And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13—NKJV)

I view convictions that are firmly rooted in the bedrock of the Bible as necessary tools. They prop a believer upright in the challenging decisions of life and are gyroscopic course-correctors for navigating the options of life. Obtaining, maintaining, and faithfully observing a complete set of convictions is critical for every believer so that he may sleep well at night.

You may have heard financial people refer to the “SWAN” portfolio. The acronym stands for “sleep well at night.” A swan portfolio means that you have studied out the dangers and rewards of various investments and how they perform in different markets. Then, you have wrestled through your own risk tolerances, balancing between your long term needs and your emotional level of aversion to financial loss, and identified your choicest investment options. Finally, you have implemented your investment plan with care. Such an investment strategy ideally ought to allow you to sleep well at night and “stay the course” no matter what the market throws at you.

In a similar fashion proper biblical convictions, faithfully implemented, will allow you to maintain a clear conscience when others will lose sleep or wander off the course God has laid out for them. Maintaining fidelity to carefully crafted convictions is never a matter of pride or pretension; it is an acute sense of responsibility in humble obedience to our Lord. Faithfully rendered convictions harbor no room for spiritual smugness.

In English, conviction is an interesting word. It comes from the Latin word convincere (con—an intensifier, plus vincere—to conquer); it means to over come, to convict of error, to overcome the doubts of, to persuade by argument or evidence, to cause to feel certain, to convince. The very act of God saving you was accomplished as God convinced you of sin, righteousness and judgment. A believer’s life is forged in conviction, and it ought to be exercised with convictions as well. Developing a biblical conviction is to lay a foundation of thought for future action. In this world of moral relativism, of pagan sensibilities, and of bitter enmity against the Living God, any Christian who has diligently studied out a complete set of biblical convictions will stand out without even trying. Though he will be misunderstood by both the unsaved and believers alike, he must be ready to give answer for the faith that is within (1 Peter 3:15)! In a sense, biblical convictions will always be in direct opposition to the comfortable, fleshly numbness of the world, but will provide a soft pillow for your head at night.

Before we dig into the Scriptures, I must identify what convictions are not. They are not mere opinion, personal preference, blindness to needs, taste for the old-fashioned, nor automatism. They are not insensitivity to the plight of others around us or our own disobedience (Jonah’s shipboard story comes to mind!). Instead, biblical convictions are the application of “Thus sayeth the Lord” to current life, both for filtering and clarifying. They are discovered by engaging plain-spoken Scripture to the practical decisions of life. Biblical engagement with the culture requires a strong-handed grasp of convictions. Biblically sound “SWAN” convictions have tremendous power over your heart by exerting peace in you when the rest of your world is in turmoil, because God is in control.

The Bible word for this type of conviction is steridzo, meaning to prop, to support, to confirm. The opposite idea would be to be without strength, to be weak (Romans 5:6). The term appears many times in the New Testament where Paul sought to instruct, ground, and strengthen the churches (Romans 1:11, 16:25). 1 Thessalonians 3:2–3 reads, “And sent Timothy…to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith.”

Follow the word through the middle chapters of Acts and observe the efforts of Paul as he faithfully exercised his call from God (Acts 11:23, 26; 14:22; 18:23). Then take note of the church business meeting that had to be called in Acts 15 to address biblical convictions, including verses 9, 20, and 41. Christian strengthening depends upon solid, biblical convictions faithfully applied to daily life. Faithfully observing biblical convictions is the key to a blameless heart before God at His Son’s coming. Only such forthright obedience will allow you to sleep well at night—the power of biblical faithfulness to convictions! Trust and obey.