By Don Martin
The word “convict” or “conviction” as found in some translations of the New Testament is usually translated from two different words in the original. The original has the meaning of convicting in the sense of confuting or refuting something or someone for the purpose of putting it or them to shame (cf. Jn. 8:46, “convicteth,” ASV). This is one of the primary meanings of our English word “conviction.” Example: John Doe was convicted of a felony–he was refuted for the purpose of causing shame.
We (English) use the word “conviction” in another way: to be fully and firmly convinced or persuaded and, therefore steadfast in one’s stand. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly,” Peter commands, “that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). “Know assuredly” conveys the action of “conviction.” Currently, many in the world and some in the church view Christianity as a convictionless system. Such language as, “it does not matter what you believe,” “we should not speak of right and wrong,” “preacher, don’t preach on that – some don’t like it,” “we don’t believe in arguing religion,” and “just preach the man, not the plan” are all indicative of the absence of true conviction. However, the Scriptures abundantly and irrefutably advance the thought of conviction (Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 15:58; 16:13; Eph. 5:10, 11; 6:14; Phil. 1:17; Col. 2:6; 1 Thess. 4:3; Jude 3; 2 Jn. 9-11). Let us now briefly examine some areas in which we urgently need conviction:
Holiness Of Life
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved,” Paul writes to the Corinthians, “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). We desperately need to be fully persuaded and take a consequent stand in the matter of modest apparel (1 Tim. 2:9); speech (Eph. 5:4; 4:29), and places we go for “recreation.” We need to shun “dancing” and social drinking (Gal. 5:19-21; Prov. 23:31, 32). We need more conviction in the kind of movies we see in theaters and on television, what we read, and the kind of “music” to which we listen!
Regarding The Faith
More and more, the philosophy of compromise which is in the world and denominationalism is being found among the people of God regarding strictness of doctrine (cf. Jude 3; Phil 1:17; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jn. 9-11). We need members who insist on truth being taught and followed. Members who will uphold the hands of faithful gospel preachers as they unashamedly declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The “smooth-it-over” and “tone-it-down” demands are 6ecoring too common in too many “churches of Christ.” Brethren, such movements as “unity-in-diversity– are gaining more popularity than some realize basically because of the lack of needed conviction to decidedly stand for truth!
Conviction Concerning Marriage
Christians need conviction in the choosing of a proper mate to help them be faithful to God and to properly assist in the rearing of their children (cf. 1 Pet. 3:7). Parents need conviction in the matter of the disciplining of their children (Eph. 6:4). Wives ought to, out of conviction, stand opposed to the ungodly teachings of various women’s groups which would seek to pervert God’s teaching relative to the husband/wife relationship (Eph. 5:22-33). Moreover, we need more conviction regarding divorce and remarriage. Jesus taught that the only acceptable cause for one to divorce one’s mate and remarry another is adultery on the part of the put away mate (Matt. 5:32, 19:9). Increasingly, however, we are being inundated with false doctrines concerning divorce and remarriage which, I am persuaded, are being promulgated because of a lack of conviction on the errorist’s part to firmly stand for what the New Testament teaches.
In conclusion, compromise in doctrinal and moral matters is sinful and displeasing to the God whom we serve. Religious compromise and concession only result in more compromise. Hence, Paul emphatically wrote regarding false teachers: “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:5). Brethren, we need more conviction! (Thanks be unto God for the convicted Christians and preachers we do have.)
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 18, p. 557
September 20, 1984