Tag Archives: Conviction

Is there Anything I can Say to Change your Mind?

Any time there is a discussion among individuals in which there is disagreement, the value of the discussion is determined by whether or not both sides believe there is any kind of evidence, argumentation, or proof that could change their mind on their given belief. While it is often the case that people love to have their voices heard and their opinions known, it is far less frequent that people are actually willing to give serious consideration to the idea that they could be wrong.

However, there is one fundamental and devastating flaw to carrying the mentality that there is nothing that could be shown to you to change your mind: it proves that you are not interested in truth. You see, humans are prone to mistakes. They may be mistakes in logic, mistakes in actions, mistakes in information or any of a number of other types. If one refuses to admit the ability of his human understanding to be wrong, or of his own intuition to be misguided, then he has shown that he believes his knowledge to be perfect and incapable of mistake.  In doing so, he has made it impossible to learn anything beyond what he currently thinks he knows. It is only through the acknowledgement that one could be mistaken that growth is possible.

There are many examples in Scripture of men who changed because they recognized their own fallibility, or repented because they made mistakes, even though they carried positions of authority. It is seen in the apostle Paul and his willingness to acknowledge his wrong direction (Acts 9). It is seen in Apollos’ willingness to be instructed by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18). It is also seen in the conviction of Peter before those in Antioch because of his mistake (Gal. 2). All of these, and many others, made the changes to their beliefs and actions because the evidence stood as proof they were wrong.

Now, before you begin thinking about all of those people in the religious world who have the gall to believe something different from you and not convert to your way of thinking, consider this: could it be you that has that mentality? I have found that members of the church are just as bad as the rest of the religious world when it comes to this approach to Biblical discussion. On innumerable occasions I have discussed things with brethren, sometimes things of great consequence and sometimes nothing more than nuances of Scripture, and have been dismayed at the response received. Instead of showing proof for what they profess, or giving proof to show what I have said is incorrect, they simply respond with a dismissive statement and move on. On other occasions they will quote some other preacher’s belief, as though just because some man believed it one way that should be enough proof for anyone.

Unfortunately, some people get confused about what it means to be willing to consider another person’s point of view or argumentation. It does not mean that you do not have conviction in your own beliefs; in fact, it means exactly the opposite. It shows that you can be even more convicted in your beliefs, you have been willing to put them to the test of truth and have the evidence that shows they have passed the test.

However, when one walks into Bible studies with the attitude that he already knows it all and he is going to show everyone else what truth is, he is no longer studying the Bible, he is dictating it. He will not carry on a conversation about anything, but instead becomes defensive, combative, and vehement. He does not ask questions, or query about what proof may be brought to bear, he begins to impugn the heart and character of the other participants. The worst part is, even if he carries the truth with his beliefs, he has lost because his arrogance and thoughtlessness have closed the doors of communication with others. He is not concerned with whether or not others learn, only that he is considered right.

When we are asked the question that titles this article, our response should always be that if there is adequate and suitable evidence to show that our convictions are wrong we will change our beliefs. If we are completely interested in truth, then what we have believed in the past does not matter, but what has been proven to be true in the present is of the utmost importance.

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Stubbornness is Like… What?

In First Samuel 15 we read concerning the rebellious actions of King Saul. He was given orders from God, failed to follow those orders, yet returned claiming to have kept God’s commands and blaming the disobedience on the people. The most well-remembered verse of that text is verse 22, where the prophet Samuel replies: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” However, an observation of the next verse uncovers a very interesting statement. Samuel continues his speaking for God by stating: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

While stubbornness is generally not viewed as the most ingratiating of attributes, most would not take it so far as to equate it with idolatry. Yet, here God does exactly that, and a little bit of closer examination shows why.

Webster defines the term “stubborn” as: “unreasonably or perversely unyielding; performed or carried on in an unyielding, obstinate, or persistent manner; difficult to handle, manage, or treat.” Therefore, by definition, one who is stubborn is one who is being unreasonable, obstinate, or difficult.

But how does that make stubbornness like idolatry? Consider how that comparison is valid. Idolatry is the worship of an image or creation of man’s hands. Is it giving honor and devotion to someone/something other than God and giving that thing greater authority in your life. Thus, it is an accurate comparison to say that stubbornness is like idolatry: except instead of worshiping some hunk of wood or metal, the one who is being placed on the pedestal is self. A stubborn individual is not concerned with what the right answer is, only what his or her answer is. Once the mind is made up, the stubborn individual is unwilling to change the opinion or decision under consideration. This individual is, as the above definition referenced, one who is unreasonable and unyielding. Such a person is not interested in truth, but in remaining true to one’s own previous conclusions.

There is a difference between being stubborn and having confidence. The confident individual is one who is certain that what is believed or done is correct. However, if shown that it is incorrect, a correction must be made in order for that confidence to remain intact. Nevertheless, the stubborn individual will not make such a correction. Uncaring about the proofs that have been given, this individual will continue down the chosen path no matter what is said, because that is the direction that has been chosen.

Unfortunately, the religious world (both inside and outside of the church) is littered with spiritual stubbornness. For many people you could show them 100 verses that tell them they are wrong in their beliefs; define every term to show them their conclusions are erroneous; and lovingly share with them contextual evidence to show that the way they are using a passage is incorrect; yet they will still stand on their prior declarations and convictions because that is what they have always believed or because that is what mom, dad, or the preacher said.

Saul exhibited stubbornness on multiple occasions and it cost him his throne. We need to learn the lesson that God tried to teach the first king of Israel. Let us be confident in our beliefs and persuaded in our convictions, but may we never become stubborn in our beliefs and opinions. If we allow stubbornness to invade we cease learning, uproot humility, and invite destruction.

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I Want to be Like Peter, Paul, and Mary

No, not that Peter, Paul and Mary… so get the thoughts about the 60’s folk group out of your head. From the spiritual perspective Christians recognize the need to be Christ-like. Unfortunately, considering the fact that none of us is sinless, it is impossible to truly replicate the life of the greatest man that ever lived. We can, however, emulate those who were servants of Christ as they followed him and be those who are found faithful before him. Paul wrote: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Therefore, consider some biblical examples we should desire to be like.

I want to have the boldness of Peter. Peter is one of the most poignantly developed individuals in the New Testament. Was the young disciple outspoken? Yes; somewhat overzealous? Obviously; in over his head? Without a doubt. Nevertheless, there was boldness in Peter that we should desire to insert into our own lives. He was not perfect, as Galatians 2 and Matthew 26 clearly demonstrate, but he was confident in what he believed and was not slow to present it. Whether it is, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16), or, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), many of Peter’s statements have become common sentiments and acknowledgements used by every Christian in myriad situations. His boldness to proclaim the Gospel and state his beliefs clearly should be the desire of every Christian.

I want to have the conviction of Paul. As one reads the writings of the apostle, every page in covered in the conviction of salvation from, and service to, Christ. Oftentimes there is doubt in the hearts of Christians as to whether they are truly acceptable in the sight of God. It is not that they are hiding deep, dark secrets that they know will condemn them; it is instead that they feel so inadequate to the blessings bestowed upon them that they struggle to accept the reality of them. Yet Paul’s conviction was steadfast and sure. From, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16), to, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phi. 4:13), and culminating with, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7), Paul’s conviction of the truth of God’s Word and his salvation through obedience to it is evident. Yet that confidence does not stem from his own actions and self-centered trust; but in the full and complete trust in the Savior and his promises. Every Christian should have the conviction of Paul when it comes to truth and the righteous servant’s place with the Lord.

I want to have the devotion of Mary. While the name of Mary Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus has been dragged through the mud and besmirched by many Biblical “scholars” through the years, there is no doubt the devotion she had to the Lord. Mary was one who, after having seven demons cast out of her, helped take care of Jesus and his disciples throughout their work (Luke 8:2-3). Yet, unlike so many others, her devotion did not end with words. She was present at his crucifixion, remaining with Jesus’ mother and others while observing the Savior put to death (Mat. 27:55-56). She remained at the sepulcher where Jesus was laid (Mat. 27:61); and was one of those who had come to finish putting a proper burial of the Lord in place on the first day of the week (Mat. 28:1). It is also without a doubt that she would have been among the women listed as being present with the disciples after the Lord’s ascension (Acts 1:14). She was devoted to Jesus, his work, and the needs of his ministry. We need to have that level of devotion to Christ. Though he no longer walks this earth today, his body is present through the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Just as Mary cared for Jesus and his disciples in their ministry, we should be as devoted to caring for, and working with, the body of Christ today.

Christianity needs more people who want to be less like the world and more like Peter, Paul, and Mary; who care far less about what culture and society say and far more about what God says; who are far less worried about the money in their physical banks and far more worried about the securities in their spiritual banks. It is my prayer that every Christian desire with zeal to be like these three stalwart servants of Jesus. If we will, we can rest assured the Lord will be pleased (John 8:31-32).

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The Other Obadiah

For those who are familiar with the Old Testament, the name Obadiah automatically reminds us of the single-chapter book associated with the prophet of the same name that declared the downfall of the Edomites. However, there is another Obadiah mentioned in the Old Testament that is worthy of our acknowledgement.

In First Kings 18, we are introduced to Israel during the days of Elijah. The Northern Kingdom is ruled by that “wonderful” duo of Ahab and Jezebel; and the ungodly queen has done everything she can to stamp out the worship of God from among the people. She has even gone to the extent of making the prophets of God outlaws and has them put to death wherever they are found. It is under these conditions that God sends Elijah back to Samaria from his exile in Sidon to come before Ahab and, eventually, have the contest with the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.

When Elijah comes back into the land he finds a man named Obadiah. The Biblical record states: And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.

And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.'” And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”‘ And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”‘; and he will kill me.” And Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah. (1 Kin. 18:3-16 ESV)

Obadiah is the servant over Ahab’s household, but of greater importance he is a servant of God. Obadiah shows his courage by saving 100 prophets of God from certain death. Not only does he hide them, he sees to it they have food, water, and shelter. He watches over them, indications are, for a long period of time; keeping them safe from the wrath of the queen.

But Obadiah is also fearful. When Elijah tells him to go and relay the message of his return to the king, Obadiah wonders what he has done to deserve such a death sentence. Elijah will promise Obadiah that God will take care of him and protect him from Ahab, but Obadiah is still fearful of the repercussions of being the messenger proclaiming the return of a prophet so highly disdained before the king. Nevertheless, Obadiah does what is asked of him, and God does as Elijah said he would in protecting him.

Obadiah is an excellent example of courage and conviction. He was willing to help and protect God’s people even though it put his own life at risk. He was faithful to God, even while serving a king that had no concern for God’s laws or his people. Though fearful at what he was asked to do, Obadiah fulfilled his mission and announced Elijah’s return to the king. As Bible students we should remember in our own lives, and instruct others as the opportunity arises, the courage and virtues of “the other Obadiah.”

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