Convictions, Opinions, and the Truth

Truth is always under attack. In today’s culture, it’s easy to find people who say things like, “That may be true for you,” “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me,” or “It’s different for me.” As Christians, we know that God’s Word (the Bible) is true, and it’s true for everyone, regardless of age, gender, history, and point in time. Most of those who would argue against truth do so because they are at a crossroads with how they previously thought or lived. When our beliefs are confronted as false, it tends to cause discomfort and defensiveness. Our opinions that we cling to are under attack.

And that’s exactly what they are. Opinions. Our beliefs are influenced by 3 things: Truth, conviction, and opinion.

What is Truth?

Truth is unchangeable. Otherwise, by very definition, it could not be truth. According to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, truth is: “Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The true state of facts or things.”

Looking through the lens of Scripture, we see the true state of things. The truths in God’s Word have not changed in validity over time. It says in Romans 2:15 that we “show the work of the law written in [our] hearts, [our] conscience also bearing witness, and between [ourselves] [our] thoughts accusing or else excusing [us].”

God has written the truth on our hearts. When we think and act contrary to that truth, we are building up wrath and judgment for ourselves in eternity (Rom. 2:5). And our conscience bears witness against us (v. 15). This brings us to conviction.

What are Convictions?

Based on truth and guided by the Holy Spirit, sanctification, and our consciences, convictions tend to differ. Not on the most basic level, which is truth, but on secondary issues. If it’s an issue that would convict you, it is a conviction for you not to do it. In these types of issues, you are convinced that it is wrong. To betray a conviction is sin. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” To do something even when you are convinced it is wrong is sin. To someone else, it may not be wrong for a whole host of reasons, but for you it is. Again, this is in relation to issues not explicitly stated in Scripture. Convictions may be different, but truth stays the same. Do not judge someone else’s convictions based on your own. Convictions may also change over time and with maturity. Romans 14 deals with this issue in more detail.

What are Opinions?

Now we come to opinions, the minor judgments of life and eternity that guide daily decisions and preferences as well as cause the pettiest of fights. Opinions are staked in worldview but may change with the wind. Every human has opinions on most anything he or she is presented with. Our opinions have no claims on Truth and aren’t automatically sin when we act in violation to them like convictions.

According to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, opinions are “The judgment which the mind forms of any proposition, statement, theory, or event, the truth or falsehood of which is supported by a degree of evidence that renders it probable, but does not produce absolute knowledge or certainty.”

To summarize, Truth never changes, therefore we can stand for it and defend it. Convictions can be defended for our own lives, but can change depending on how the Holy Spirit guides us. Opinions are uncertain and are constantly being tested, which makes them the easiest to argue about because few can actually prove that their judgment on the issue is correct.

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