Christ-centered Convictions and Character

Character is defined as strength of conviction. A person with conviction is convinced that something is true and stands on that assertion, regardless of the situation and regardless of the consequences. Personal convictions reveal who a person is.

A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is good to remember that character is gauged by general tendencies, not on the basis of a few isolated actions. We must look at the whole life. For example, King David was a man of good character (1 Samuel 13:14) although he sinned on occasion (2 Samuel 11). And although King Ahab may have acted nobly once (1 Kings 22:35), he was still a man of overall bad character (1 Kings 16:33). Several people in the Bible are described as having noble character: Ruth (Ruth 3:11), Hanani (Nehemiah 7:2), David (Psalm 78:72), and Job (Job 2:3). These individuals’ lives were distinguished by persistent God-centered conviction and character.

Christians are a chosen people, belonging to God so that we may declare His praises: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). To “declare His praises,” then, it is essential that we spend time in His Word.  We use the Bible as our touchstone: what the Bible promotes, we should have the same personal conviction.  What the Bible forbids, we should have a personal conviction against. In this way, the Word of God informs our conscience and is a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Personal convictions should never be based solely on what we “feel” about a matter: “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe” (Proverbs 28:26).  

Character is influenced and developed by our choices, influenced by our convictions. Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” in Babylon (Daniel 1:8), and that godly choice was an important step in formulating an unassailable integrity in the young man’s life confirming, “The integrity of the upright guides them” (Proverbs 11:3a), helping us weather the storms of life and keep us from sin (Proverbs 10:9a).

It is the Lord’s purpose to develop character within us: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3). Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work resulting in a consistent manifestation of Jesus in our lives.   Christians are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10) epitomizing the behavior that glorifies God, makes Christ real to others, all a result of Christ-centered convictions and character.  Indeed, “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).   

It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character: “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). The Lord is pleased when His children grow in character: “You test the heart and are pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17; see also Psalm 15:1-2).

We enhance Godly character by controlling our thoughts (Philippians 4:8); practicing Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5-6); guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18-20); keeping good company (1 Corinthians 15:33); setting a good example, our godly reputation evident to all (Titus 2:7-8).

The “actions” that glorify our Father are those that bear much fruit (John 15:8), directly correlated to Godly convictions and character. Indeed, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—the hallmarks of Christian behavior, prove timeless convictions regardless of circumstances.

Part of maturity is having enough personal conviction to recognize and withstand the false teachings of the day.  A person with personal convictions has thought through the issues and lives with purpose. Such people are sure of what they believe, and they are convinced of the things that matter most, not at all and those proving completely false (Ephesians 4:14).

All issues are addressed in the guiding convictions of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17; James 1:5). The Bible does not mention abortion, per se, but it does speak clearly about matters such as murder and the protection of the innocent. When we study and submit to the Word of God, we learn what God says is right or wrong (Hebrews 5:14). As we mature in wisdom and judgment, our personal convictions will align with those things that are excellent to God (Philippians 1:9–11; Romans 12:1–2). Paul urged the Romans to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:2). This is the essence of true Christian character – surrendering our hearts and yielding our bodies to Christ so He might continue God’s work through us.  As He was dying on the cross, Christ looked out at His executioners and asked His Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34). Jesus was doing more than fulfilling prophecy and making “intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12), He was practicing the convictions of His character (Luke 6:27-28).  “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).