A traveling preacher in pioneer days asked a backwoods woman if she had any religious convictions. She said, “Naw, nor my ole man neither. He was tried for hog stealin’ once, but he warn’t convicted.”
Some people understand the word conviction about as much as this woman did. Yet conviction is the very heart of what motivates us to live the Christian life. Conviction is being convinced and really believing. It is the assurance and confidence of true Bible faith. What is faith? The essence of faith is conviction. It is being genuinely persuaded. The American Standard Version gives a good translation of Hebrews 11:11: “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.”
Conviction drives a person to be baptized. When the eunuch asked about being baptized, Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:37). If a person really believes in heaven and hell, how can he keep from obeying the gospel?
Conviction moves a Christian to stand up and defend the gospel. If a man really believes that God means What he says, he will not stay quiet when people abuse God’s Word.
Conviction motivates a person to evangelize. If he really believes that his friends and relatives are bound for the place “Which bumeth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8), he will do all he can to save them. Paul said, “As it is Written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).
Conviction keeps a Christian faithful to the doctrine of Christ. It keeps him from being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).
Conviction moves a person to give up sin. The conviction that he will stand before God will motivate him to live right more than all the wisdom human psychology can offer. Conviction keeps a man from sin. When Joseph was approached by Potiphar’s Wife, his conviction in God kept him pure: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).
Conviction is behind every area of genuine service to God. It moves us to attend all the services, give as we should, get involved in the work of the church, and order our lives after God’s will. Do we wonder why people in the church don’t act like they should? The answer is simple: there is a lack of conviction. The stronger the conviction, the greater the service.
God help us to “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).