Some of you may remember the Emerging/Emergent church movement in America in the 1990s and 2000s. This movement, which continues but with less popularity today, sought to integrate elements of postmodernism with Christianity. The movement questioned the traditional ways of doing church and instead stressed humility, sincerity, and dialogue. Some Emerging/Emergent leaders went so far as to claim that Christians could never be totally certain about what the Bible says or means. Surety over the truth and even the saving gospel, they said, was a mark of unloving pride. Christians, therefore, should hold all their convictions with a loose and weak hand.
Based on our recent look at Romans 14:1-15:13, you might have gotten the impression that Paul thought similarly, that strong convictions are the enemy of true godliness and harmony in the church. But such is absolutely untrue. Paul presents his entire instruction from a stance of strong conviction (note especially Rom 14:14, 20); Paul commends the holding of strong convictions, even on Christian freedom issues (Rom 14:5); and Paul condemns those who proceed into any activity with doubt (Rom 14:23). Convictions, then, are not the problem. The problem is using good convictions to improperly judge others (Rom 14:1-12) or to tempt others to violate their own good convictions (Rom 14:13-23).
As Christians, we need strong convictions in order to declare God’s truth as boldly as we ought (Eph 6:19; 2 Tim 1:7). We also need to develop strong convictions on the issues of life in order to navigate those issues as good slave-stewards of God (Rom 14:4). It will not do to approach issues like dating, entertainment, or education with, “I don’t know what would please my Lord.” You need to do your best to familiarize yourself both with what the Bible says and with what the situation in the world is so that you can confidently say, “I am pleasing my Lord in this” (Eph 5:10, 15-17). Just remember that, when you arrive at these good convictions, to keep these convictions under control. In contrast to the Emerging/Emergent perspective, your hand should not be weak but both strong and gentle.
Romans 14:22b-23 (NASB), Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Questions to Consider:
1. Where in your life do you still need to develop thought-out, godly convictions?
2. How can you discuss your good convictions with others without violating Rom 14:1-15:13?
3. What issues today pose as Christian freedom issues when they are actually Bible truth issues? Or what issues pose as Bible truth issues when they are actually Christian freedom issues?