November 17, 2011

(More) Conviction Confusion

I think there's been some confusion. And if I'm being honest, I think I may have contributed to the confusion. When you come to that realization, there's really only one option: attempt to clear it up. Over the last weeks I've written several posts on "Convictions". When I use this word, I'm referring to the idea that as a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit leads us and guides us into how we should act, speak, walk, and live. Decisions aren't made flippantly by rolling dice or flipping a coin like Two-Face on Batman. We've been given the Word of God and the Spirit of God to birth conviction in our hearts over certain matters. Not only in a recent blog post, but in previous posts and in sermons, I have made the statement that there are 2 clear biblical principles when it comes to the issue of alcohol and drinking:

1. Drunkenness is a sin.
2. Drinking is not a sin.

What I need to convey in this post is simple: Principle #2 is not always true!

Romans 14 begins with Paul telling us that some of us will be convicted not to eat or drink certain things and others will sense the God-given liberty to partake of those foods or drinks AND the one person should not judge the other for their abstinence or their liberty. So when your interpretation of the scriptures is that drinking is permissible for some, and your personal conviction is that God has given you the liberty to drink, you come to the conclusion that "drinking is not a sin". While that may be true for you - if you've actually prayed over the issue and sought out the leading of the Spirit - for the person who has also prayed over the issue and sensed clearly that they have NOT been granted that liberty, for that person, to drink would simply be sin. So to make the blanket statement, "Drinking is not a sin", is a short-sighted, sometimes UNTRUE statement. This is another great example of why ALL of scripture has to be taken into account. If you read on in Romans 14, Paul also says, "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind" and that "each of us will give an account of himself to God". He goes on to say that "...whoever doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." 

Here's the skinny: If you've prayed over an issue like drinking - asking God to reveal to you what He is allowing in your life - and you sense a liberty to partake, do it with faith, and do it with sensitivity to those it might cause to stumble. But, if you have prayed over this and clearly sense a call and conviction to abstain from it, to partake of it is sin. Plain and simple.

Have you asked the Lord what He desires of you in these matters?
Are we respecting and trusting others to seek the conviction of the Spirit?

"So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."
"So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up."
Romans 14:19