Living in a social context that is more akin to ancient Babylon than biblical Jerusalem is challenging if you hold a biblical worldview. Christians are confronted with the tensions of living within the standards of scripture, while strong undercurrents pull us in the direction of secular ideologies.
There is the temptation to accept the secular in the name of “love,” wink at sin, and try not to offend anyone. Or there is the temptation to embrace that which God rejects, denying the basic tenents of the scripture.
There is a sure way to handle the problem of such temptations. It’s called convictions. That’s a word you don’t often hear.
Convictions are the values that you are so thoroughly convinced are absolutely true, that you take a stand regardless of the circumstances or consequences. A conviction is a convinced conscience. It is choosing what is right – when alone or in public – no matter what others may do.
Convictions differ from preferences. One may prefer a particular song above another, or one color above another. Preferences apply to one’s tastes in music, sports, furniture and cars, for example.
But convictions are not negotiable.
Convictions are not developed “on the fly.” They are the prepared result of our encounter with a specific truth from scripture. They are confirmed at the intersection of the voice of scripture and the crucible of life’s experiences.
The believer does not find himself giving birth to a conviction in the middle of a crisis any more than the athlete waits until game time to prepare for his contest. Convictions are the product of wise, careful, thoughtful preparation.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are good examples. The book of Daniel tells how each was asked to do what they opposed by conviction. They were prepared before they confronted the challenge.
Given the command to eat the king’s food, Daniel did not cave in his conviction that God’s prescribed diet is superior to the king’s cuisine. He was trained in God’s truth. Respectfully, he proposed an alternate diet to the king, demonstrated the excellence of his God’s plan and won the favor of the monarch.
His three Hebrew friends refused, by conviction, to bow to an idol, even under the threat of the fiery furnace. They were not willing to adjust their beliefs to conform to the evils of Babylon. The threat on their lives was real. By conviction they stood firm and faced the consequences. They not only survived, they moved others to worship God.
The story of Joseph is chronicled in chapters 30 through 50 of the book of Genesis. His life is a model of maintaining holy convictions in spite of the prevailing culture or the actions of others.
We need convictions to sustain us in this world of perpetual challenge! The secular doctrines of tolerance, individualism, universalism, secularism, humanism and political correctness are the standards of our Babylon. The one who holds biblical convictions will oppose each of these destructive philosophies.
G.K. Chesterson said “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” I will add that those who preach the other secular doctrines of the day are equally void of scriptural convictions.
In eight short verses of Psalm 101, David lists at least 12 commitments, or convictions, he has made. They include:
I will sing of God’s love and justice.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life.
I will set before my eyes no vile, worthless thing.
I will not adopt the deeds of faithless men.
I will have nothing to do with evil.
I will not tolerate the slander of a neighbor.
I will welcome the example of a faithful, blameless believer.
I will not tolerate those who practice deceit or false words.
I will daily find ways to silence the voices of evil.
If a believer is willing to build unchanging values, David’s list is a good place to start. Do you hold tight to biblical convictions? What are your convictions? Wait, don’t tell me what they are. Just live them. I believe our world needs it.