuasions and beliefs on a situation or a topic.
- Convictions do not give me a license for thinking I am better than others.
- Convictions do not determine whether I am right or wrong; that's the Bible's job.
- Convictions draw the line between what I will do and what I will not do as an exercise of Christian liberty.
- Convictions should not make me bitter towards those that may not agree with me. Likewise, my liberty to partake should not make me bitter towards those that may not partake.
- Convictions should ultimately be making me more holy, not feeling like I'm holier than thou.
- My liberty and freedoms should ultimately be making me more holy, not feeling like I'm holier than the person refraining.
- Convictions should make me more like Christ, not causing me to take over the job of the Holy Spirit.
- Convictions should drive me to the Word of God more, not confine me to a list of do's and don'ts.
- Convictions sometimes require hard choices to be made; be prepared to live out what you believe.
- Other believers should respect my convictions and not try to get me to cross over or defy my conscience.
- Liberty in Christ also means having the freedom to say no thank you.
- Grace and love should always be the parameter for each side; the partaker and the one who refrains.
- Never let convictions keep you from praying for another person or loving them less. This becomes sin.
- Never forget the depth and depravity of your own sin and personal struggles. We all fall short.
- Ultimately we are called to study the Word of God for ourselves, continually being sanctified and growing in our own personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.
- We are called to prefer our brother or sister in Christ, and die to our own self.
- All Christians, no matter what, are called to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:4) and walk in love (Romans 14:15).
- A Christian's love ought to deny fleshly lusts.
- A Christian's love ought to cause us to live in light of eternity.
- Convictions should not cause us to be judgmental. (Romans 14:1-12)
- Love for the Christian body should also cause me to deny certain liberties, in order to love and serve the brethren. (Romans 14:13-23)
- 1 Corinthians 6:12 says it best, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient. A personal conviction is made because I say, this maybe "okay" but I'm choosing to avoid it because it will not help me in my personal walk or growth or may not be necessary for my growth.
- Convictions do not necessarily strengthen our faith, that's only done by God's grace (Hebrews 13:9)
- Convictions should exist based on the grace of God, not legalism.
- Convictions based on grace go to the heart of the matter, not to a list of do's and don'ts.
- Convictions based on grace, should motivate me to obey God based on a decision to please my Heavenly Father, not man or man-made rules or the law.
- The person that does not have a personal conviction about a matter should not judge the other, who does. (Romans 14:1-12)
- To the Christians who disagree on certain matters we need to both be warned: "do not think more highly of yourself based on your personal decision." Both are tempted to pass judgement upon their brother or sister in Christ, and the Bible warns against this.
- Temptation of Christian #1 who thinks it's okay to do _______: "How could that person be so ignorant in his/her grasp of God's grace and liberty?
- Temptation of Christian #2 with his/her conviction: "How could he/she be so liberal? Doesn't he/she believe in separating themselves from that activity?"
- Both of the above are considered to be judging another brother or sister. Both.
- Judging a brother or sister in Christ is an offense against God. (Romans 14:4) Ultimately we are to answer to God alone.
- You are no longer walking in love, if you prefer your liberty over "tripping" your other brothers/sisters in Christ. (Romans 14:13-23)
- Pursue what makes for peace and a mutual building up. (Romans 14:18)
- It means we are not to exercise any liberty which encourages a weaker Christian to sin by following our example. We are to be very careful about the way we flaunt our freedom in Christ. Flaunting our liberties or parading them does not care about the weaker brethren, only one's self.
- Surrendering our liberty is a great investment. Hoarding our liberty is a dangerous form of self-indulgence.
- It is not good for me to exercise any liberty by which my brother/sister stumbles. (Romans 14:21)
- Romans 14:19-23 shifts our attention to what we should be ultimately be pursuing: stop judging, seek to prefer others over your own desires, and pursue what makes for peace and unity and promote the Kingdom of God. Put aside the things that hinder it.
- We need to carefully consider our convictions. (Romans 14:5)
- We need to carefully consider that what we approve of, God might disapprove of. (Romans 14:22)
- Realize that convictions are simply that: convictions. They are strong beliefs we have and hold firm. As strongly as we hold them, true convictions are not the test of true holiness. They should not be fundamentals of our faith; rather, they should be the outworking of our faith in Christ.
- Don't confuse convictions with truth, with God's commands, or with fundamentals of the faith.
- We are not to try to impose our convictions on others. Likewise, we are not to try to impose our personal freedom in certain areas on others as well or make them feel pressured to partake in what we feel is okay to do.
- Although personal convictions are a private matter between us and God, the exercise of our convictions becomes a public matter. My practice sets an example for others (whether I choose to refrain or participate in something).
- We need to give serious thought to our convictions. We each need to be fully convinced in our own minds. Whether we practice a liberty or set aside a liberty, may each be done as unto the Lord.
- I think this statement says it best:
"My practice sets a precedent and an example for others. Those who are weak in faith may be influenced by my example and encouraged to violate their own convictions by doing that which their conscience condemns. Thus, while the convictions I hold are a private matter, the convictions I practice are not. I am therefore free to believe as my faith and my conscience dictate, concerning Christian liberties. But I am not free to behave only in accordance with my faith and conscience. My behavior is governed by love as I consider the effect my conduct will have on others, and as I surrender my liberties for the good of my brother. Christian love does not take liberties when doing so is detrimental to others. Christian love surrenders liberties, for the good of others. Christian love does not indulge the flesh, but denies fleshly desires and appetites (such as the desire for meat, or wine) when the enjoyment of such things comes at the expense of others. How different Christian love is from the “love” of this world, which seeks pleasure at the expense of another and knows nothing of self-control and self-sacrifice."
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