Word On Worship – Sunday – October 2, 2022
“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.”
We all have our convictions. Sometimes others may wonder about them, and sometimes our convictions may be detrimental to others. Personal convictions are very important to the apostle Paul. Three chapters are devoted to this subject in 1 Corinthians (chapters 8-10) and nearly two chapters to this same subject in Romans (14:1-15:13). Although the term “conviction” is found only in Romans 14:22, the expression “personal convictions” best describes the areas of difference among Christians which threaten the unity of the church.
In Romans and 1 Corinthians, convictions are beliefs which govern our behavior. Paul urges us to be “fully convinced in his own mind” (14:5) concerning our convictions. Convictions here are not as much a decision concerning what is true as a decision about what we should or should not do. Paul never would have said such a thing if he had been talking about the clear moral commands or essential doctrines of Scripture. Can you imagine him saying, “Some say that we are justified by grace through faith alone, whereas others say that we must add our good works; each person must be fully convinced in his own mind”? Convictions, therefore, are conclusions we reach when there are no hard and fast answers, no moral absolutes. Almost always, these convictions are inferential—the extension of certain beliefs we hold to be true and pertinent to a given circumstance or choice.
Christian convictions are necessary because of the grace of God. Opposed to the principle of grace is that of works or legalism. Legalism has a rule for every occasion. In the time of our Lord, Judaism had distorted the Old Testament Law so that the Law became nothing but an intricate system of rules. No decisions had to be made about what was right or wrong; for virtually any situation, there was a rule. Grace is different. Righteousness is not a matter of external rules nor even of external compliance to them. Grace starts with the heart and then motivates men to obey God. Grace gives men choices to make out of a desire to please God.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to be in the building business—not in the demolition business. Judging others and demanding the right to exercise our liberty, regardless of its affect on others, tears others down. In the same way, judging our brother in the matter of his personal convictions is wrong. It condemns the one God has justified and refuses to receive the one God has accepted. It sows the seeds doubts around the survival and sanctification of a brother whose ultimate standing has been accomplished and assured by God. May each of us give serious thought to our convictions. May we each be fully convinced in our own minds. And may the practice or setting aside of our Christian liberties be done as to the Lord.