"When they heard it, being convicted in their own conscience, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was in the center of the court." John 8:9
There is a major difference between preference and conviction.
Several years ago the state of Ohio tried to force an Amish man into enrolling his son in the public school system. When court after court ruled against him and threatened to jail him if he didnít comply, he repeatedly said that though he didnít want to go to jail, he was not going to enroll his son in public school.
Mr. Yoder repeatedly told the court that to enroll his son in public school was against his religious conviction. He maintained that the Bible teaches that fathers should teach their children and raise them in the admonition of the Lord. But Mr. Yoder lost appeal after appeal until his case reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court ruled in his favor stating that his religious convictions were protected by Law. Mr. Yoder had convinced the highest Court in the Land that his view was a conviction and not a mere preference. The Court recognizes religious convictions but not religious preferences.
The Court recognized that Mr. Yoder was willing to suffer imprisonment for his belief. He was not saying -"I would prefer to teach my son at home and keep him out of public school" - He was saying -"I cannot in good conscience practice my faith if I do not teach my son and keep him out of public school, and I am willing to suffer the consequences of my conviction."
The Holy Spirit is sent out to convict people of their sins.
Once a person is convicted he stands at the crossroads in the Valley of Decision.
When a person learns the truth that the Sabbath is to be observed and kept holy, his actions will show whether he has a conviction or a preference. A person with a preference would like to be able to keep the Sabbath but will give in when pressured by family, friends or their employer.
A person with a conviction understands that they must obey God regardless of the consequences. To faithfully keep the Sabbath, for example, they may experience problems with family and friends, and may lose their job.
Godís Word and the Holy Spirit are designed to convict us to change, submit and obey the will of God. Those with convictions are willing to suffer and even die for their beliefs, but those with mere preferences are not willing to suffer hardship or persecution.
Jesus promised difficulties for those who would follow him saying that divisions would arise in the family and that they would be hated by the world. But to those who remain faithful and true, He promised to crown them with eternal glory at His return.