THE CONVICTION OF FAITH
I grew up in a home where the word of God was taught but only adhered to when it was convenient. As an adult, my life choices reflected my upbringing. Fortunately as I matured further in my walk with Christ this improved, but I still felt my relationship was not as dynamic as it could be. This was painfully obvious, when the Lord placed people in my life who’s relationship with Him was on a whole other plane. One I desperately desired but wasn’t sure how to obtain it.
While I’m encouraged by my development with the Lord over the years, each growth period was a painful slow process. Mostly because I made it hard. So when the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Do you really believe?” I understood this wasn’t a surface level question and hopefully, this time I would not make it so hard on myself.
Christian’s Are of Varying Mindsets but Demons Are Not
You will never hear a follower of Christ say, “I have faith like a demon,” because it sounds sacrilegious, but is it? In the gospels (Matthew 8: 28-33, Mark 5:1-20, and Luke 8:26-29), we read about Jesus’ encounter with a particular demon possessed man. The scriptures tell us while Jesus was still far away and before He even spoke, the demon possessed man stopped what he was doing, ran up to Jesus, and prostrated himself. The demons possessing the man did this because they not only had faith in Jesus Christ but they also had an unwavering conviction of His authority over all things. Their understanding of Jesus’ authority was so absolute, just His presence was enough to interfere with what they were doing. And when Jesus did speak, scripture tells us they were tormented.
You will never hear a follower of Christ say, “I have faith like a demon,” because it sounds sacrilegious, but is it?
In contrast, Mat 8-10 we read about people that followed Jesus who; 1) Did not believe in His power or authority even when they witnessed it for themselves. Because he did not conform to what their ideas of the Messiah should be, they had no use for Him. 2) Were okay with identifying themselves with Christ as long as his “demonstrative faith and authority” stayed in "the box" (Mar 5:15-17). Lets’ face it, society didn’t want the power of Jesus to heal the sick/hurting, raise the dead, cast out demons, or perform any other miracles, right.? 3) Then there were believers like the Father in Mar 9:14-29 NLT, who famously uttered, “I do believe, help me with me overcome my unbelief." He had faith but not conviction and as a result, right before he was to receive his blessings, his faith failed him. 4) Finally, there were believers like the leader of a synagogue (Mat 9:18-26) and the Roman Centurion (Mat 8:5-13). Both men went to Jesus with requests. Both men had a strong faith in Jesus, and both received what they asked for. But only the Centurion received his miracle immediately, because he understood the power authority wields. The Centurion’s simple understanding and conviction in authority - even though he may not have believed in the God of the Hebrews - amazed Jesus so much he proclaimed, “I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world - from east and west - and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven… Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.”
Because you believe, It Will Happen
No one starts out with a rock solid conviction of faith, not even the disciples who were mentored by Jesus. So you should not feel discouraged if you find yourself lacking in the conviction department. Like a tree, a conviction of faith in the authority Jesus has given us, takes time to develop and mature in our lives. Consider Abraham, Gen 15:6 says when the Lord gave him a promise that he would have a son “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Yet 25 years later, when God again said to Abraham he would have a son, Gen 17:18-19 says, “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. … So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing! But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. Does Abraham's response seem like a conviction of faith in God’s words to you?
Yet Rom 4:18-25 says, “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. ... And Abraham’s faith did not weaken… Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”
Laughing in disbelief at your ability or the situation you're in is fine. It’s not our job to understand how the promises will come about. It’s our job to be “fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” Remember the biggest and healthiest trees are that way because their roots delve deeply into the soil and continue to take in nutrients year after year after year. The Abraham we read about in Gen 22:1-18, would never have been able to pass the ultimate test of his faith when asked to sacrifice Isaac, had he not experienced 25 years of building that faith and conviction in God and His promises first.
It’s not our job to understand how the promises will come about. It’s our job to be “fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”
Give As Freely As You Have Received
When the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Do you really believe?” I understood this wasn’t a surface level question. The Spirit was not asking about my faith. He was asking about the conviction of my faith in God’s words. In Mat 9:36-10:1,7-15, we read about Jesus giving the twelve disciples, “authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.” then sending them out he instructed them to “ …Give as freely as you have received!”
If I’m honest, I have to ask God to help me overcome my unbelief here. I have faith in Jesus so like Abraham I know God is counting me as righteous, but I want more than that! The bible is packed with incredible miracles just waiting to be unleashed, but I’m holding back, why? Because I have faith in Jesus and his authority, but I don’t have the conviction of faith to believe that I have the authority from Jesus to do what his word says I can do, yet.
Conviction Is Not for the Faint of Heart and Losing Is Not Defeat.
Howard Hendricks said, “A belief is something you will argue about. A conviction is something you will die for.” I understand this because I love college football. When it was announced there would be a season, I dutifully took my place before the television. Not long ago, I watched a great David and Goliath showdown. As the game progressed, the underdogs played with such determination, it seemed to me they did not realize they were “supposed to lose.”
Howard Hendricks said, “A belief is something you will argue about. A conviction is something you will die for.”
As the underdogs play undaunted by what the scoreboard said, I was struck by the thought, “How you think [especially] when you’re losing [or it appears you are losing] is what gives your enemy an edge over you, or not!” Because our beliefs feed our thought process - an average person has about 6,200 thoughts per day (study conducted by the Queen’s University in Canada) - I’m beginning to understand the importance of not only evaluating what I believe, but also how strong of a conviction I have in those beliefs (Prov 4:23).
Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart. The truth of God’s word is a double edged sword. Even when shared with love, it’s going to hurt those who hear it and they are going to react. Jesus made that perfectly clear in Mat 10:16 - 42. There will be hard times. There will be uncomfortable moments, and you are not going to win every match. Just accept that. Because people have to hear the truth before they can receive it. That’s part of the growth process, and the enemy is out to oppose every part of the process God has planned. That's why you're here, to stand in the gap and exercise your authority to oppose the enemy.