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Godly Conviction vs.

Worldly Conviction
Matt 7:21
21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who
does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

The power of godly conviction cannot be denied - but it can be impersonated to the point of deceiving
those who claim to have it. I have experienced firsthand examples of this in various churches, of which I
will take a liberty to use myself as the ultimate example.

Godly Conviction or Worldly Conviction?

I, a converted atheist, have been going to church for more than twenty years. For the first 15 years of my
Christian life I never missed a day of reading my Bible, I never missed a church service, and I was late to
church only twice in that 15 year period.

I shared my faith with strangers just about every day, of which one week I invited over one thousand
people to church. I gave contribution consistently, and I increased my special yearly missionary
contribution every year.

I helped lead hundreds of people to Christ and taught tens of thousands of people. I eventually became a
minister serving the church with all of my heart.

As a single man I maintained absolute purity, and I eventually married a Christian woman, by the age of
31, with the joy of knowing that I was going to the altar, a virgin.

The Truth Revealed...

The church I am a part of, as many others, underwent a radical change in structure. The ultimate change
that resulted was the rapid decline of any attempts at accountability.

For one reason or another, accountability was the first to go, and it was very evident that it was gone.
People suddenly felt as if accountability was an intrusion on people’s privacy and no longer felt it was
their place to question or counsel. Some felt, that unless the advice was solicited they would not share it,
thinking “who wants to hear unsolicited advice anyway?”

I considered myself a man full of conviction, with a strong belief that my motivation was pure, and that
after being a Christian for as long as I had, that I had left the milk and was on a strict diet of solid spiritual
food.

The lack of accountability, so I thought, should not make a difference in my life because my convictions
ran deep. I thoroughly felt that external motivations had little to do with the devoted life that I spent so
many years building, to the glory of God.

From Bad to Worse

Well, after the loss of accountability, the first thing to go was my Bible study. I stopped studying my Bible
every day. I believed that God had never commanded us to read it every day, only to obey it daily,
therefore I was no longer tied to that rule, since in my mind it was a gray area anyway.

By that time, I must have read the New Testament about one hundred times, and read the Old Testament
half as much, so I reasoned there is enough in my head to last me a few decades. Yet, after the changes,
I thought, “If I read the Bible a couple times a week, that should be fine.” It eventually became a couple
times a month, and then, even less than that.
The next thing to go was evangelism. I thought, the Bible never commands how often I should share my
faith, only that it is a good thing to do. Well, if I don’t have to do it daily, then I don’t have to get up the
courage everyday to meet strangers, or to share my faith every time I rode the train, went to work or was
around new people.

I went from sharing every day, to sharing a few times a year. I went from having a few Bible studies with
potential new converts, every day, to having one study every few years.

The next to go was my discipline. I no longer made it to church early, but rather late. I felt, lateness was
never condemned in the Bible; it was a humanistic expectation therefore it did not matter anyway.

The last thing to go was my fellowship. Though the Bible did exhort me to encourage other disciples, and
even to do it daily, I reasoned that my wife is a Christian, and I automatically encourage her daily,
therefore there is no need to reach out to my brothers and sisters to see how they were doing and inspire
them toward love and good deeds.

The fifty phone calls I made daily were whittled down to about ten, then to about one, then to none. I
stopped calling at all and I stopped returning calls. I encouraged people at church only when it was
convenient, and eventually, I stopped that as well, going to church only once or twice a month. When at
church, the five minutes before church was over was my time to leave, because I did not want to be
bothered hearing about people’s lives and their many problems.

Where years before I was the poster child for a committed Christian, in a few months I became what I had
always condemned. Would I consider myself lukewarm? I think I was worse, especially when I was
exposed for what I really was.

I always felt I had a deep love for God, and I had demonstrated it by my radically devoted life. Yet, after
the accountability was gone, my actions revealed something that I always dreaded: that although I had
done many things, this scripture rang true in my life:

Revelation 3:1-2
… I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up!
Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the
sight of my God. NIV

No matter how devoted I felt, and how strong I believed I was, or how close I believed I was to God, once
the accountability was gone, I became a completely different person. The shameless truth that was
revealed by my actions was that after fifteen years of a radically devoted life, I did not have true godly
conviction.

I still believe I had some conviction because I did things I normally would not do, I reached heights I never
thought humanly possible, and accomplished much few others could have achieved. Nevertheless, if my
convictions could not last the test of time or the change of environment then my convictions were based
on the wrong things.

How shameful do I feel to know that all that I worked so hard for was built on the wrong foundation?
Though I gained wisdom, and habits that I still carry today, the foundation was made of sand and came
crashing down around me. After all that I did, I had nothing to show for it. As the Bible says:

1 Cor 13:1-3
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding
gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all
knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing . 3 If I
give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain
nothing. NIV

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Though I do regret much, I am grateful for what God has exposed in my life. I am grateful because God
saved me from the ultimate consequences that have befallen those who did not take warning:

Matt 7:21-23
21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who
does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did
we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'
23 Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' NIV

I use myself as an example, but I know hundreds whom I have spoken to who have shared of their lack of
devotion, lack of Bible study, lack of prayer, lack of fellowship, etc., and the alternate lifestyle they created
for themselves after accountability had disappeared.

The ultimate truth is obvious and needs to be proclaimed from the roof tops: If our lives have made a
significant change from our previous level of devotion to an alternate, different, less devoted, and
ultimately lukewarm lifestyle - due to a change in external circumstances, then I dare say:

WE SERIOUSLY LACK GODLY CONVICTION!!!

Or if we are one way in front of others, at church, at social gatherings, etc. but we are a completely
different person when we are alone; indulging in sins that we know are wrong but that we have again
become slaves to, then I dare say:

WE SERIOUSLY LACK GODLY CONVICTION!!!

Jesus, who sees the heart, had this to say about those who claimed to be godly people but were not; a
situation that, unfortunately, may be true of Christians today:

Matt 15:8-9
8 "'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" NIV

Any Christianity that is based only on external displays of piety, external motivations, goads,
requirements, external expectations, or accountability - and which cannot stand on its own two feet on a
foundation of deep conviction, sincere, and genuine inside and out, is not of God and will be put to the
test and shown for what it really is:

Matt 7:24-27
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise
man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds
blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish
man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew
and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." NIV

1 Peter 1:6-7
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all
kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes
even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed.
NIV

Even entire churches will be tested:

1 Cor 3:10-15
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If
any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his
work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire,
and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive
his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one
escaping through the flames. NIV

Therefore we must be honest with ourselves, and honest with God about where our convictions lie. Then
and only then can God create an upheaval in our lives that will establish a foundation of true godly
conviction; which will last us for eternity.

Question for reflection:

Would consider yourself hot, cold or lukewarm? What would God say you are?

Decision:

I will pursue true, godly conviction all the days of my life.

Scripture memory:

Matt 7:21
21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who
does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Practice:

Today, I will honor God by striving to fulfill His will (holding to His principles) in everything that I do.

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