Commands or Convictions? and a Heart Matter

 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Mark 12:30

The Following post is completely just my thoughts and opinions, because everything in the Christian life boils down to the motivation of the heart, not our works.

1 Corinthians 7:17  Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.

In the Christian world there are many opinions, many ideals, and many different beliefs.  So, how do you differentiate between commands in Scripture and personal convictions?

Throughout Christian history, there have been differences in opinions and Theology when discussing Scripture.  If you just look around at the different Denominations within Christianity and discover what the differences are, many of those differences stem from a difference in interpretation of the Scriptures or a difference in personal convictions of the founders of each denomination.  At the beginning, when the Church was growing, there were some that believed even the Gentiles needed to follow Jewish Law, however, the Apostle Paul did not adhere to this thinking.  It basically boiled down to Loving God and loving people.  Yes, there are things of this world we should not partake in on the fact that it is not profitable to growing God’s kingdom, but those things do not determine your salvation.

When looking at the Scriptures and the Commandments, You have the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament.  These were given to Moses as a guideline for the people chosen by God to live by.  Then the Pharisees interpreted those Commandments into daily life and made them laws.  If you grew up going to Church you probably can recite all 10 in order.  Am I right?  When you study Jewish Customs and Jewish History, some of those laws are very tedious, but interesting nonetheless.  A lot can be learned about being devoted, respecting God, and recognizing who God is.

In the New Testament, there are new Commandments that boil down to this Love God and Love People.  And, yes, that is a broad statement, but I think it was on purpose.  What does that look like.  How do you love God and love people?  If we look to examples of Jesus, the disciples, The Apostle Paul… all people are different and need to be loved in different ways.  So, there is no formula to how to love God.  There is no method to loving people.  That is where Convictions come in.

So what is a Conviction?  How are convictions different from commandments?  All questions I have asked myself and researched.

Here is my conclusion:  Commandments are explicitly spelled out in Scripture.  Of course you have the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20.  Those are a given.  But then there are the Love God and Love others commandments:

Luke 10:25-27  And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” This verse is also recorded in the other Gospels, 

 Matthew 22:37-40 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ; This same account is seen in Mark 12:28-34  But that command also existed in the Old Testament too… Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Then there is this….

 Matthew 28: 16-20 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” and in Mark 16:14-20 and Acts 1:6-9.

These are the major things that are commanded.  There are also those things Paul wrote to the Churches about that included how children should treat their parents, how husbands and wives should love one another, etc…  Paul’s letters are full of these guidelines of what a life of a  person who loves Christ looks like.

So there are things, as one who follows Christ, we are commanded to do.  But how these are carried out in life may look different for each person.  This is where Convictions come into play.  My personal definition of convictions is, anything you are compelled by the Holy Spirit to do with your life that bring you closer in your relationship with Christ and are able to live that out to the world.  These things are not really actions that can be impressed on others, because they are not actions stated explicitly in Scripture.  There may be suggestions made by Paul in his letters to the Churches, and those suggestions manifest themselves in your personal convictions.

What are your personal convictions?  What are those things that you glean from Scripture that are profitable to expanding God’s Kingdom and growing your relationship with Christ.  As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

1 Corinthians 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 

Apparently the Church at Corinth needed a lot of instruction on right living and advancing the Kingdom.  In everything, we need to filter life, ideas, and ideals through Scripture.  We need to check the motivation of our heart in why we do or do not do something.  In all things it should be because it is right and pleasing unto God.  Living life is an act of worship.   

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