When Joseph refused the advances of Potiphar’s wife he said, “how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Not only did Joseph believe that adultery was sinful, “great wickedness”, he also believed that God was watching him even if Potiphar was not, but it was more than just being caught that held Joseph in check. It was his conviction that kept him from committing this horrible sin and ruining his life. Joseph’s conviction was greater than any momentary pleasure that might have occurred and it protected him from falling victim to his own flesh. No one was there to guide him; just Joseph and his belief of what was right and holy.
When David cut the garment of King Saul as proof of his ability to return retribution, he lamented to his men about his inappropriate action. David had it in his hand to kill King Saul as he slept, but David walked away with a sinking feeling of regret. David said, “Who can touch the Lord’s anointed and be found guiltless?” David’s conviction kept him from taking vengeance upon his unsuspecting pursuer. While he had the opportunity to end Saul’s life, David was convicted in his own heart and it kept him clean.
Conviction is defined as a firmly held belief, but you won’t hear it used very often. The entire concept of such a thing has waned in the last many years. People are mostly adverse to self-imposed barriers. We like the free, open range that opinions, pleasures, and emotions offer. It feels so much better to do what you want without those nagging voices reminding you about your infractions. We don’t want to be constrained by the boundaries that convictions impose. It is clear that our generation has abandoned Righteousness and taken up pleasures.
Yet a person without conviction is usually someone who is susceptible to temptations. They lean into moral decline, pulled by the attraction of lustful things. They drift into fields filled with fleshly desires because there are no fences to keep them guarded. Ultimately, in every case, a conviction-less life will lose out with God and turn away from truth. In every case, those who have no customized boundaries will also dismiss holiness.
The scripture commands us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” It means that we must be sober and careful to live a life pleasing unto the Lord. It means that we must guard our hearts and minds, even making a covenant with our eyes as Job once wrote. It is my experience that convictions come from time spent in prayer. As we see our Holy God more clearly, it provokes us to live differently. We stop asking if what we’re doing is a ‘Heaven or Hell issue’ because we want to stay as far away from the world as we can.
I’m calling on all those who have ears to hear: We must restore our Convictions that keep us and guard us. Where did they go? Did modernism or hypocritical people cause us to nullify the very things that brought us to this point? I pray that we will go back to those old landmarks and restore the fences that kept us from following the world. We must make our Calling and Election sure!
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole