i was recently listening to a podcast that i had come across on studying the scriptures (The Truth Church, Face the Truth, S4 E122: Interpreting Scripture, 2 Dec 2021, https://tcodev2.wpengine.com/media/podcast), and one of their statements interested me. the subject of personal convictions in relationship to Truth. i had not given this very much thought. my viewpoint of Truth is the Bible in its entirety. i recognize that my convictions are different from anyone else and a byproduct of mentors, congregations, and self-study. understanding the difference to self and situation is critical to preserving the doctrine and maintaining your walk with integrity and blamelessness.
first, let’s look at the definition of Truth. Merriam-Webster defines truth as 1: the real facts about something: the things that are true, 2: the quality or state of being true, 3: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true. Truth is absolute, concrete, it is steadfast; there is no changing truth. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17, KJV, Tyndale 1987). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). you cannot argue Truth; it is forever settled in Heaven. if you accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God, there should be no debating the teachings held therein.
besides truth, many categories of personal belief can be helpful. Luke Roush writes on, “1) Opinion – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. 2) Belief – an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. 3) Conviction – a firmly held and stable, long-term belief” (Opinions, Beliefs and Conviction, Faith Driven Entrepreneur, https://www.faithdrivenentrepreneur.org/blog/opinions-beliefs-and-conviction). your opinion may be useful if it is factual. if it is “based on” fact or viewpoint, opinions can quickly become misconstrued. also, based on viewpoint, as defined by Roush, is belief, but if your belief is in Truth, accepting it can benefit you in many ways. finally, when firmly held in Truth, convictions will keep you from straddling the fence and becoming lukewarm.
Romans 14 begins with an anecdote that would clarify personal convictions. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him” (v 1-3). one version ends verse one referencing, “disputable matters” (NIV). another says, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions” (ESV). you have not been through everything i have been through, and vice versa. there are convictions that i hold that help me in my journey into Truth. you may not go to places, or there may be things you stay away from that help you in your journey. these personal convictions are different for everyone. i cannot force my opinions, beliefs, or convictions on you, especially if based on personal experience. some things may be helpful if you were to travel down the same road. that is less personal conviction and more testimony…in my opinion.
convictions can never substitute for Truth. Truth spans the ages, is never changing, and will stand the test of time. the most significant variable in opinions, beliefs, and conviction is you. if your conviction negates a Truth, it is time to reevaluate your conviction. on judgment day (maybe you don’t believe in that), we will be “judged out of those things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12). we will not argue with the One who is true and just that we were not “personally convicted” over something found in Truth. i leave you with this, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).