In the Image of Christ
Colossians 3:8-11

“Convictions or Conveniences?”

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

        Years ago, a friend and I owned a small business. At the time we had one employee. We all attended the same small gospel assembly. Our employee was just getting started in public preaching. I can remember one of his first sermons, it was on the subject of faith. In his attempt to explain what it meant to walk by faith he used the example of owning life insurance. He explained that having life insurance was not walking in faith and showed a lack of trust in the Lord. He spoke about this topic with great conviction and passion.
        A few weeks later my business partner and I were approached by our insurance agent, who told us of a great deal on life insurance that was being offered on a limited-time-only basis. My partner and I decided to take the offer and purchase the life insurance. We talked about offering this life insurance policy at the company’s expense to our employee, but remembered the message he preached about life insurance just a few weeks earlier. We both thought that he would turn down the offer without a second thought, based upon his publicly known “convictions.”
        However, to our surprise he didn’t even hesitate to take us up on the offer. When we asked him about his publicly known “convictions” against having life insurance, he said that he had done a lot of thinking on the matter lately and had changed his views. How convenient for him to simply change his views at the very time he was being offered “free life insurance!” Apparently, and to his own shame, this man’s convictions were very flexible and subject to change when it suited his own interest.
        Sadly, we often come across men like this whose convictions are really nothing more than conveniences. Under the right pressures or circumstances you will find out that most men really don’t have convictions, and what they passionately claim are strong convictions are nothing more than conveniences. I have heard that in other countries some Christians under the pains of torture and death have been told to renounce the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have even saved their lives by renouncing the Lord Jesus, or so they think!

        “And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father's, and of the holy angels.”   (Luke 9:22-26)

        Yet, many others over the ages have lost their lives under such circumstances, only to find them according to the above Scripture. A man once told me, “you never know what’s in a man until he’s squeezed!” How true that statement is. It’s easy to boldly proclaim one’s “convictions” when they haven’t been put to the test. But, test those same “convictions” by trials of persecution, or by temptations of pleasure and personal gain, and one will quickly find out what one is made of, convictions or conveniences.
        When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13), he basically was telling them to be men of true convictions and to stand firm without wavering in those convictions no matter the persecution or temptation. In those days it was harder to be a man of convictions; one’s faith was constantly being tested by trial, temptation, or both. Christians were being hunted down and persecuted for what they believed. Unlike today, the term “Christian” had true meaning and purpose. If one were to be called Christian in those days it meant that he had forsaken all other so-called gods and the pagan culture associated with them, to follow the one and true God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
        In today’s pluralistic mindset, you can call yourself a Christian and still embrace the pagan gods of old. In many of today’s so-called evangelical churches occult activities run rampant in such things as prayer visualizing techniques, prayer labyrinthian, yoga, 12 step programs, psychology, partaking in pagan holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter, just to name a few. To be involved in these things ignorantly is one thing, but to continue in them after you have received the truth about them is quite another. Paul received the Lord’s mercy for his great sin of persecuting the church because he did it in ignorance (1 Tim. 1:12-17). Can you imagine what would have happened to Paul had he continued persecuting the church after the Lord Jesus revealed to him that he was really persecuting the very God he claimed to serve?
        Today’s church is suffering greatly from a lack of men of true conviction who are ready to suffer for what they believe, men who are true men, men who are sound in the faith. Today’s church is designed to meet one’s comfort level rather than bring spiritual health (“sound doctrine” means literally “healthy doctrine”). The emphasis is on making people feel comfortable, therefore you dare not preach to them the whole counsel of God, but only the things that will make them feel good about themselves. Preaching against sin and repentance is shelved because they make one feel uncomfortable and folks will likely leave for a more comfortable environment that will tolerate their laxity and sin, or worse yet, partake in it. I was shocked driving home from work one October day when I saw a sign in a church parking lot saying, “Kids come here tonight for your Halloween treats.” Halloween treats!  What are so-called Christians doing partaking in pagan holidays? Sadly, many churches partake of this wicked holiday to a much greater degree by holding their own haunted houses and Halloween parties. One must ask whose side these so-called Christians are on anyway? With their mouth they profess the Lord, but in their activities they deny Him (Titus 1:16)
        What blasphemy it is for those claiming to be Christians to partake in the celebrations and customs that belong to the devil. Where are the “true men of conviction” in the church today? Why are they not opposing such wickedness? Do they think that God has said in vain, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]” (Eph. 5:11) or that He really didn’t mean it in regards to Halloween, or any of the other holidays that honor Satan, such as Christmas and Easter? I can hear the excuses of those without true convictions already saying, “We partake of these holidays for the children”, "everybody else is doing it,” “I have Christian liberty to partake in these events,” “it doesn’t mean the same things to me as it does the pagans,” “my family won’t understand if I take a stand against these things,” “my wife feels strongly about celebrating Christmas, it’s a big tradition in her family,” and you can go on and on. But God is not looking for excuses; He’s looking for men who will be men and that will stand firm upon His Word without compromise, not those without convictions that find it convenient for their own personal gain to ignore and disobey His Word.
        Dear friend, is your spiritual life one of strong convictions, or of weak compromise and conveniences? It takes a real man or woman to stand against the currents of this world. It’s much easier to go with the flow of this world and do as the world does than it is to stand against it. If you chose to be a man or woman of conviction, God says you will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Unfortunately, most of the persecution will come from those that claim to be Christians who are so worldly that they even make the pagans blush.

        “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will  serve  the LORD.” (Josh 24:15)

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