In Titus 1:9 an approved elder is described as, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Jude says in verses 14 and 15 of his book, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
The word “convince” as used in these passages means to “convict, convince, tell a fault, reprove, rebuke” (Strong). It is evident that elders must be men who are persuaded in their own minds of the truth that is in Christ and that this persuasion (conviction) leads them to be strong in their teaching so that they may properly rebuke and correct the gainsayers. Obviously all Christians should develop this great quality of “conviction.” Unless one is convicted within himself of the truth of God’s Word and unless he has submitted to it in his own life he will never be able to properly help others overcome the faults in their lives.
Paul said that “ye which are spiritual” should restore a man overtaken in a fault (Gal. 6:1). This means that these “spiritual people” would be people of conviction about the truth and people who had allowed that truth to guide their own lives. These would be people who are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6: 10). These are people who love God with all their souls, minds, and strength (Mark 12:30).
An example of the development of this strength (conviction) is Saul of Tarsus, following his conversion to Christ. Acts 9:22 says, “But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.” Later Paul would write, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (II Cor. 2:17). In I Corinthians 4:17 Paul said that he taught the same things every where “in every church.”
But how is this conviction developed? We observe that conviction is based upon one’s faith which is based upon one’s knowledge which comes by the “hearing of the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). When Felix called Paul to him he wanted Paul to explain “the faith in Christ” (Acts 24:24). Honorable men respect men of “conviction.” But for this conviction to be worthy of honor it must be based upon God’s truth. A man may be convinced and convicted in the wrong way. A man can be convinced and convicted of the right way and according to truth. This comes by a study of God’s Word and a willingness to follow God’s Word wherever it leads one.
How would you like to listen to a preacher if you thought or knew that he was not really convinced that what he was saying was the truth? How many parents fail in their leading of their children because they say things without conviction—something easily perceived by their children? Indeed conviction is a necessary quality of life for leaders of God’s people.
Conviction is not a quality that is inherited or a talent that one is born with! It is developed. How?
Perhaps the best description of the development of this quality, and all other necessary qualities to please God is given in II Peter 1:5-7. Here Peter said, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”
Virtue is moral excellence. Knowledge is the knowledge of God’s Word. Temperance is self-control. Patience is steadfastness even in the face of grave danger. Godliness is God-like-ness. Brotherly kindness demonstrates the affinity all men have for all other men, especially of God’s family. Charity refers to the willingness to seek the highest and best good for the object of one’s love.
Then in verse eight of II Peter 1, Peter says, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Surely such a person is a person of conviction in Christ!