Tom M. Roberts
Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary says of "conviction": "The state or condition of being convinced or fully awakened to awareness" and "a doctrine or proposition which one firmly believes" and "a fixed belief." This word stands in opposition to and different from the attitude of unbelief or compromise. I fear that the church of our Lord today is suffering from a lack of conviction.
While it is true that the revelation of God came through the apostles and they were absolutely essential to the beginning of New Testament Christianity, it is also true that the bedrock of the early church were men and women of common ancestry that held conviction about service to God. These were the men and women who "took joyfully the spoiling of their possessions" (Hebrews 10:34), because they had "a fixed belief" concerning truth. They suffered, bled and felt pain just like any who are human, but even in the face of all this, they could not be swayed from their convictions. Their conviction was greater than their inconvenience.
In our day we have seen mass digressions into liberalism because some love their convenience rather than conviction to God. They want to be part of a large church, one that is "on the march" and respected in the denominational world. Some brethren look around them at the small, struggling groups of faithful disciples who are in the minority by virtue of their conviction and are not willing to pay the price to stand with them. Countless thousands have taken the easy way into error and apostasy because they don't have enough conviction to stand up and be counted. It is easy to get lost in a big church, sit on a pew and blend with the crowd. It is easy to stifle one's conscience when error is preached and supported and say that your single opposition won't count for much. In just such a fashion has the vast majority of churches of Christ entered the mainstream of denominationalism.
There are others who have no conviction against worldliness. They seem to think that lust and evil desire is something that affects others but will not bother them. So disciples of Christ wear skimpy bathing suits, shorts and other modes of immodest dress, refusing to understand the evil nature that is stimulated by such. Just as surely as Bathsheba will have to bear the guilt of her immodest behavior, so also will members of the Lord's church today have to bear the guilt of producting impure thoughts in the hearts of others when they wear immodest apparel. The nature of sin does not change merely because one is a member of the church. When Christians swim publicly in skimpy suits or are seen in the public in short shorts, they are guilty of immodesty. Brethren, we need some conviction about modesty! Sure, we understand that almost everyone else is wearing nearly next to nothing these days, but a compromising spirit won't make it right.
It is ridiculous for young girls to walk the streets and go to swimming pools nearly nude and expect boys to remain unaffected. The natural appetites of a man are aroused unduly by such things. Brother Wilson Coon, now long passed from this life, used to preach that any girl who went about half dressed was merely "advertising her product." This is plain language, but we need some conviction today about such matters. It is distressing to me to see a church advertise itself as "sound" (healthy) on doctrinal matters and then let its members walk about indecently dressed. Surely that is not healthy! It would be profitable to do some Bible study on modesty, chaste, shamefacedness, etc.
God's people must be a people of conviction. We must have not only an "awareness" about things but also a "fixed belief" about spiritual matters and not be afraid to stand for these things. We must not be among those that "shrink back to perdition" (Hebrews 10:39), but of those who "have faith to the saving of the soul." Brethren, know the truth! And when you know the truth, stand for it! To sell out for convencience is to sell out your soul let there be no mistake about this. It may well be easier to go along with the crowd today but you will stay with the crowd at the Judgment Day, right on into eternity! How does your conviction measure up?