I am not asking if you have a criminal record! I am asking if you have Biblical standards that guide your life choices. Your convictions are a reflection of what you believe that serve as guard rails in your life to keep you from going off the cliff. One source offers this definition: : biblical conviction means convictions or beliefs derived from and based on a commitment to Scripture, the Bible. So, What are your Biblical Convictions?
Biblical convictions are essential for the follower of Jesus to live obediently. My recent message on “Live by Holiness” (you can listen here) reminded me that convictions are the follower of Jesus response to falling for temptation. Temptation for many followers is something that is misunderstood and under estimated. Let me share a few insights.
Let me begin by pointing out that temptation is not sin, but it will lead you to sin. The passage I covered this Sunday from Jesus’ temptation reminds us of this powerful truth. Jesus was tempted three times by the Devil, but did not sin. He faced temptation but did not give in. “And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”” (Matthew 4:3) Jesus did not fall for it. He was tempted yet He did not sin. Temptation is not sin. I come across too many followers that struggle with guilt and shame because they are tempted. Now, we should feel guilt and shame when we cross that line, but temptation itself is not a sin.
I need to point out that temptation appeals to our appetites. The significance of the above temptation is seen in the previous verses, “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:2) Jesus was hungry. If you were in that situation, you would also be tempted. A professor once suggested to me that hunger might be the greatest of any physical temptation. He was probably right. What we need to grasp is that the Devil plays to our areas of need or weakness. While Jesus was not weak, His hunger made Him vulnerable to the temptation. The Devil did not temp Him to turn the rock into blankets because He was not cold, but hungry. He does that same thing in our lives.
We need to remember that temptation is the bait to draw us away from God. I always think of a fishing experience when I watched a cut throat trout in crystal clear water first bob at my flashing lure before withdrawing and then striking it. James paints a similar picture, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14–15) The same think happens in your life. The temptation stirs your passion or appetite to motivate you to go after the bait.
So what does all this have to do with Biblical convictions? Well, convictions are spiritual guard rails that can keep us on the road and stop us before we go off the road. If you honestly evaluate your path to sin, you will notice that you followed a common pattern. A Biblical conviction is to help you obey Jesus’ teaching. It also serves to block you from unnecessary temptation leading to sin. For instance, Jesus’ conviction in the temptation above was that obedience to the Father was more important than His physical satisfaction. Biblical conviction on the type of media we watch, helps us to keep our thoughts pure and avoid temptation that leads to sin. Convictions, like attending church, help us to be faithful in those areas that strengthen us spiritually. It also keeps us from making the decision to stay in a warm bed after staying up too late.
So what are your convictions? Let me encourage you to identify one area of you spiritual life that needs improvement and establish a personal conviction to help you stay on track in that area.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson