If ever you have tried, like me, to argue with legalistic practices (by the way, you can have reverse legalism too!) which almost always revolves around dress standards and lifestyle choices, you’ll know it’s a slippery slope. What begins with organizational rules quickly becomes defended by calling them personal convictions. One man told me, they are just the filter that we live life through.

For instance, the Articles of Faith of the Holiness/Oneness Pentecostal Movement, otherwise known as their dress standards, otherwise known as Holiness, otherwise known as personal convictions, otherwise known as lifestyle choices, otherwise known as an individual filter, otherwise known as…You get the point, I think.

Is it a Conviction? Or have you been convinced?

These standards, filters, and lifestyle choices, are not a conviction if it is because of, and changes based on current social circles, peer pressures, and the inundation of information by popular leaders. Or is it?

It is a convincing if it remains in spite of those things, battling criticism and questioning without fear of favor, and generally, when one is separated from the environment that created the conviction.

By way of example, the Oneness Pentecostal system (one of the most obvious in outward legalism, and I’m familiar with it, so I talk about it) has excessive dress standards. (Reminds me of Acts 15 where Paul said, ‘not even our fathers could bear it…)

Women are not to cut their hair, color it, wear make up, jewelry, etc., etc. A visiting woman would (and does) feel incredibly uncomfortable in those churches because they are so different in appearance. If that individual is convinced and/or chooses to remain in that environment, they must adapt/conform in order to be accepted into the social circles and to feel comfortable.

It is the same for men – if no one there has facial hair, or longer hair, and you do, as a visitor, you’ll feel different, uncomfortable and either move away from the discomfort, or adapt. I remember one man praying at the altar for many weeks, the minister telling him, “If you would just shave that beard, God would fill you with his Spirit.” That man didn’t receive a personal conviction, he was being convinced of someone else’s.

At the end, that man chose to move away from the discomfort rather than conform.

“that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;”

Ephesians 4:14, ESV

A conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion” and so for one to say it is a ‘personal conviction’ is a true statement. What is also true however, is that their convictions are likely to change based on their environment. This is natural human psychology and is known as Adaptation.

According to a quote on Psychological Adaption, organisms adapt and cognitively modify their behavior to gain the most benefit out of its current environment. This ties back to my comments about comfort. We, with awareness, modify our behaviors, traits and choices to get the ‘most’ out of whatever circumstance we are in. We protect our own skin.

I was asked on the Divide The Word Facebook page,  “Is it possible to be “convicted” of something that is untrue? If the answer is yes, what is the benefit?” And my answer was the same. Humans hate to be uncomfortable. They either get away from that which makes them uncomfortable, or they adapt so that that discomfort turns to comfort.

I am convinced!

The major difference between conviction and convincing is that one is external and one is internal. When one is convinced, that carries with them regardless of external environments, although it could be swayed by new information, forming a new internal convincing. However, simply consider the different wording from the dictionary between conviction, and convinced.

Convinced: completely certain about something.

Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion.

The words of the Apostle Paul become much stronger if we identify with the definition of convinced rather than conviction.

For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

To put this to the test with regards to legalistic stances or ‘convictions’, as personal as they are, ask the question why nearly every church, in the same umbrella denomination has different takes on the same topics? Does God send one pastor a conviction that long sleeve shirts are the best way to stay ‘holy’, and the pastor in the next city over a conviction that short sleeve shirts are adequate to be ‘holy’? Are these two individuals being fully convinced by the Word, or putting personal convictions as being equal to the Word?

That is to say, today, our convictions and convincings should be solely based on the Word of Scripture, not ‘personal’ anything.

So convinced was Paul that he became a martyr for his beliefs. No matter what environment or circumstance he was in, it did not change. But you take one of my examples, the dress standards of legalism, and move an individual from one church to the next, and their ‘convictions’ will float with what that new ‘pastor’ teaches as conviction.

It is a convincing if it remains in spite of those things, battling criticism and questioning without fear of favor, and generally, when one is separated from the environment that created the conviction.

Conclusion

If, in prayer, and personal studies of Scripture, which is the more sure word of prophecy, and is fully sufficient in all things, you are led and convinced that a particular thing would right for you to observe, and only you, you have received a personal conviction.

If however, an organization tells you how to think, behave, and what you can and cannot do, that is most definitely not a personal conviction, you have been convinced of someone else’s personal conviction. (I know, I just repeated myself!)

The reason this is important to me is the uncountable number of people who have and still do live in fear over man made traditions rather than living in the fear, and nurturing, of God. I recall a woman telling me about taking her son to a football game for the first time who had to leave early in a panic attack, because she had been convinced for so long that if Jesus came back for his Bride, and you were at a ball game, you would be left behind!

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

In case anyone come on here and tells you that they don’t do it ‘because the Church tells them to‘, that is a preconditioned lie trained in to them, and here are direct snippets from the UPCI Church Manual, 2019 edition, pages 36/37, which quotes Hebrews 12:14 as evidence in support that if you do not abide by these personal convictions, you are not eligible to be a member of their churches and furthermore, you may not see the Lord.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (KJV)

Page 36, UPCI Manual, 2019 Edition
Page 37, UPCI Manual, 2019 Edition

On pages 118 and 119, under Local Church Government, Article II, titled, ‘Membership’, it states that your eligibility to be a member of the church requires the following;

Page 118, UPCI Manual, 2019 Edition
Page 119, UPCI Manual, 2019 Edition

Finally, the Positional Papers of the manual include a section on Holiness, starting on page 195, ending on page 199 and includes the stances on Make up, Jewelry, Separation, Television, Swimming, Physical Education, etc. All in the same vein of thought, that while these are ‘personal convictions’, they are actually requirements for membership.

Click here to download a full copy of the UPCI 2019 Manual.

And without surprise, you’ll find hundreds of churches the United Pentecostal Church, International., roster that allows television, or jewelry, all while signing the paper, affirming the above sentence, “Obligations. Each member of the assembly must accept the following obligations…”

Thus – if you have been convinced, that someone else’s convictions are obligations for you to remain in good graces, fellowship with man, and ultimately, to attain fellowship with God, then these are most definitely not personal convictions, but are performance metrics inside a performance based religion. You have not been convicted, rather you have been convinced of a false gospel.

I am astonished and extremely irritated that you are so quickly shifting your allegiance and deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different [even contrary] gospel; which is really not another [gospel]; but there are [obviously] some [people masquerading as teachers] who are disturbing and confusing you [with a misleading, counterfeit teaching] and want to distort the gospel of Christ [twisting it into something which it absolutely is not].

Galatians 1:6-7, AMP

Posted by dividinghisword

I am the father of two, husband of one, and lover of Christ! I simply seek to spread the Word of God unadulterated, not filtered by denominational interpretation. I have a degree in Theology from Texas Bible College but more so I have His Word!

One Comment

  1. Wow I literally went through that whole manual. Spent almost 25 years(my entire life) in UPCI. My mom and step dad have a UPCI church even….seeing all the rules and whatnot is crazy. I thought they did away with the TV rule back in the 90s or something

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