From Belief to Conviction
History is filled with names and accounts of Christians who stood strong for their beliefs in Jesus Christ—even in the face of torture and execution. They chose death for what they believed rather than renounce their firm faith in God. What strikes fear in the hearts of those who have gone before us today is that we will fall prey to the cultural pressures and make wrong choices, bringing pain and suffering to our lives.
We today are faced with unprecedented pressure. We are exposed to temptation, violence, alcohol, illegal drugs, and a variety of influences that threaten to undo all that has been taught. Understand this about yourself, the way you behave comes FROM something. Your attitudes and actions spring from your value system, and your value system is based on what you believe. Research shows, for example, that teens who BELIEVE that premarital sex is morally right are far more likely to be sexually active. Their beliefs shape their values and their values lead them to exhibit specific attitudes and actions. What’s disheartening is most people don’t even hold to a biblical belief system. People who come from solid Christian homes and churches have distorted beliefs about God and the Bible—beliefs that are having a devastating, rippling effect into every aspect of their lives.
It’s not that people today are rejecting Christianity as they know it, but they have simply been influenced to redefine it per the cultural setting. Today’s culture encourages people to “figure it out” themselves, and what most are “figuring out” is a little truth here and a little error there until they end up with erroneous beliefs. For the most part, many church and parachurch leaders have become group facilitators rather than teachers of scriptural truth.
Today many individuals feel no need to discuss such abstract ideas as the absolute truth of God’s Word. They see little reason to grapple with what they believe about Christ and why. They no longer see the wisdom and practicality of a life built on biblical principles of right and wrong. Many have bought into a cultural mindset that says we work out our lives independently of God’s absolute standards of right and wrong. While many are saying, “If it works for me, it is right.” However, those with a correct biblical worldview would say, “If it’s right, it will work,” for God is “the fountain of life, the light by which we see” (Psalm 36:9).
In centuries past, men and women found the strength to stand up for what they believed, even in the face of pressure and persecution. Joseph stood against an Egyptian temptress because giving in would be a “great sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). Daniel refused to compromise his convictions in the face of an antagonistic Babylonian culture, and Peter and John chose to obey God rather than men, although doing so invited persecution. In today’s world, simply believing the right things isn’t enough!
Earlier generations were taught right is right and wrong is wrong, and many resisted temptations and stood strong for the things they believed. Most of today’s generation have adopted Christianity not because they have found it to be true and worthy of acceptance, but because it seems to be the best option they’ve encountered so far. Merely “believing” isn’t enough. In today’s culture, believing is made out to be more of a preference based on one’s subjective feelings now. Today’s culture is completely intolerant of anyone who believes in absolute truth—a truth that exists outside ourselves; one that is true for all people; for all times and all places.
This article will continue in the February Issue of InsideOut. Until then, during this holiday season and passing from 2016 into 2017, I hope every reader will take time to consider what sustains your relationship with God? We take time to remember why God robed Himself in flesh for us. We pass nativity scenes reminding us of the miracle of His birth. Yet, how many have wavered in their relationship with Him this past year? I want to wish every one of you a Merry Christmas and happy New Year, and remember to make sure your beliefs are becoming convictions!
Chad Flowers is married to his best friend and teammate, Mendy. He’s a daddy to two incredible little girls, Jadyn and Keira, and one son, Chandler. He lives in Mesquite, Texas where he has a private practice as a licensed professional counselor and serves as pastor of Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.