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Most churches don’t fail because of some salacious scandal or dramatic clashing of personalities.

Rather, they decline due to the gradual erosion of the members’ convictions.

Those of us who are older face the challenges of keeping our original passion for God fresh in our hearts and remembering why we live the way we do. It is all too easy to rely on religious habits to feel secure about ourselves and our place in the world, but this is not the same as living by conviction.

Those who are younger face the decision of whether to forge their own convictions based on the Bible, or merely acquiesce to the culture they are embedded in.

I have experienced this on both ends of the spectrum, and I am challenged by how easy it is to slip into a life of conflict-free comfort rather than staying sharp on what I initially believed about the Bible and how it says I should live.

Conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion, or the state of being convinced. This study will help us understand why it’s important to maintain strong convictions rooted in the Bible, and what the fallout can be if we choose to neglect them.

The power of conviction

But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end.

Matthew 10:21-23 MSG

Conviction is necessary to staying faithful to God for our entire lives. When our convictions weaken, we are more prone to quitting and feeling like our sacrifice for God is not worth it.

If I don’t keep my convictions sharp, I will ultimately compromise my beliefs and lead others to do the same. I will become a hollow Christian who can exist in church for a long time but lack the internal strength and power that come from living out the Scripture.

Have I become a hollow Christian?

…having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

2 Timothy 3:5 NIV

A hollow Christian says all the right things but has no power.

A Christian without convictions can exist for a long time in church but fail to produce anything meaningful in terms of positive impact in the lives of others. This runs contrary to how Jesus lived and who we are supposed to be modeling our lives after.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. [2] People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, [3] without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, [4] treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—

2 Timothy 3:1-4 NIV

A simple conviction we can all strive to restore or strengthen for ourselves is the belief that sin always weakens our conviction. Sin causes us to stop believing that the Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and makes us doubt God’s power or intent.

Circumstances may cause us to wrestle with difficult emotions, but they aren’t what cause our convictions to erode.

While we can likely relate to all the sins in the verse above, it’s helpful to hone in on a few.

“Without love”: How indifference weakens conviction

And we are anxious that you keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, so that you will get your full reward. [12] Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won’t become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience.

Hebrews 6:11-12 TLB

To be indifferent is to see people go through challenges or suffering, and feel nothing about it. We tell ourselves not to care and that it’s not our problem.

Every time we decide not to care about someone, we become more spiritually dull and indifferent. We will eventually get “bored with being a Christian,” and the Christian life will no longer be attractive to us.

“Conceit”: How the entitlement weakens conviction

Conceit is an inflated view of our importance. It makes us very self-focused and entitled. As we go through life, this sin turns us into someone who believes that what we are going through is more important than anything else.

Jesus continued to say to all of them, “Any of you who want to be my follower must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be willing to carry the cross that is given to you every day for following me.

Luke 9:23 ERV

Conceit makes us think we are above the call to sacrifice that Jesus laid out in this passage. When challenged by the Scriptures to change or stop thinking about ourselves, we deploy defense mechanisms like “Do you know how much I’ve given over the years?” We think about how much we have done for God and feel entitled to take a break rather than recognizing how much he has done for us.

“Lovers of pleasure”: How comfort-seeking weakens our convictions

Being a “lover of pleasure” means we have a relentless, unyielding craving for feeling good. We think about it all the time. Our lives become self-indulgent and self-centered, and we get angry at people who stand in the way of what we want.

Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees-frauds and imposters! You are like one who will only wipe clean the outside of a cup or bowl, leaving the inside filthy. You are foolish to ignore the greed and self-indulgence that live like germs within you.

Matthew 23:25 TPT

We can be very religious on the outside while being self-indulgent on the inside. Jesus said we’re foolish to ignore greed and self-indulgence, and equated them to germs: tiny microorganisms, often going undetected, that cause diseases or infections.

When we love pleasure more than God, we begin to crave other things more than a close relationship with him. We might lose our desire to read the Bible or pray because these things involve facing emotions that might be painful. We lose our desire to serve God and sacrifice.

Pause and reflect

  • What signs of lost convictions do I see in my life?
  • Which of the sins above am I most tempted with? How do these affect my convictions?

Have I trained my friends to back off?

Conviction doesn’t disappear overnight. If we have lost conviction, we have probably been resisting spiritual influences in our lives for some time, and that requires us to find ways to ignore God and the people he puts in our lives to help us in our faith.

Preach the Good News. Be ready at all times, and tell people what they need to do. Tell them when they are wrong. Encourage them with great patience and careful teaching, [3] because the time will come when people will not listen to the true teaching but will find many more teachers who please them by saying the things they want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:2-3 NCV

Our friends should keep us sharp in our convictions. They can remind us of what we originally believed and keep us focused on the Bible when we’re overwhelmed or discouraged.

However, when we are determined to live the way we want, we can effectively train our friends to refrain from helping us. We do this by getting angry or defensive when a friend brings something up; we make the experience so unbearable for them that they eventually decide it’s not worth paying the emotional price to be honest with us.

Once we’ve pushed away these friends, the only ones left are the ones who tell us what we want to hear. Our convictions won’t stay sharp if we only surround ourselves with people who don’t care about us enough to tell us the truth.

Four faces of resistance to conviction

And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad [to offer vain and perilous resistance].

Acts 9:5 AMPC

When we do not want to do what God wants, we offer up resistance. In my life, I have seen four different faces of resistance. Becoming aware of my resistance helps me change it.

  1. Reluctance: I could see why changing might be good, but I am not motivated.
  2. Rebellion: I don’t like being told what to do, and I call my own shots.
  3. Resignation: I am overwhelmed. I feel like it’s too late to change, and there is no point in trying.
  4. Rationalizing: I have many reasons why my way is best. I believe I am a special case. This wears out good-hearted people who are trying to help me.

Rebuilding lost convictions

It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 MSG

God wants to put steel in our convictions. He wants to strengthen us. No matter what we go through, our belief in God can and should grow stronger.

If we find that our convictions have weakened, and we no longer believe as strongly as we did at first, the good news is that convictions can be rebuilt.

Three ways to rebuild our convictions

Take God seriously

When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?” “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”

Matthew 17:19-21 MSG

We won’t be able to rebuild our convictions unless we first decide to take God seriously, and that means prioritizing him in our daily lives. If we never make this decision, we’ll never be able to escape the empty, powerless life of the hollow Christian.

One way to do this is to set aside time each day for God. A “quiet time” is a daily time of reading the Bible and praying. Ideally, it is something we do in the morning so that God can influence us all day long.

We can take God seriously by dedicating our morning to spending quality time with him, listening to his Word and humbly praying to him.

Change our view of difficulties

We view our slight, short-lived troubles in the light of eternity. We see our difficulties as the substance that produces for us an eternal, weighty glory far beyond all comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:17 TPT

We will all go through storms in life at some point (Matthew 7:24-27). But that does not mean we need to lose our faith or weaken our convictions.

Instead of getting weaker when we face difficult life circumstances, we can take this verse to heart and believe that difficulties can be the substance of glory. The more challenges we face, the greater our opportunity to rely on and be close to God.

Build engaging relationships

You can trust a friend who wounds you with his honesty, but your enemy’s pretended flattery comes from insincerity.

Proverbs 27:6 TPT

As painful as it may seem, building relationships with people who will unabashedly tell us the truth is worth it. We can trust someone who cares about us enough to risk an uncomfortable conversation if it means steering us clear of disaster.

As we established earlier, a friend who is unwilling to tell us the truth is not a friend at all. Watch out for flattery, or people who refuse to talk about anything of substance.

Pause and reflect

  • What areas of compromise do I see in my life? What areas did I once believe strongly in, but no longer see as necessary or important?
  • What sins have most affected your convictions? How?
  • How would I describe my friendships right now? What’s the ratio of “truth-tellers” to “yes people” in my relationship pool? What methods of resistance do I most frequently employ to dissuade people from engaging with me?
  • What life circumstances am I currently going through that could be opportunities for growth? How could God use them to make me stronger?
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    This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

    Deep Spirituality logo

    This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

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