And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2—NKJV)

“Conviction” comes from the root word “convict” and it carries with it the colorful imagery of someone who is a convict dressed in striped prison garb. To convict means to convince, as in prove a person guilty, thus leading to declaring a person guilty of an offense. This is what our conscience does when we have violated its strictures by causing a growing awareness of, and a self-convincing of, personal guilt. The proven guilt becomes a strong belief. It is no wonder that “convict” has a judicial meaning that carries over into a personal meaning—personal convictions which must not be violated. Spiritual convincing, and therefore conviction of sin, is impressed upon our heart by the Holy Spirit’s ministry, just as He is active in building up our hearts with spiritual convictions of which He convinces us through the instrumentality of the Word of God.

Convictions are concerning things that are wrong, things that are right, and things that simply “are.” Being convinced of things that “are,” such as eternal verities (i.e., revealed truth in the Bible and the commands of our Author and Creator), rightly lead to recognition of things that are right and things that are wrong. Genuine convictions may be identified as things that are worth teaching someone else for reasons that are easily identified. Though we may more comfortably call them “personal convictions,” the reality is that they are not really biblical convictions unless they can be “taught and caught”—because convictions are imperative in nature, for all men, universally. Anything worthy of being called a conviction can generally be demonstrated as necessary for every man’s safety and success in life.

Convictions, by definition, cannot be negotiable, though they may be wrong. Convictions must be arrived at after careful deliberation and investigation. To be clear, convictions are not opinions, but they certainly will lead to the formation of opinions. Opinions better resemble preferences than convictions for they arise from varied sources rather than thoughtful research, and so are more apt to be negotiable. No one can ever logically say with any intellectual honesty that a conviction is a “notion,” ever!

Honest opinions are tempered by humility. Humility tends to mute opinions while its effect on convictions makes them winsome. Humility tends to motivate the holder of the conviction to research and confirm his convictions, and then to disseminate his discovered truth so that others may profit from what he has learned. When holders of either opinions or convictions lack humility, they lose their usefulness to others for anything of informative and instructive worth. Arrogance is always self-defeating, if nothing else. Authentic, biblical convictions must be honestly obtained, gratefully held, faithfully observed, and humbly communicated.

It is a prime requisite to revisit and reemphasize those things that are the driving convictions for your life. Interestingly, the Greek word translated by “convict,” and its minor variations, is elencho—meaning: to convict, confute, refute, usually with the suggestion of putting the convicted person to shame, by word or by action (Vines Word Studies). The idea is borne out in verses such as Titus 1:9, “ Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict,” and verse 13, “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” Ephesians 5:11, 13 reads, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”

Colossians 2:6–7 reads, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built-up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Right now is a good season in your life to catalog and evaluate your convictions. Weigh each one to see if you are living out opinions instead of steady, God-authored convictions. Prayerfully thank God for the light you have from His Word from which the convictions have arisen, and with a humble heart ask Him to help you communicate those convictions both in word and in practice to those who are watching you! Trust and obey.