Mark #6: Biblical Conviction
Romans 4:18-22. 18 Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.” 19 Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do. 22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness.
Abraham is called “the father of us all” (Rom. 4:16). From the standpoint of faith, he was certainly the epitome of a man of biblical conviction as the book of Genesis and the above passage demonstrates. When all the odds were stacked against him, and even though at times he tried to give God a hand by taking matters into his own hands, he tenaciously held on to the promise of God.
But what exactly do we mean by the term conviction? Conviction means “the act or process of convincing,” “the state of being convinced,” or “a fixed or strong belief.” Thus, by biblical conviction we mean convictions or beliefs derived from and based on a commitment to Scripture, the Bible. As God’s Holy Word, it is the absolute index for the whole of our lives—faith and practice.
Conviction refers to the state of being convinced and confident that something is true; it means a strong persuasion or belief. In other words, conviction stands opposed to doubt and skepticism. When we think of a man of conviction, we also think in terms of action and direction. We think of a person whose convictions have a definite impact on how he lives, on what he does, says, and where he goes. By a man of biblical convictions we mean a man whose convictions are derived from Scripture and whose convictions affect him scripturally.
Biblical conviction is really the product of three things that characterize the ideal Christian leader or the person of maturity: (a) a commitment to Scripture as one’s authority, (b) the construction of specific beliefs and convictions based on that authority, and (c) the courage to act on those convictions in faith.
In the early chapters of Isaiah we see a nation that was destitute in its leadership. The leaders were viewed as adulterated, polluted, and diluted with the ideas and opinions of the world. As a result, Isaiah calls them “mere lads” and “capricious children” (Isa. 3:4, NASB). They were like immature boys who acted not out of biblical conviction, but out of caprice: from the whims and fancies of their wants and selfishly-motivated opinions. This resulted in expedient and arbitrary decisions where the end justified the means (cf. Isa. 1:21f; 3:1ff).
But what was the root cause of this failure then and now as we observe the deplorable leadership we see in our government, and far too often in the church? In place of the Word as their index for life, they had listened to influences from the East. They were religious, but they had abandoned the Word of the Lord and were a people without biblical convictions (cf. Isa. 1:10f; 2:5f; 5:13 with 20-24; and 8:16-22).
The book of 2 Peter provides us with another illustration of the necessity of biblical convictions based on the absolutes of the Word. What was the basic problem of 2 Peter? It was apostate leadership or false teachers who were leading people astray in both doctrine and in moral behavior because one always follows the other. Unrighteousness is invariably linked to ungodliness and ungodliness is linked to unsound doctrine or a rejection of the truth (cf. 2:1-3, 14f). But remember, the degree of apostasy described in 2 Peter 2 and 3 never occurs overnight; it is a gradual and sometimes almost imperceptible process, at least at first. Such is the subtlety and the danger of failing to have sound biblical convictions. It is one of the reasons immature men are never to be chosen as elders (see 1 Tim. 1:6) and why doctrinal soundness is needed in mature leaders (Tit. 1:9).
If we do not reckon with its early symptoms and protect ourselves by a right position and behavior toward the Word, we gradually become desensitized and we then become more and more open to the deceptions of Satan and the secular and profane world. It’s like the illustration of what happens when a frog is placed in a beaker of cold water and then slowly brought to a boil in contrast to what happens if you drop him into water that is already boiling. He will jump out of the boiling pot, but he doesn’t even notice if the water is slowly brought to a boil.
This is why 2 Peter 1 (which precedes the section on apostasy) is protective and becomes an important passage on leadership. Second Peter chapter 1 not only deals with the concept of commitment to the Word, its value, and nature as the God-breathed revelation from God, but it does two more things: (a) it naturally exhorts us to mature Christian qualities which are, of course, qualities essential to leadership, and (b) then warns against that constant tendency to regress rather than continue to grow and mature. Like the second law of thermodynamics, things tend to go downhill.
Remembering that a man of biblical convictions is one who is affected scripturally, let’s note a spiritual law: The Law of Spiritual Deterioration. Pollution of the Word (the mingling of our ideas, the failure to develop biblical convictions based on sound exegesis) leads to polluted thinking. Polluted living then leads to a loss of sound biblical leadership (i.e., men of biblical convictions). This leads to a breakdown in the home which in turn leads to the breakdown of society as is so evident in the early chapters of Isaiah.
Now, what exactly is meant by a commitment to Scripture? May I suggest that this includes at least three things:
(1) Recognition of Scripture as inspired and thus inerrant and the final word. The Bible becomes our index (2 Pet. 1:20-21; 2 Tim 3:16).
(2) Commitment to Scripture as our standard for thinking. Everyone has convictions, but are they biblical convictions? We must use the Word to filter everything that comes into our minds so we can bring every thought captive to the standard of Scripture. If, after careful study, they fit with the truth of Scripture, they are then qualified to be called biblical convictions. This means Scripture always takes priority over our opinions, experiences, and background. When we fail to do this we adulterate or pollute the Word and weaken its impact on our lives. A wrong understanding of Scripture will eventually necessitate wrong behavior. In other words, by the wrong approach, we can negate its authority over us (Mark 7:13; 4:23; Luke 8:18; 2 Tim. 1:13-14; 3:14; 1 Tim. 6:20; 4:6; 1:3, 11).
(3) Commitment to Scripture means a commitment to excellence in its study, use, and application. This means being careful students who seek to rightly handle the Word (2 Tim. 2:15). The higher our view of the Bible, the more painstaking and conscientious our commitment and study should be. If the Bible is the Word of God, then away with slovenly, slipshod exegesis and application; away with that tendency to insert our opinions on the text; away with ignoring the text and assuming our ideas are correct without carefully studying the Word until it yields up its spiritual treasures (2 Tim. 2:14-19).
Thus, we have three responsibilities: (1) a commitment to Scripture, (2) the construction of biblical convictions, and (3) the courage to act on those convictions.
Appendix: Discussion Questions for Marks of Maturity
MEN 7/52 is a men's ministry of bible.org. Our desire is to see all men become true followers of Jesus Christ 7 days a week/52 weeks a year.
These studies were developed in a team training environment where men were being trained for their role as church leaders, as fathers, and as effective members of a society that desperately needs to see what authentic, biblical Christianity looks like. So, exactly what does a mature Christian look like? A mature Christian is a believer whose life begins to take on the character of Christ-likeness. But what exactly is that? What are the specific qualities that mark out a person as Christ-like? This is the focus and point of this study.
The qualities that should characterize Christian leaders are also the marks of spiritual maturity as described in the Bible. While all of the qualities that will be discussed in this series are not unique to Christianity and are often promoted and taught in the secular world, many of them are, by their very nature, distinctive to the Bible or biblical Christianity. Thus, the characteristics that should mark out a Christian leader are also the marks of biblical maturity which are in essence the product of true spirituality. In fact, biblical spirituality can be described by the term maturity since Christian maturity is the result of growth produced by the ministry of the Spirit in the light of the Word over time. It is this biblical/spiritual element, at least in part, that makes the marks of Christian leadership distinctively Christian.
1. Using the text and a dictionary, please write a definition for the word “conviction”.
2. What is the definition of “biblical conviction”?
3. What stands opposite of conviction?
4. Please give a detailed description of a man of biblical conviction.
5. What three components are necessary to produce true biblical conviction?
6. Please answer this question carefully and accurately. How much time do you spend each week doing the following activities?
- Watching TV:
- Playing golf:
- Engaging in a hobby:
- On your computer:
- Reading newspapers and books:
- Taking work home:
- Reading the Bible:
7. How would you describe yourself as a man of biblical conviction?
8. Which teachings in Scripture do you have difficulty accepting or believing?
9. Are there commands or teachings in the New Testament that you believe are not relevant today? If so, which ones?
10. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
Do you believe that the only way to eternal life with God in heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Please explain your answer.
11. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Do you believe that each element of this passage is true? Please explain your answer.
12. Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).
What does it mean to be a friend of the world?
13. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety (1 Timothy 2:11-15).
Knowing that God is speaking through Paul and makes this statement without condition, please explain how the church must be obedient to this command.
14. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2:1-3).
How are false prophets infiltrating the church today and where have their teachings been adopted by today’s church? What about your church?
15. What happens when we do not protect ourselves against false teachers by a right position and behavior toward the Word?
16. In 2 Peter 1, what two components of biblical maturity are presented?
17. Please explain, in your own words, the Law of Spiritual Deterioration.
18. What three elements are necessary for a commitment to Scripture? Please describe them in detail.
19. What happens when Scripture is not a priority over our opinions, experiences, and background?
20. Group Discussion: What will you do, beginning now, to exercise your mature, biblical responsibilities in the following?
- Your commitment to Scripture:
- Your construction of biblical convictions:
- Your courage to act on those convictions: