Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make Your Convictions Those Of God

Our most recent election was charged on a number of issues. For some things have calmed down, but for others they haven’t as things that they hold close are challenged in various ways by our government and our courts. The issue of gun rights, which is protected in our second amendment, is foremost now because of some recent and very grievous tragedies. But is it really about the tragedy, or competing convictions? There is much discussion today about protecting to Constitution of the United States, and it is a very, very important discussion. For in our Constitution we find the fabric of how we should live as a people under God. But as God is pushed out of our Constitutional picture, we find that other things are pushed out as well.

Should we really be surprised at this? Consider what people have done with another document, one which was breathed by our infinitely wise and sovereign God. Jerry Bridges deals with this in chapter 10 of The Discipline of Grace.

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
Chapter 10, The Discipline of Convictions

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

In the early 1990s the authors of a book on contemporary American society wrote, “In the 1950s and even in the early 1960s, there was something much close to a moral consensus in America…. There is absolutely no moral consensus at all in the 1990s. Everyone is making up their own personal moral code—their own Ten Commandments.”

It should not surprise us that society in general has moved in the direction of ancient Israel when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25, KJV). Western civilization has deliberately turned away from the Bible as its moral authority. Now we are suffering the consequences.

What should disturb us, however, is that evangelicals are moving in the same direction. “Four out of 10 people who call themselves evangelicals don’t believe there is such a thing as absolute truth, according 10 a Barna Research Group poll.” If this means that these 40 percent decide for themselves what is right and wrong instead of going to the Bible, then it is no wonder there is often little difference between the ethical views and behavior of professing Christians and those who have nothing to do with Christianity. Morality becomes merely a matter of one’s personal opinion. In fact, I am aware of situations where Christians were confronted about sin in their lives and responded, “That’s just your opinion.”

Let’s move closer to home, however. What about the remaining 650 percent of evangelicals who apparently do believe there is such a thing as absolute truth? Does such a belief affect our behavior or change our character? To what degree does a belief that the Bible set forth absolute truth determine that way we live? …

If we are going to make progress in the pursuit of holiness, we must aim to live according to the precepts of Scripture—not according to the culture…. To pursue holiness, one of the disciplines we must become skilled in is the development of Bible-based convictions. A conviction is a determinative belief: something you believe so strongly that it affects the way you live. … Someone has observed that a belief is what you hold, but a conviction is what holds you. So the discipline we are talking about is the development of convictions, not mere beliefs. Convictions, of course, can be good or bad, so we want to make sure our convictions are Bible-based, that they are derived from our personal interaction with the Scriptures.

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