Charles Stanley - Your Personal Convictions
What convictions do you hold that you will not give up, you will not surrender, you will not deny? What convictions? And if you'll think about what the Bible teaches, every person should have basic convictions. And God gives us convictions to guide our life, to protect us, to motivate us, to be our best, to live a godly life. And if I should ask you, "Do you know what your convictions are"? Some of you might say "Yes," but probably some of you would say, "Well I hadn't thought about it".
Well, listen carefully. Your convictions define who you are. Your convictions reveal who you are: the way you think, choices you make, decisions you make, which way to go, how to spend your money, how you relate to others. Your convictions are a major part of your life.
And the title of this message is "Your Personal Convictions". And I want you to turn to Acts chapter four for a moment for a little background here. Peter preached this awesome sermon at Pentecost. Three thousand people were saved. And then he's preaching again but Peter and John walk up to, going on their way to the temple and see this fellow who's paralyzed. And there he lays and so he was expecting to receive from them something that would be helpful. "But Peter said to him, 'Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I unto you in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!'" And that was his word. He got up. The Bible says he didn't only walk but he rejoiced all the way to the temple. They were having a big time rejoicing about what the Lord had said to him.
Well of course, the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the councils, they had a big to do about what this was about this resurrected Jesus. And so, they put Peter and John in jail. Then they questioned them again, and warned them not to spread this ideology, this belief system about this Jesus the Nazarene healing this man. And then in this fourth chapter, and beginning in verse seventeen, the scripture says, "'But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in His name.' And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus". Now listen to this, "But Peter and John answered and said to them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge. For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" We've seen it, we've heard it. No denial.
So, I'll ask you a question: what convictions do you have that you absolutely will not deny, you won't give up, you won't compromise in any way? It's part of who you are. It's deep down inside. It's there because God has done something awesome in your life. And you're not about to compromise it under any condition. Well I want us to think about some, several things here. And I want us to clarify the meaning of conviction because conviction means one of three things at least, I'd say. For example, a person can be convicted of a crime that they've committed. They go to court and they end up in prison or lose their life. Then there is a conviction of our beliefs. This is what I believe. This is my conviction. I believe that Jesus Christ is the resurrected Son of God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven... and whatever your convictions may be.
And then there is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And in John chapter sixteen and verse eight, if you want to look there for a second. Listen to what happens in this eighth verse, sixteenth chapter. The Holy Spirit has been promised there and the eighth verse says, "When He that is the Holy Spirit, when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment". That is convict us of our sin, convict us of the righteousness of Christ that made it possible for Him to die for our sins, and then of judgment that is to come. And so, we think about conviction in those three aspects.
So if I should ask you, "What are your convictions about your Christian life? Does it limit some things in your life? Does it cause you a little bit of discomfort when you tell somebody, 'Well, this is what I believe.' Are you prone to sort of compromise in the midst of a crowd? What kind of convictions do you have"? So, I want to also distinguish between, I want to distinguish between a conviction and a preference. In other words, a conviction is that solid immovable belief that we have based on our confidence in the Word of God. A preference, watch this, watch this, convictions, you don't change. Preferences, we do change.
For example, a preference is something maybe that I believe now, but I could be convinced that there's something better. Or I could be convinced in this particular situation, I'm willing to disobey what I believe. Preferences is not what you and I live by. We live by convictions. Preferences is for those who say, "Well, I believe this today, but I could believe that tomorrow". That's not a conviction. I believe this in this kind of situation, but if I ever got in that kind of situation, I don't know what I'd do. That's a preference. Christians are to live by conviction.
So, I want to give you a definition of conviction. Read it and then please write it down. Having convictions is being so thoroughly convinced that something is absolutely true that you take a stand for it regardless of the consequences. Look at that. Having convictions is being so thoroughly convinced that something is absolutely true that you take a stand for it regardless of the consequences. That ought to be our attitude about the Word of God; about the Lord Jesus Christ, and what this book teaches from Genesis to Revelation. We should have a conviction about it. We should have a conviction about what we believe and how we're going to live out our life and how we intend to die. And that is a relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, convictions are based on principles. Here's what the Word of God says, that's what I believe. Preferences are based on coming and going. And people who live by their preferences, they'll believe this today and that tomorrow. It depends upon the circumstance. It depends upon what the offer is. It depends on what the temptation is. And so, you never know where a person is who lives by preference. Preferences come and go. Convictions are solid straight lines. This is what I believe and this is the reason I believe it. In which category do you fall? You live by preferences or you live by convictions?
So, when I think about that, I think about what are the characteristics, for example, of a person of convictions. So, we look at Peter and John, they had seen the Lord Jesus Christ personally. He was in their heart and life. They're defending Him. He just preached this awesome sermon, but now they're on their way to the temple for prayer. And they see this man that needs to be healed, and notice what Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene..." Let there be no question about who we're talking about. Jesus Christ the Nazarene he said "Get up. Walk"! And he did. How could he ever deny the awesome power of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? He could not.
So when I think about the characteristics of a person's convictions, it's certainly evident in their lives. And so, I want you to jot these characteristics down and ask you to think in your own life: "Would this be true of you"? And the first one is this. A person with a sense of conviction is a person who lives with a sense of purpose. There's a purpose in their life. They know where they're headed. They know how they're going to get there. It's a walk of a definite path. They have convictions. There are certain things that fit my life. There are certain things that absolutely do not. If you believe this Bible, you should not have any question as to what are godly convictions and what are sins that are around us everywhere.
The second characteristic is this. Faith in God to enable you to live out those convictions. And if you're a person of conviction, you have faith. You have faith in the truthfulness of the Word of God. You have faith in who Jesus Christ is, that He's the Savior, rose from the dead and lives in the heart and life of every single person who trusts Him as their personal savior. You have definite convictions. And you live them by faith, faith in the Word of God.
The third characteristic is courage when challenged by others. I could ask you what your convictions are in church today. If I said, "Would you stand up and tell me your basic convictions"? You just hop right up and tell me all the things that you feel comfortable about saying in church. And you go to work on Monday morning and you're standing around by five or six people say, "You know, I don't get these Christians. I don't get this Bible. They're so narrow-minded. They believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven". Then what would you say? Would you quietly sneak off or would you stand to say, "Here's what the Word of God says. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I would never compromise my lifestyle"? Which would you say? It depends. It depends upon how much courage you have.
Another thing that would be true of you, and that is you keep the big picture in mind. When you're challenged with your convictions, you keep the big picture in mind. This is the big picture. If I yield and I surrender my conviction and I deny what I really and truly believe, what is the long-term effect in his life, her life, their life? Who watches or listens to me deny what I say I believe? And so, when it comes to the characteristics, keeping the big picture in mind. And I would say to you who are parents, in Jesus' name you need to teach your children very early in life basic biblical convictions. If you just let them do what they want to do, it's because that's the way you live. God help the parents who don't have any more love for their children than to let them go any way without giving them biblical convictions by which to live.
God placed it in here for our safety, for our protection, and for our guidance to live a godly life. So, you either just wallow around the way the world lives, or you have the courage to live a godly life, the right kind of life. And you know what the right kind of life is. Then of course, a person who has real convictions has unusual strength. And let me tell you why. Because when you were saved, the Holy Spirit came into your life and sealed you as a child of God. That's why we're not worried about being saved and being lost. You can't be. You're saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Listen to what He says, "He sealed you, He sealed you unto the day of redemption," till He brings you home to Himself.
You're a child of God. And so, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. What is the work of the Holy Spirit? The Bible's very clear. The work of the Holy Spirit is to enable, enable you to understand truth, enable you to have the physical strength, spiritual strength, mental, moral strength to do what is right. The strength to be able to understand what the Bible says and why it says it. The strength to stand when you're tested and tried and in danger. The Holy Spirit is there. Listen, and He said, "When I send the Helper". You have within you the Holy Spirit who will enable you, strengthen you, guide you, lead you. You're not alone. And someone says, "Well you know, I live among people or I work among people and I feel all by myself". Forget it! If you're a child of God, you can't be all by yourself. You are sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And He's promised to be with you for whatever you need. And so, there's going to be a strength that amazes me.
You say, "Well you know what, I didn't know I really had it to stand up like that". Yes, you do. And then of course, you'll have foresight. When the Spirit of God is living within you, you'll have foresight. You'll be able to see things that look like they're one thing when they're another. And you'll see, you'll be able to discern deception and know that what you're seeing is not right. What you're seeing is a lie and the promises are lies. And all the things that the world throws at you that promises you joy and peace and happiness and prosperity and, and all the rest of it, which is one big satanic lie. And I can tell you I have watched a generation of people come along who care very little about morality. This is the society we live in.
So, let's just think for a moment, why do we compromise our convictions? Why for example, in your office or in your school or whatever maybe in your own family. Why do you, when you know what's right, say, "But I'm going to do it anyway". Why do we sacrifice our convictions? I think there are four basic reasons and here's the first one. Fear of criticism. You go to work tomorrow and they're talking about drinking or they partied all night long and "I'm married to this one, but I sure had a good time with that one last night". What do you say? Would you say to them, "That's not a wise way to live".
And so, because we have a fear of criticism, here's what we do. "Well, you know, I do understand everybody's different". That is not the answer. "I understand that everybody has his right and her right to think what they..." well, they do have that right. But that's not what you should say as a believer. What you should say is, "Have you thought about how God feels about what you're doing"? "Don't give me that God stuff". "I'm going to give it to you anyway". And you know what? Because your motivation is to help them. It is amazing to me to listen to people's conversations, that is absolutely ungodly and want to be sure that nobody objects because they have a right.
Listen, and they do. "I have a right to believe what I want to believe". Yes, you do. And I have a right and the responsibility of at least telling you there's another way. And the other way is God's way. That's our responsibility. But, fear of criticism. Then fear of failure. Some people won't hold to their conviction because they think, "Well, suppose I fail. Suppose I, suppose I give in. Suppose, suppose my friends will leave". In other words they've compromised their conviction because they will fail in their relationship to be the kind of friend they think their friend needs, friend wants. Listen, we're to be the kind of friend that our other friends need. They may not want us, but that's who they need.
And watch this. Most people are not willing to stand up for their convictions for fear of failure in some point. Fear of criticism and fear of rejection. Fear of rejection. "Well if I, if that's what I believe, they won't let me be a part of this. They'll reject me". Well guess who was rejected, Jesus, Peter, Paul, you name it. You're going to be rejected by some. Let me ask you a question. Had you, watch this, had you rather live in a way that pleases Jesus Christ and follows His commandments and do the things that He would have you to do because He has the best plan for you? Had you rather have that and have a little objection and rejection or had you rather just give up all that God has for you to please a few?
Suppose you make decisions to please somebody that you're not going to see after next year or after next month. And you make a decision, an immoral decision and you're not going to ever see them again. Would you not agree that is absolutely foolish and stupid? That you sacrifice your purity or whatever it may be for somebody that you'll never see again. That's what compromise is all about. Whatever happens to our convictions? And then of course, fear of loss. If I stand for my convictions, I may lose my friends.
Listen, watch this: they are not your real friends, true friends if you have to disobey God in order to run with them. They're not your friends. And not just kids, adults. Adult women, adult men. "Well I've got to do thus-and-so because so-and-so believes this and if I'm going to be a part of that wonderful, awesome, rich crowd, then I've got to believe what they believe". No, you don't. "Well they won't have me as a friend". They're not your friends. Listen, anybody who's pulling you away from Jesus Christ is not your friend, whoever they are. And so, I would say to you, in this generation, it's time for God's people to take a firm, strong, godly stand and let the consequences be what they want to be. But you and I want to face the Lord Jesus Christ having been faithful to Him and to His Word, no matter what.
So, I ask you a question: what convictions do you have that you will not surrender, you will not give up and you will not deny? One of these days you're going to meet the Lord and give an account for your life. A person of strong godly convictions can make an awesome impact upon their friends, upon their business associates, whoever it may be. We're to be godly people. We're to have strong convictions based on the Word of God, not based on some political opinion, not based on some opinion of some club somewhere. Our convictions are to be based on the Word of God. Because those things are going to pass away. They going to pass away. The Word of God will never pass away.
And I want to challenge you to examine your convictions and ask yourself the question, "What are my convictions? What do I believe? And what do I believe that I am strong enough to believe and make known, knowing that I'll be rejected". So, what kind of life are you living? You say, "I'm living the kind of life I want to live". Have you thought about the consequences of the life that you're living? More than likely, if you're living without Jesus, you won't be happy or satisfied with the consequences that you're going to find in the future. My prayer to God for you is this: stop and think, where are you going to spend eternity? Stop and think, what is your relationship to Almighty God? You say, "Well I don't believe in God". Sorry, you may not believe in Him but He's still there. What is your response to Him?
The wisest thing you can do, you may have to say to Him, "God, I don't understand a lot of this, but I do want the best for my life. I know that I've sinned against You and I know I need to be forgiven. And I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins. And the preacher said that You died on the cross and paid my sin debt in full. I believe that. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins and to save me today, dear God. Show me the kind of commitments that I need to make. Show me the kind of convictions I need to have. And he said the Holy Spirit would help me. I'm asking that You would let the Holy Spirit so work in my life to make me the person, God, You want me to be, no matter what the consequences are". You make that decision and your life will change and it'll be changed for good. Amen?
Father, we thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to enable us in those difficult times. And we pray that You will help each one of us to be very clear about our convictions. Not try to cover them up, not try to hide them nor be willing to change them to please others. But because Your Word teaches very clearly how we should live our life. Enable us to live it out unafraid, courageously, boldly all life long, bringing You honor and praise in Jesus' name, amen.