Over the years, I’ve noticed that some so-called convictions are really more positions of convenience based on accepted positions and pressures from a given Christian subculture. I fell into this myself in earlier days. In such a setting, identity and even spirituality are based on conformity—whether an individual tows the line endorsed by the group.
Who is the real compromiser? The person with less convictions or the person who embraces so-called “convictions” under peer pressure?
The word convict means to convince. The real convincer of truth is the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). When the Spirit convinces you of a truth based on the Word of God, you must embrace that “conviction.” It will be freeing because truth sets free. To ignore the word of truth based on the convincing work of the Spirit of truth would be compromise, or perhaps more accurately, disobedience. This is not a matter of holding fewer convictions but of resisting the Holy Spirit’s personalized work in your heart.
However, if a “conviction” originates with pressure from a given Christian subculture and ultimately is based on man’s opinion more than God’s Word, it will bind. God’s commandments are not burdensome; man’s additions are (1 John 5:3; Mark 7:9). While deference in a given situation may be appropriate for the sake of corporate unity, bowing to peer pressure and embracing “convictions” that are not true convictions is compromise, even if it is convenient.
We must ask ourselves whether our “convictions” are truly convictions based on the Word and the Spirit or just conveniences that allow us to remain “in” with a given subculture.
John Van Gelderen