Most churches don’t fail because of some salacious scandal or dramatic clashing of personalities.
Rather, they decline when they slowly drift away due to the gradual eroding of the convictions of their members.
This is something we’ve seen in our lives personally. For those of us who are older, we face the challenge of keeping fresh in our hearts our original passion for God and why we live the way we do, instead of relying on habits to feel secure about ourselves and our place in the world.
For those of us who are younger, we’re faced with the decision of whether we will forge our own convictions based on the Bible, or merely acquiesce to the culture we’re embedded in.
We’ve experienced this on both ends of the spectrum, and we’re challenged by how easy it is for us to slip into a life of conflict-free comfort rather than staying sharp on what we initially believed about the Bible and how it says we should live.
Conviction is defined as being a firmly held belief or opinion, or the state of being convinced. This study will help you understand why it’s important you maintain strong convictions rooted in the Bible, and what the fallout can be if you 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 what is necessary if you’re going to stay faithful to God for your entire life. When your convictions weaken, you’re more prone to quitting
If I don’t keep my convictions sharp, I will ultimately compromise my beliefs and lead others to do the same.
What convictions have you seen erode in your life over time? What did you firmly believe before that you no longer do now? What were you once convinced of before that you now find yourself unconvinced about?
“Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” Anonymous
…having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.2 Timothy 3:5 NIV
A hollow Christian is someone who can say all the right things but have no power.
A Christian without convictions is someone who can exist 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.
3 sins that destroy our convictions
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  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 when our convictions are weak, sin is always the problem. 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 listed in this verse, it’s helpful to hone in on a few.
Without love: sin of indifference
And we are anxious that you keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, so that you will get your full reward.  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
When we get spiritually dull, we become indifferent toward God and people. Living like a Christian is no longer attractive to us.
To be indifferent is to see people go through challenges or suffering, and feel nothing about it; you find a way to tell yourself not to care or why it’s not your problem.
We get to this point the longer spend angry that we aren’t getting what we want, or frustrated that things aren’t easier
Conceit: sin of entitlement
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 is an inflated view of our importance. This sin turns us into someone who believes that what we are going through is more important than anything else
We know we’re battling conceit when we find ourselves deploying lines like “Do you know how much I’ve given over the years?” as a defense mechanism when challenged by someone to change. We think we’re above the call to sacrifice that Jesus laid out in this passage.
Love of pleasure: sin of comfort-seeking
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
Jesus said we’re foolish to ignore greed and self-indulgence, and equates them to germs: tiny microorganisms, often going undetected, causing diseases or infections
A love of pleasure is more than enjoying Netflix. It’s a relentless, unyielding craving for feeling good. We think about it all the time, can’t function without it.
With this sin, we want things that are enjoyable more than we want to read the Bible or pray. We want relief more than we want to sacrifice.
While these sins can be consuming, we don’t arrive at the point of dead or dying convictions overnight. It happens gradually and requires us to remain resistant to influence and discipleship over a long period of time. And that requires us to find ways to ignore God, and the people he puts in our lives to help us.
Do you train your friends to back off?
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,  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 be what help 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’re determined to live indulgently we can effectively train our friends to refrain from helping us by the way we respond to input or advice.
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.
The 4 resistance types: which one(s) are you?
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
- The reluctant – You are emotionally invested in your current condition and habits.
- The rebel – You don’t like being told what to do. You call your own shots.
- The resigned – You are overwhelmed. You feel like it’s too late to change.
- The rationalizer – You have many reasons why your way is best. You believe you are a special case. This wears good-hearted people out.
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
Everything that happens in our lives is meant to strengthen our convictions. No matter what we go through, our belief in God and his desire and ability to bless our lives can and should grow stronger after every trial we go through.
If we find ourselves in a spot where 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.
3 ways to rebuild my convictions
Quiet times: taking God seriously
 When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?” [20-21] “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
A quiet time is a time we carve out (ideally in the morning before we start our day) to spend time with God by reading the Bible and praying.
We won’t be able to rebuild our convictions unless we first decide that the most important decision of the day is whether or not to prioritize God. If we never make this decision, we’ll never be able to escape the empty, powerless life of the Hollow Christian.
Focus: changing my 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). But it doesn’t mean it’s a forgone conclusion that we’ll lose our faith and weaken our convictions as we go through them.
Instead of getting bitter and self-indulgent when you face difficult life circumstances, take this scripture to heart and decide to 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.
Friends: building 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, it’s worth it to build relationships with people who will unabashedly tell us the truth. 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 you see for yourself in your life? What areas did you once believe strongly in, but no longer see as necessary or important?
- What sins do you see have most eaten away at your convictions? How?
- How would you describe your friendships right now? What’s the ratio of “truth-tellers” to “yes men” in your relationship pool? What methods of resistance do you most frequently employ to dissuade people from engaging with you?
- What life circumstances are you currently going through that could be opportunities of growth? How could God use them to make you stronger, and be an influence in someone’s life?