While the Spirit of the Lord deals with our sin, at the same time we need to realize the Spirit of the Lord also deals with the conviction of our purpose. Is there therefore truly a conviction in our heart to serve God, a conviction to pursue Him, a conviction to love Him, a conviction to run the race He has set before us, a conviction to fulfill the Great Commission, and a conviction to preach His Truth? Does such a conviction drive us, no matter the trials, no matter the cost or the price to pay? For such conviction, we urgently need in perilous times!
Peter wrote in “2 Peter 1:10: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.” In order to fulfill our calling and our election, in order not to stumble, we need to be convicted of such a calling and an election. If God has called you to be an evangelist, is there truly a conviction of your heart to fulfill such a calling? Are you prepared to sacrifice all for that calling and election? Or if God has called you to preach and teach the Gospel no matter the cost, is there truly a mighty conviction of God to run the race, to pursue such a mandate, or are we left distracted, and without conviction?
And why do we need such a conviction? Because we are living in a world of disillusionment, where so many people are left discouraged. We need to be convicted in our actions, thus strengthened by God, to keep on being a workman approved and to glorify His kingdom. We cannot allow anything to rattle our cages, to drag us down or slow us down. Brothers and sisters of our Lord, is there truly a conviction in our heart for what God has called us to do? Is there a burning conviction to pursue such a purpose, and to make your election and calling sure? For if we pursue and strife towards such a purpose in the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we shall surely not stumble for our gaze is set upon Jesus.
And so Paul writes in “1 Corinthians 9: Striving for a Crown: 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Paul writes here about temperate in all things, in other words, exercising self-control to reach such a prize. He speaks about running with certainty, thus conviction, and he speaks about practicing discipleship (not legalism) to the point of subjection. This is a man who understood about conviction and about being driven to complete what God placed before him. This is why he wrote in “2 Timothy 1: Amplified Bible (AMP): 14 Guard [with the greatest care] and keep unchanged, the treasure [that precious truth] which has been entrusted to you [that is, the good news about salvation through personal faith in Christ Jesus], through [the help of] the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” and also “2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”
Our conviction needs to be accompanied by fruitful growth in the faith as we are led by the Spirit of the Lord. It says in “2 Peter 1: 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” Based on what Peter wrote regarding virtue he then admonished believers to be even more diligent to make their call and election sure.
And yes, with the conviction of the Holy Spirit burning within us, we can complete the race; we can set aside all hindrances and challenges and embrace what God has called us to do. Hebrews 12: The Race of Faith: 12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Yes, may we look upon Jesus, our Lord, and Saviour, and run this race with conviction! For God shall lead us by the rod and the staff, and prepare a table for us in the midst of our enemies! In the power of the Holy Spirit and by the conviction of His Presence, we shall then not stumble. In such perilous times of deception and wickedness, we need to remain steadfast in the pursuit of God.
Paul wrote the famous Scripture in “Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” While we all know this Scripture as it deals with the spiritual armor of God, just as important is to note how Paul continually spoke about standing one’s ground. We need to stand in the conviction of our faith, our calling, our election, and our hope so that we may stand against the wiles of the devil.
Remember this is a man who endured every hardship and suffering you can imagine in his service to God. His journey is spelled out in 2 Corinthians 11: 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.
Despite all of this, Paul wrote about standing one’s ground. Why? Because he was convicted of God’s greatness, God’s goodness, God’s redemption, and salvation! He was convicted by the Holy Spirit that the Gospel is the Good News and thus to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was fully convicted that such news is the message of the cross that sets the captives free and binds up the broken-hearted. Yes, this was a man convicted of his own mortality, of his own humanity and weaknesses, yet he persisted, yet he endured because of conviction. Of the conviction of preaching the Gospel at all cost we read in “Ephesians 3: 8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the [d]manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the [e]principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
Glory to God! Paul suffered it all to preach the manifested wisdom of God, and making known to the world of the redemption by the Blood. Remember, Paul, was opposed not just by fellow disciples, but by the Roman Empire, and the pagan ways of Greece and Asia Minor. Yet he endured, yes, he endured and ran the race because he was convicted that no matter the cost that the Gospel needed to be preached! He made sure of his calling and election, and so he ran the race and endured it all to the glory of God. In the end, he writes “2 Timothy 4: 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
This is conviction! He has come to the end of it all, he has fought the good fight, and he has kept the faith in order to receive his crown of righteousness. Paul was a man driven and convicted because he not only preached the Gospel, but he believed it and he was willing to give his very life to glorify God. Do we truly believe the Gospel? Are we still convicted of the message of the cross and the Blood? Also remember, the ‘pouring out of a drink offering’ is a metaphor for the blood Jesus spilled on the cross. Jesus spoke to this directly in Luke 22:20 when He instituted the New Covenant. He picked up a cup of wine and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the need of a drink offering, His blood literally pouring out when the soldier pierced His side with a spear (John 19:33).
Paul even endured the “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) “to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” He called it “a messenger of Satan” that had the purpose of “torment.” Many explanations have been put forward, but whether Paul is referring to a physical, spiritual, or emotional affliction—or something else entirely—has never been answered with satisfaction. Whatever it was, God’s goal in allowing the thorn in the flesh was to keep Paul humble. Indeed, Paul remained humble in his pursuit of God, because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit to only seek to glorify God.
In 2 Corinthians 14, he writes: “5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified … 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9 of the danger of being disqualified, as he mentions again in chapter 14. Paul’s concern was therefore the danger of falling away, thus abandoning the Lord, abandoning the path God has set one on, and departing from one’s calling and election. We can therefore only stay the course when we are convicted of the Truth of the Lord, and such conviction comes by the Spirit who was poured out to lead us in all truth (John 16) with the Truth being Jesus. Again, we find here the mention of Paul’s humility, and his urging for believers to be complete, to be united, and to walk in peace. The Amplified translates ‘complete’ as fully restored, growing, and maturing in godly character and spirit—pleasing your heavenly Father by the life you live.
May we, therefore, walk in such a conviction – a conviction of God’s Truth, the conviction of the power of the cross and the Blood, the conviction of the Gospel, the conviction of abiding in the Lord (unity) and abiding in love and unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us remain humble, let us remain true to the Lord, and may we with conviction run this race because God’s Word is Truth and God shall be with us.
May we stand our ground, yes stand, no matter the cost, no matter what we endure! May we stand no matter what the enemy throws against us. Jesus stood His ground in the wilderness when the devil tempted Him. And so by His strength and grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) and conviction we can stand and fight the good fight of faith. So let us stand, be vigilant, be alert, and with boldness and humility declare the intended wisdom of God!