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Day 11 – Beliefs vs. Convictions: Part 1

Proverbs 14:10; 1 John 3:19–21

We all walk through life with beliefs and convictions (things of which we are convinced). Beliefs are formed in our brains by a logical process of considering a truth statement and accepting, rejecting, or modifying it. We also have beliefs from indoctrination (especially by our family of origin). Beliefs are formed and reside in our brains and collectively they form our conscious worldview. We speak out of our beliefs and we really mean it. Convictions, or things we are convinced of, are formed by our experiences and interpretation of those experiences. They reside in the emotional center of our being, provide the foundation for our subconscious worldview, and greatly impact how we see ourselves, others, and God. We behave out of our convictions as they produce our coping mechanisms—both offensive and defensive.

Some of our beliefs and convictions are misaligned or diametrically opposed to one another. This is why we sometimes behave counter to what we profess. A person with incongruent beliefs and convictions experiences inner turmoil—an internal civil war of sorts. We often respond to situations in the same unhealthy or destructive ways even though we know (believe) it is wrong. Both beliefs and convictions can be right or wrong, but it is false convictions, or lies we’ve bought into, that most often stunt our spiritual growth. While it is not always the case, convictions are typically formed by painful events.

We are all wounded in life, some in small ways and others in unbelievably tragic ways. As we do our best to survive and recover from the hurt, we also interpret these events. We ask, “Why did this happen and what does it say about me, about others, and about God?” Particularly when we are young, we struggle to interpret these events correctly because our brains are not fully developed and we are “me” centric—certain that everything happened at me or because of me. This is why you cannot convince a seven-year-old that she’s not the reason her parents just divorced. Even if she believes what you are telling her, she’s convinced otherwise.

In our pain we misinterpret an event, often with the help of our lying enemy (we will learn more about this over the next two days), and we become convinced of something that seems true but isn’t. Then these convictions produce behaviors in us that cause those around us to react in ways that support the original lie. I’ll give an example of this in the coming days, but let me say it once again: our false convictions drive behaviors in us that cause the people around us to respond in ways that make us even more certain of our false conviction.

Closing Exercise

We will return to this topic in a few days, but begin to ask God to show you if you are convinced of anything that is not true and that is causing you to behave contrary to your beliefs or God’s freeing and healing truth.