Principles For Conviction

Principles For Conviction
 

Did you know that our consciences can bring judgement? Our convictions can lead others astray, and can damage our unity in the Body.

So, what is our conscience, anyway?

The dictionary defines conscience as this:
[kon-shuh ns] – (noun)
1. the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action;
2. the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.

You see this is a matter that everyone everywhere deals with. I deal with it and sometimes I’m really terrible at dealing with it. Sometimes I press my convictions on others and expect them to hold the same values as I do. When they don’t, I tend to doubt their faith. In essence, I tend to judge others. This is sin! It’s rooted in pride.

What I’m talking about is Romans 14.

This passage tells us the necessity to lay aside our conscience, or convictions, in order to enable growth in our brothers and sisters in the faith. Paul is also instructing us that some certain behaviors, which you might find sinful or have specific convictions about, may not be sinful for another believer. Likewise, someone else may have convictions about something you don’t have.

It’s not saying that consciences are bad, nor is it stating that we ought not to have them at all. We all know that the Holy Spirit convicts us and that we hold these convictions tightly.

However there is a time when we need to lay our convictions down for the sake of others. If we don’t, we will judge others for non-essentials.

The non-essentials for salvation and faith are things in the “gray area” where there is no specific command from God’s Word about how to treat a certain behavior. Things like alcohol consumption, tattoos, music & movies, diet, homeschool vs public school, etc. These are things which devoted Christians often find themselves at odds with and can end up fighting about.

Controversial topics tend to bring animosity within the community of Christ, but they are decisions which usually change with each generation.

In Romans 14, Paul summarizes this for us,  “I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” (emphasis mine)

 

Our desire ought to be living a life of godliness and holiness within the constraints of our convictions, unless those convictions cause another believer to stumble. Then we ought to lay down our convictions for the edifying of fellow believers.

If we don’t hold our convictions in these gray areas loosely, we tend to be judgmental in our thoughts toward others. We might even tell ourselves they aren’t Christians and treat them with disdain. Let it not be so, friends!

Sometimes, differing views on specific issues can rub us the wrong way, especially when we hold tightly to these non-essential convictions. Yet, these differing convictions are also the work of the Holy Spirit within the Body and we need to make room for them to be lived out, outside of legalism and judgement.

I’d love for us to think a little deeper on the subject.

1. What does Paul mean when he talks about those “weak in faith”? How can you lay aside your “matters of conscience” for their growth into mature faith?

2. How can we identify topics that are safe to disagree about with other believers?
To do this we must first distinguish the fundamentals of sound Christian doctrine to determine behaviors and beliefs that are truly sinful. Those essentials are:

  • Who Jesus is, what He came to do, whether He was raised from the dead (the deity of Christ & his resurrection)
  • Justification by faith alone, works not involved in the attainment of salvation
  • The infallibility of The Bible (which includes the rejection of extra-biblical writings upheld as ultimate authority along with it)
  • The 3 persons of the 1 God (Trinity), not multiple gods

Let us seek to build up the Body of Christ by not judging them for differing convictions on non-essentials. Instead, let us spur one another toward love and good deeds because we agree on the fundamentals of the faith, and encourage one another toward unity in those things, thus displaying God’s glory all the more in community!

For His Glory,
Holly
Holly from The Brown Tribe
Holly currently lives in Nebraska with her amazing & godly husband, sweet & smart 4-year old daughter & joyful 2 year old son. She is a stay-at-home mom who serves with her local MOPS group, and on her church’s Mission Leadership Team for missionary support. She writes at The Brown Tribe for the purpose of discipling and encouraging women and mothers. She is also a contributor for Missional Call. In her spare time she enjoys coffee, photography, exploring the culinary craft, helping combat human trafficking through awareness and is currently writing her first book. You can follow along with Holly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, google +,  and Instagram

3 comments to Principles For Conviction

  • This is a challenging topic, Holly, but I think you handled it with much wisdom. This is an area I struggle in sometimes, because I do believe many answers to these “gray area” issues can be found in general biblical principles. But ultimately, you’re correct to point out that condemnation of other Christians in these areas only leads to disunity and strife. What helps me the most is just to “keep my head down,” focusing on the many areas in which I still fall short, keeping my eyes on my own walk. That, and remembering that I can trust God’s sovereign hand leading each of His children.
    Jennifer recently posted…wake up!My Profile

  • The gray areas are hard, but as you said, being firmly grounded in our faith will help us discern and speak in wisdom. I really appreciate how you mentioned laying down our convictions, or shying away from voicing them adamantly for the sake of others. There comes a time when we are doing nothing shy of casting our pearls before swine. I’ve been a swine. But not I have the pearls. In hard moments I tend to air on the side of grace and let my life speak for itself. Walking in humility is a powerful testimony. Thank you for sharing this important topic, Holly! As Jennifer said – you handled it with wisdom!
    Kaylene Yoder recently posted…Whose Words Have Power?My Profile

  • Jen

    Self-righteousness sneaks in so easily, doesn’t it? The Father has used our latest ministry to show me that I fall prey to it much more often than I ever realized. The upside of it, though, has been learning God’s grace is so much bigger than I ever imagined, too. It’s good to have our views of God challenged and stretched at times.
    Jen 🙂
    Jen recently posted…Fighting Weight-loss FailureMy Profile

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