CONVICTION OR PREFERENCE?

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:8

In Christian circles, the word conviction will often come up in conversation. And so it should, as it describes the inner regenerating work of God’s grace alone through the Holy Spirit, who brought about our salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. 

Every true believer knows personally this working of God’s grace that resulted in what may have been a time of immense emotional and spiritual struggle. Some of us can look back and remember the inner struggle of submitting to God’s Word even though it condemned us as guilty sinners, ripe for eternal judgment! 

But what joy entered the soul when true conviction won the day and our whole belief system acted upon what was written in the Word of God. It brought about repentance and faith in Jesus Christ – repentance toward God because our sin is against Him and faith in Jesus Christ who has died as our sin bearer so we might be forgiven of our sin forever. That’s what true conviction of Holy Spirit produces.

But it does not stop there. Conviction is something that should be a common occurrence in the believer’s life. The problem is, often believers substitute conviction with mere preference in areas of life that the Holy Spirit clearly instructs. Preference often masquerades as conviction and we can be smugly satisfied in letting it do so. The reason being, we fail to develop conviction. We fail in allowing the Spirit of God, through the Word to convict us on such matters. If we do not know the Word, decisions will not be based on conviction but mere preference - simply an action of human intellect. Jerry Bridges puts it like this: This is the way we develop conviction – by bringing God’s Word to bear on specific situations that arise in our lives and determining God’s will in that situation from the Word.