Was there a time in your life where you had a clear experience of a supernatural intervention, where something happened that mere reason or science could not explain? If so, you may have called it supernatural, or just God. The question is, was that enough to convince you that God exists?
Conviction is defined as a state of mind in which one is free from doubt, decisiveness (Webster). A conviction is a belief for which you are willing to live or die and is not confused with simple belief.
How do you find your conviction?
Simple belief is based on what you were taught, read, heard, or even assumed. However, conviction is when belief meets your life experience. There were certain ideas and principles I was taught as a child, but as I grew older, life taught me otherwise. I knew some people who would give their lives for particular religious organizations, and I was one too. However, I have evolved to the willingness to give my life for the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, not a church. You see, there are multiple critical and life-threatening moments in my life when I called upon Jesus, and He saved me or rescued me – no organization has done this for me.
Martin Luther King Jr. on conviction: If a person has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live.
Here is the thing, when you search your heart and find a principle, person, or thing for which you are willing to die; you have found your conviction. What are the beliefs, principles, or things for which you are willing to die? The events in the Book of Acts show what transpires when people find conviction.
When challenged, conviction shows courage.
Healing the Lame Man
One day Peter and John were going to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So, the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:1-4:31).
What was at risk? Their lives. You know one has found a conviction when he puts his neck on the line for a belief. We also know the bible states that “the servant is not greater than his master.” Their master was executed for the same work Peter and John were doing. The whole reasoning behind the crucifixion of Jesus was that His name, legacy, and popularity would vanish after His death. Here are some of His followers displaying the same miracles, getting the same attention, and challenging the same religious powers. As Acts 4 would demonstrate, their lives were at risk as the Jews had started the same trial process with Peter and John that ended in the crucifixion of Jesus.
So, why were they so committed to the cause of Christ? If you experience firsthand, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the rushing of the Holy Spirit – like a mighty wind on Pentecost, and the resurrection of your beloved, beautiful saviour – you would understand what conviction really means. They were there for all of that. That is when their beliefs were cemented as convictions. The disciples denied Jesus during His trial, one betrayed Him, and the others run and hide during His execution, but after seeing Him for themselves after His resurrection, they became willing to die for Him. That is how experience generates conviction. Here is what matters: When your belief is consistently confirmed by your experience, do not ignore, for that is when your life defines its purpose. That juncture is where we accept conviction. But be careful because it is at that same intersection that we can choose to embrace compromise.
When tested, some choose compromise over conviction
Some consistently ignore the lordship of Jesus in their lives even though He has restored them over and over again – He has protected again and again – worked miracles for them time after time after time. In some cases, there is concrete, irrefutable confirmation of his impact. Still, some would lessen the influence of Jesus only to satisfy human desire and emotion, and that is what we deem as compromise. Compromise: to reduce the soundness, effectiveness, or perfection of… (Webster), downplaying a principle or experience even though we know it is true. Some of us have experience clear positive supernatural intervention in our lives but look the other way. Compromise is when you have irrefutable evidence of the work of God in your life and choose to do your own thing anyway.
The challenge: After Israel witness the wickedness of Jezebel and Ahab versus the miraculous hand of God. They had a choice to make. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, how long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word (1 Kings 18:21).
If you have experience God for yourself, choose him and his way. If not, choose Baal or your own way.