Summary: Is your faith, your belief a matter of preference or a matter of conviction? There is a difference!
DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE?
ROMANS 10:9-13 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
INTRODUCTION: Is your faith, your belief a matter of preference or a matter of conviction? Do you really believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, God Incarnate? Do you really believe that He died for all of your sins and rose again? Do you really believe that Jesus is alive today and is coming again? How convinced are you that the Bible from cover to cover is the verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God? Do you truly believe in the reality of hell’s fire and heaven’s splendor? Do you have absolute assurance of your eternal destiny? You say I believe – but how real is your belief?
I. Preference and Conviction Defined
A. Preference – the act of choosing, the act of liking better or best
B. Conviction – a strong persuasion or compelling belief
C. Preference can be described as "a choice; negotiable (optional)."
D. Conviction is defined as "a requirement; non-negotiable.
E. 2 Timothy 1:12 "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded (absolutely and totally convinced and sure) that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
II. Preference and Conviction Differentiated
1. Preferences being negotiable are subject to change based on what mood you’re in, the circumstances you’re in, or the influences of others.
2. According the U.S. Supreme Court. A preference is a very strong belief, held with great strength. You can give your entire life in a full-time way to the service of the preference, and can also give your entire material wealth in the name of the belief. You can also energetically proselytize others to your preference. You can teach this belief to your children, and it may still be only preference. A preference is a strong belief, but a belief that you will change under the right circumstances. Circumstances such as 1) peer pressure, 2) family pressure, 3) lawsuits, 4) jail, 5) threat of death, 6) convenience.
3. Preference says this is the best that I have found.
1. Convictions neither changes by what mood you’re in or what conditions you are confronted with. It is decisions you have made and will live and die by.
2. Josh McDowell in his booklet “Beyond Belief to Convictions” states that conviction is the state of being so thoroughly convinced that something is absolutely true that you take a stand regardless of the consequences.” (p.10)
3. A conviction is not something that you discover; it is something that you purpose in your heart.
4. Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."
5. Convictions leave no room for compromise it says there is nothing better.
III. Preference and Conviction Demonstrated.
A. Preferences compromise –.Convictions do not
1. Those whose beliefs are preferences and not convictions compromise whenever it is convenient
2. Back in the days of the Inquisition when the Roman Catholic came to the Jew and said, "Are you a Roman Catholic?" Many Jews reasoned in their minds this way; "If I say no, they are going to kill me. They are going to burn me. But if I say, yes, the Lord God will forgive me on the Day of Atonement." – (Todd Bailey, Preference or Conviction) That line of reasoning is based on preference and not conviction.
3. In contrast consider the Convictions of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:16-18 "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."