Let’s define our theme today:
Conviction: a firmly held belief
Persuasion: being persuaded to do or believe something
When we apply these two in a religious setting, it’s important to understand how they play out in our spiritual life.
For example: every sermon you hear is a persuasion … someone is telling you how or what to believe. The persuasion is making a case for you to consider what is being taught. Conviction, on the other hand, is a firmly held belief that may have started with persuasion, but now it has been incorporated into your belief system of what is true for you.
Persuasion can often be equated to salesmanship. I have a product, a service, or a sermon/teaching that I want you to consider, and hopefully, you will consider my product. Church is full of persuasion. The sermon is a persuasive selling of what is perceived as truth, and because it is in church, that persuasion is considered authentic.
I realize most of us do not see the sermon as persuasion, we want to believe it’s the Lord speaking to us, and I think most preachers would like us to believe that is the case. However, persuasion is not truth, it is a mechanism by which an idea is presented. Persuasion can be used to manipulate us to believe in things that are not true.
Recently, I did a podcast on discerning truth in the church, and I used some of the most persuasive speakers on the internet as examples of what is not true. Each one of these teachers was persuasive, effective, communicators who could sell the devil a timeshare in heaven. I have often wondered why people would follow a preacher who claims he needs a $64 million jet to preach the Gospel. It would seem to me that anyone who claims such a need cannot be trusted to tell me the truth. Yet, millions of people were persuaded to contribute to meet this preacher's need for a $64-million jet. Persuasion is a powerful tool and for those who are effective persuaders, they can make people believe in anything.
We can’t get away from persuasion today. We are inundated with commercials and advertisements … all trying to get our attention. The key for us is not to be persuaded to believe in something false. The Bible tells us that the last days will be full of false things and persuasion will be how false things will be believed. We know the Anti-Christ will persuade the world to believe in his ability to bring peace and prosperity to our world.
This is where conviction will play a huge part in helping us know when the persuasion of a lie is being presented. Our convictions are based upon the truth of God’s Word, and God’s Word is the standard of truth for our lives. Too often, many have allowed the persuasion of their education to rule the direction their lives will take, only to find out that it, too, has its disappointments. The persuasion that wealth has its benefits, and that being rich is a noble and honorable pursuit, but too often wealth can have a meaningless end.
The conviction of God’s love and mercy that is demonstrated to His created beings is a foundation that cannot be moved or changed. The conviction that God never changes, He never lies, He is always trustworthy and forgiving; these are the building blocks to understanding life which helps us to withstand the persuasion of the lies we encounter every day.
You may be persuaded by something that seems fearful and uncertain. My advice: “Know your convictions and trust them to be the foundation upon which you stand.” Don’t be persuaded to believe in something God has not endorsed in His Word. It is always better to follow a conviction of truth rather than a persuasion of a lie.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler