What Are Personal Convictions? When Are They Appropriate?
“Convictions” & “Personal Convictions”, What’s The Difference?
Conviction is defined as a fixed or firm belief. So we Christians probably have a lot of convictions. Many of our convictions bring us into a close relationship with one another. Other convictions tend to separate us from one another. Understanding why we have the convictions that we have, can do a lot in removing walls of separation.
Why do you believe the things that you believe? “Just because,” is not good enough. “Because your pastor said so,” is not good enough. The convictions that bring unity among God’s people are “clearly” taught by scriptures. A couple of these convictions are, that “there is only one God” or that “salvation is only by God’s grace through our faith”. These are convictions that are well founded in scriptures and are without question in God’s church.
Personal convictions are different in that they are probably not as well grounded in the scriptures. They may be alluded to in scriptures and you may be convinced, but the scriptural evidence is circumstantial. There is no, “thus saith the Lord.” You may be convinced that wearing certain jewelry is forbidden. You may have scriptures that allude to this conviction, but you don’t have a, “thus saith the Lord.” You may be convinced – that’s your personal conviction.
Personal convictions are what characterizes our degree of spiritual maturity. We are all at differing levels of maturity, therefore we all have differing personal convictions. It’s great when we are mature enough to share and discuss our personal convictions with each other without becoming judgmental or feeling condemned. As we share our insights in the scriptures we may open a new perspective to one another – a perspective that may cause us to be convinced as well.
A problem arises when we allow our personal convictions to separate us from other believers. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 14, clearly teaches what our response should be in such situations. Love your fellow Christian – more than your personal conviction – and without being judgmental. Concerning convictions he further said, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.”
Another problem with personal convictions is that they often hinder us in growing spiritually. When the scriptures plainly teach us a truth, but we don’t except it because it doesn’t fit in with our personal convictions, we have made a grave mistake. The scriptures clearly teach that lying, drunkenness, gluttony, fornication………etc are sins. We should be convinced of the sin of such acts by the clarity of the scriptures. But if we justify our lying, drunkenness, gluttony, fornication……etc calling it a “personal conviction”, we sin. Willful sin – sin with knowledge of it’s wrongness – carries with it grave consequences.
Personal convictions are a part of the growth process of all of us. But we must remember that they are written in pencil, not ink. As we grow in knowledge many of our convictions will be challenged. Know when to let go and when to hold on.