Being a disciple Of Christ requires a transformation. One cannot continue as the person they were when they did not know Christ.
Most so-called Christian religions no longer emphasize the need to repent from former courses of conduct that are displeasing to God. It appears to be more important to have large memberships rather than bring up the uncomfortable subject of immoral behavior. Many adulterers, fornicators, drunks, thieves, and other bad people regularly attend ‘church’. And pastors of those groups make them feel okay by telling them, “God loves you just the way you are!” That is a lie.
The apostle Paul dispelled this notion when he wrote the Corinthian congregation his first letter:
1 Corinthian 6:9,10
9 Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts
10 or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves—none of these will possess God’s Kingdom. 11 Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. GNT
He wrote the Christian congregation in Ephesis he wrote this reminder:
22 Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old nature, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires,
23 to be renewed in your mental attitude,
24 and to clothe yourselves with the new nature, which was created according to God’s image in righteousness and true holiness.
Your present lifestyle and behavior may be pleasing to you yourself and other people; but is it pleasing to God and Christ? Is it wise to base judgments on one’s own self-satisfaction?
One of the greatest threats to our growth as Christians is the notion that we have arrived at a pretty good place and no longer need to develop our Christian walk and become more like Jesus.
Being self-satisfied opens us to sins of pride and arrogance. It makes one see themselves as having no spiritual needs. Therefore, this person does not see a need to change for the better. There is no need for self-examination with this mentality.
One of the greatest dangers in the Christian life is complacency. Webster’s definition of the word “complacency” is: “a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”
When a disciple becomes complacent the treachery of the heart has had success. Christian complacency means that no matter what happens, you are fully self-satisfied with your current personal effort in pursuing Christ.
The Bible makes clear that Christians are never standing still. They are either growing or backsliding.
After listing some of the qualities every Christian should have, Peter then states, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). In other words, if you are a Christian who is complacent with your growth in God, you are in danger.
13 Let’s behave decently, as people who live in the light of day. No wild parties, drunkenness, sexual immorality, promiscuity, quarreling, or jealousy!
14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and do not obey your flesh and its desires.
It is difficult to imagine what life would be like as a slave and to live without freedom to make your own decisions. God didn’t create man to live that way. He had every right to and he could have had he chosen to create us that way. After all, his way is the right way.
It is your choice to do things God’s way and to take on the characteristics that please him, God doesn’t force himself on us. God and Jesus have given us instructions on how to live a rewarding and fulfilling life, they have told us what the best way is but we don’t have to live that way. We make our own decision.
It doesn’t matter who you are. We all have the same opportunity to make the choice to live to please him. We all get to decide whether Christ is the example we follow or if we are going to continue to live to please ourselves.
What Example Did Jesus Set?
Jesus didn’t only come to save from sin, but he also came so that he could show a godly lifestyle. Jesus was the perfect example , he showed us what it looks like to live with mercy, humility, gentleness, and patience. Jesus showed us how to suffer for the sake of righteousness.
When it comes to the subject of changing our lives, many disciples of Christ feel the same as they feel about going to heaven: They are all for it, but they would rather not go through what you have to go through to get there!
The idea of change sounds good, but when it gets right down to it, many think, “You mean I actually have to live differently? No way!”
But the real Christianity IS a fundamental a changed life. If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. Becoming a Christian requires turning from your sin to God (repentance). But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
What does the biblical term “repentance” mean? The New Testament term for repentance is from a Greek word that simply means to change one’s mind: μετάνοια, metánoia.
In this sense, repentance is necessary for salvation; we must believe we need saving (which is usually a change of the human mindset). But after baptism we must continue to repent of our former lives, or to change our mindset about our previous way of living. This changing of our minds will certainly lead to our living changed lives in terms of our behaviors.
We read at Acts 3:19-20 that repentance is a prerequisite to receive forgiveness from God.
19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do,20 times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you.
Repentance which definitely also includes changing one’s way of thinking, is an integral part of the process God uses to save us
In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul paints a grim portrait of how unbelievers live. While not all unbelievers are as bad as they possibly could be, they all live “in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (4:17b-18). That bleak picture describes each of us before we met Jesus Christ.
That was our mindset and the way we lived our lives as unbelievers. It took a transformation that first started with a change of mind to change us into people who God approves of.
Building Christian Character In Order To Change Your Behavior
Behavior is a product of your character and your character depends on how you view life. In order to change your behavior, you must work on changing your character.
What’s one word you think someone would use describe your character? What word would you use?
In Bible days if an artist wanted to wear a groove into a metal plate, he would do so by repeatedly etching the same place with a sharp tool. After repeated strokes, an image would begin to take shape. The name for that tool in the Greek language is the word from which our word character is derived. (χαρακτήρ, ῆρος, ὁ, xaraktḗr, Transliteration: charaktér)
That word is used only once in the New Testament: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression [charaktér] of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
Think about the picture the writer of Hebrews was painting. The glory of God is exactly etched into the character of the Son. Just as an image of God is seen in the Son, when the character of Christ is etched into us, we present to the world a clear picture of the glory of God.
Behavior and character are related, but they aren’t the same thing. Behavior is what you do. Character, on the other hand, is the person your behavior has built.
Character is the sum of our behaviors—public and private—consistently arranged across the spectrum of our life. Any behavior—duplicated and reduplicated—forms a part of our character.
Every time you make a decision, you cut a groove. Every time you react to a crisis, you cut a groove. When you hold your tongue and practice self-control or when you let your tongue run loose and speak your mind, you’re carving your character. When you say yes or no to a reckless temptation, you’re signing your name. When you stand up to peer pressure, hold the line on truth, or return kindness for cruelty, you’re cutting the pattern of your character.
To etch positive grooves in your Christian character, keep these words in mind:
You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God.
2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth.
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!
5 You must put to death, then, the earthly desires at work in you, such as sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed (for greed is a form of idolatry).
6 Because of such things God’s anger will come upon those who do not obey him.
7 At one time you yourselves used to live according to such desires, when your life was dominated by them.
8 But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips.
9 Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits
10 and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.
Changing your character does not happen overnight. Changing your character requires patience, time, determination, and perseverance on your part. Do not give up.
Biblical Moral Code and Christian Ethics
Ethics are principles that govern a person’s actions. Ethics define right and wrong conduct. The words “ethics,” “morals” and “morality” may be applied in different contexts, but they have essentially the same meaning.
Biblical Ethics and Biblical Morality
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) was the standard of conduct in Old Testament times. Jesus did not abolish the moral and ethical laws that had been in effect from the time of Moses. He affirmed and expanded on those principles, but what matters most to God is our inner lives (attitudes and motives) rather than any outward show of holiness. Jesus taught that we should live by two great principles: 1) humble obedience to God above all else and 2) sincere respect and kindness for all people of the world (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, John 13:34-35).
Not only must we not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14), we should avoid entertaining even the thought of it (Matthew 5:27-28). Not only must we not steal (Exodus 20:15) and not envy what others have (Exodus 20:17), we should focus our lives on God, not on earthly possessions (Matthew 6:19-21). Not only must we not give false testimony (Exodus 20:16), we should even avoid evil thoughts and speech (Matthew 12:35-37). Not only must we be considerate to the poor and outcasts of the world (Deuteronomy 15:7-11), we should treat them as we would treat Jesus Himself! (Matthew 25:31-46).
What Were The Ethical Teachings Of Jesus Christ?
Jesus gave many examples of how to apply His ethical teachings in His “Sermon of the Mount” (Matthew Chapters 5-7) and the shorter “Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6:20-49). These are the highlights:
3 “Blessed are those who are spiritually needy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
4 Blessed are those who are sad. They will be comforted.
5 Blessed are those who are free of pride. They will be given the earth.
6 Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is right. They will be filled.
7 Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are those whose hearts are pure. They will see God.
9 Blessed are those who make peace. They will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Jesus’ statements above describe the values of the kingdom of God. At the same time, they describe the “blessed” results of keeping God’s commandments and being part of that kingdom.
What Did Jesus Teach About Anger?
21 “You have heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial.’
22 But now I tell you: if you are angry with your brother you will be brought to trial, if you call your brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ you will be brought before the Council, and if you call your brother a worthless fool you will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21, 22)
Anger is an emotion we all feel sometimes, but the anger here (Greek orgizo) implies extreme anger, perhaps a brooding anger that could lead to hostile words or acts of revenge. We cannot hold onto the anger that spoils our relationship with God and other people. We must forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).
What Did Jesus Teach About Adultery?
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’
28 But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart.
29 So if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.
30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose one of your limbs than to have your whole body go off to hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Many believe that God’s moral laws have changed. But Jesus’ teaching affirmed the prohibitions in the Ten Commandments against adultery (Exodus 20:14), and covetousness (Exodus 20:17).
We must not commit adultery, but we must also avoid the evil desires (lust or covetousness) that may cloud judgment and lead to an actual act of adultery. “So if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it away!”
What Did Jesus Teach About Divorce and Remarriage?
6 But in the beginning, at the time of creation, ‘God made them male and female,’ as the scripture says.
7 ‘And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife,
8 and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one.
9 No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.”
10 When they went back into the house, the disciples asked Jesus about this matter.
11 He said to them, “A man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against his wife.
12 In the same way, a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man commits adultery.” (Mark 10:6–12)
Many people begin a marriage truly in love. But if love should fade, they often divorce and marry another. However, Jesus taught that marriage should be a sacred bond forever. Each spouse must love and honor the other and not give up on the marriage when troubles arise.
Jesus gave only one condition in which a person was morally permitted to divorce his/her spouse:
7 The Pharisees asked him, “Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away?”
8 Jesus answered, “Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation. 9 I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman.” (Matthew 19:7,8)
A person has a moral right to divorce in the case of adultery; but there are those who choose to forgive and choose to remain in the marriage. It is purely a personal decision to make.
What Did Jesus Teach About Truthfulness and Honesty?
33 “You have also heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.’
34 But now I tell you: do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
37 Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’—anything else you say comes from the Evil One. (Matthew 5:33–34, 37)
People often made vows or swear oaths (even in God’s or Christ’ names) to convince someone of their sincerity. But instead of making vows, we must be known by our character that we are completely honest in word and deeds so that our simple “yes” or “no” will be believed as truth.
What Did Jesus Teach About Retaliation and Revenge?
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’
44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.
46 Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that!
47 And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!
48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. ( Matthew 5:38–39, 43–48)
In the days that Abraham lived, unlimited revenge for a wrong done was considered normal and proper (Genesis 34:1-2, 25-29). But later, the Law of Moses limited revenge to an equal injury for any injury done, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Leviticus 24:18-20). But Jesus said we should not take any revenge at all.
It is an act of love to an enemy to refrain from attempting punish of them ourselves.
Hebrews 10:30 reminds us that vegeance is in God’s hands:
30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
What Did Jesus Teach About Forgiveness?
14 “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. (Matthew 6:14–15)
The apostle Paul reminds us in his writings us that we are all sinners and that it is only through the grace of God we have an opportunity to be put right with Him.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23,24)
Just as God is merciful and forgives us our sins, we too must be merciful and forgive those who do us harm. Holding a grudge separates us from God’s love and robs all joy from life.
This has been extremely difficult for many to do in practice.
On the one hand a person wants their sins forgiven and erased and on the other hand, many find power in withhold ing forgiveness to someone else (a form of emotional blackmail). We should not be like this. The consequences of such unforgiving ehavior is what Jesus is talking about above. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.”
What Did Jesus Teach About Money and Wealth?
19 “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal.
20 Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal.
21 For your heart will always be where your riches are.
24 “You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:19–21, 24)
Lust for more wealth or possessions than we really need is the cause of all kinds of evils things as a result (1 Timothy 6:10). Greed is one of the most frequently mentioned sins in the Bible. Those of us who are blessed with more wealth than we need are obligated to share generously with those in need. They should not use their welath and means to lord themself over other people. Jesus gave a detailed parable of the result of such behavior. (Matthew 16:19-31)
What Did Jesus Teach About Condemning (Judging)?
The Bible’s moral and ethical teachings are intended to help us live according to God’s will. They are not intended to be used to criticize or condemn other people.
We are never to take upon ourselves the task of judgment that belongs to God alone. Jesus said that if we judge other people harshly, we will, in turn, be judged harshly:
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matthew 7:1-3)
God has appointed a Judge and he is the Judge of all creation. He is the One who can either approve or condemn a soul. Therefore we are actually overstepping when we as imperfect sinners ourselves condemn another person. Paul wrote this:
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Following The Golden Rule In Practice
12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. (NLT, Matthew 7:12)
The Golden Rule is a one-sentence summary of all of Jesus’ ethical teachings. In all aspects of life, we must treat others as we would like to be treated – never taking advantage or holding a grudge or doing harm; always being kind, compassionate and helpful when needed.
Ask youself: Do I Really have to Obey All of Jesus’ Ethical Teachings? Are there Exceptions?
Jesus sets a very high standard of conduct for both private and public life. Some people feel that that these high ethical standards are too difficult or even unrealistic, and there have been many attempts to soften His teachings or limit their scope.
Did Jesus Intend His Teachings only for His Disciples?
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was directed primarily to His disciples (Matthew 5:1-2, Luke 6:20). But the crowds of people were also present and listening (Matthew 7:28-29, Luke 7:1), and the language of His teachings implies that they apply to all people (Matthew 5:19, 5:32, 6:24, 7:13-14, 7:24-27).
It was always Jesus’ plan for His disciples to spread His teachings to the rest of the world.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:14,15)
Do Christ Teachings Apply To All Of Our Relations with Other People?
There are those who have convinced themselves that Jesus’ teachings only apply to those we have a personal relationship with like people within the group they belong to and that they do not apply to relations with people of other religions, races, nationalities, ways of life, etc. However, Jesus never spoke of any such exceptions.
In His parable of the good Samaritan, he made it clear that we must extend our “Christian love” to people of all races, religions and nationalities. He also said,
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48)
Ever since the nation split centuries before, Samaritans were despised by Judeans because of the ten tribe defection. Yet the Lord behaved differently.
Jesus actually approach a Samaritan and susequently gave her a witness concerning his identity. (John 4:5-26)
Do Jesus’ Teaching Apply to all Situations?
Some believe that Jesus’ teachings only apply in specific aspect of life. They feel that his teachings only apply to private life and not to public life like business dealings, etc. However, Jesus did not make any such exceptions.
When Jesus cleansed the temple, he threw out the corrupt money changers.
12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” (Matthew 21:12,13)
Money changers would assess a foreign coin for its type, wear and tear, and validity, then accept it as deposit, recording its value in local currency. The merchant could then withdraw the money in local currency to conduct trade or, more likely, keep it deposited: the money changer would act as a clearing facility.
Do Jesus’ Teachings Apply Here and Now?
Some argue that Jesus’ ethical teachings are unrealistic ideals just intended to show us how sinful we are, not commandments we must obey. Others will say Jesus was describing the ethics of the kingdom of God of the future rather than a code to live life by in this world. Are those beliefs consistent with biblical teaching?
Jesus presented His ethical teachings as God’s commandments for here and now, and He never spoke of any exceptions. As people who aspire to belong to the kingdom of God, we must be “in the world, but not of the world”:
21 “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.
Jesus made this remark:
22 When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’
23 Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’ (Matthew 7:21–23)
11 And now I am coming to you; I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. Holy Father! Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as you and I are one.
12 While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me. I protected them, and not one of them was lost, except the man who was bound to be lost—so that the scripture might come true.
13 And now I am coming to you, and I say these things in the world so that they might have my joy in their hearts in all its fullness.
14 I gave them your message, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. (John 17:11-14).
Jesus also made this statement:
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?
47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.
48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.
49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” (Luke 6:46–49)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (NRSV, Matthew 7:13–14)
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” (NLT, Matthew 19:17)
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (NRSV, John 14:15)
It is clear thaat both God and Christ expect us to live according this moral/ethical code during this lifetime.
What if We Fail to Keep Jesus’ Commandments?
We are all imperfect humans, and we are all sinners in our own ways (Romans 3:21-24, 5:12, 1 John 1:8). We will never be able to completely comply with the high ethical standards Jesus set. But that is hardly an excuse for not trying our very best! (Matthew 25:24-30, Romans 2:1-4)
When we do fail, we can take comfort in knowing that God is merciful and is always willing to give us another chance when we sincerely repent.
The Importance Of Our Character And Conduct
When Paul left Timothy as a elder in the Ephesian church and as a young man he was forced to deal with some hard issues that had cropped up among the people of God. And even though Paul was planning on visiting soon, his heart was so heavy for the people of this church that he wrote everything down and sent it to Timothy as a letter.
In Ephesian chapter 4, Paul mentions some of the problem behaviors that had developed:
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
27 nor give place to the devil.
28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
A part of Paul’s concern was how these Christians were conducting themselves as the church. Christian character and conduct mattered to Paul. But have you ever wondered why it is so important? Is it really that big of a deal to follow a bunch of rules?
Whether we follow Jesus or the world, we are held to rules and a standard of living. Murder, stealing, lying, cheating, and abuse of various kinds are universally unacceptable. But for the world they are unacceptable because they cause chaos, disrupting the peaceful life that people long for. Much of the world’s reasoning is driven by self-love. This is not entirely a bad thing, but it is not the best thing.
As Christians we have a code of conduct that we are called to – not because of what we can get out of it – but because of who God is, and who we are as His people.
When God commands us to not steal but share generously, this is because He is a God of generosity who never takes what isn’t His. When God calls us to love sacrificially or forgive completely, it is because this is what He does. What God does stems from His very nature. And when God calls us to holy living, it is not only because He is holy, but because we are now His holy people, cleansed and declared to be righteous in God’s sight through the work of His Son, Jesus.
Once we too were a people who were driven by self-interest. Now we have been saved to be a people driven by love for God and others. The call to right living according to God’s standards is a call to godliness. Godliness is like God-like-ness. We are called to reflect the God who saved us, provides for us, hears us, loves us, and changes us.
Ultimately, true godliness is seen in Jesus. He is the “mystery of godliness” because once He had been hidden, but now He took on flesh and is godliness personified, and His godliness is credited to us. This is what gives us good standing before our God. And this standing gives us the freedom to obey our Lord.
As Christians and as the Church we are to conduct ourselves in a manner that shows our changed heart, our gratitude for our salvation, and our love for the One who died for us.
How can a Christian know what he may or may not do?
Here is where using having a truly Christian mindset is of great value. When answering the question above, a Christian would ask themselves these sort of questions and keep these sorts of questions in mind:
1. Does it have the ‘appearance’ of wickedness?
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
2. Does it bring glory to God? In I Corinthians 10:31, we read this plain statement:
“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Before you engage in the activity in question, can you honestly ask for God’s blessing upon it, believing that He will be honored through your participation?
3. Is it “of the world”? If it is, then it is not “of Christ.” He said concerning His disciples,
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).
He was not “of the world” at all. He was in it, but not of it.
15 Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father.
16 Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world.
17 The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever.
(1 John 2:15-17)
4. Would the Lord have done it? He has left us an example that we should follow His steps:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
5. Would you like to be found doing it when the Lord returns?
Someone has wisely remarked, “Don’t do anything, say anything, or go anywhere that would cause you shame if the Lord should come!”
These mindset is very similar to the thinking of the servant who had recieved the 1,000 talents in Jesus’ parable found in Matthew 25:14-30. Recall what the Master’s response was to that servant?
24 Then the servant who had received one thousand coins came in and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man; you reap harvests where you did not plant, and you gather crops where you did not scatter seed.
25 I was afraid, so I went off and hid your money in the ground. Look! Here is what belongs to you.’
26 ‘You bad and lazy servant!’ his master said. ‘You knew, did you, that I reap harvests where I did not plant, and gather crops where I did not scatter seed?
27 Well, then, you should have deposited my money in the bank, and I would have received it all back with interest when I returned.
28 Now, take the money away from him and give it to the one who has ten thousand coins.
29 For to every person who has something, even more will be given, and he will have more than enough; but the person who has nothing, even the little that he has will be taken away from him.
30 As for this useless servant—throw him outside in the darkness; there he will cry and gnash his teeth.’
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28
6. Can you feel free to do it when you remember that God the Holy Spirit dwells within you?
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19). See also Ephesians 4:30:
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
7. Is it fitting conduct for a child of God? When a king’s son acts in an unworthy manner, he brings disgrace on his father’s name. So does the Christian who behaves in an unbecoming way.
“For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” (Romans 2:24)
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)
8. What effect will your conduct have on others? Will it be a good testimony to the unsaved, or from your conduct will they draw the conclusion that there is really no difference between a Christian and an unbeliever?
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Also, will it cause someone who is young in the faith to stumble? The Apostle Paul warned that no man should put “a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Romans 14:13).
9. Finally, is there the least bit of doubt in your mind about it? If so, then don’t do it, for “he that doubteth is damned [condemned]…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
In connection with this subject of what a Christian may or may not do, it is well to remember that “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14,15). This does not mean that we may do as we like, but rather it means we want to do what God likes because He has done so much for us. God’s principles that formed the bases for the Mosaic Law are eternal.
We do not avoid worldly pleasures and amusements because we have to, but because we want to. The reason we want to is because Christ died for us, and now our ambitions are to live in a manner that will please Him
(2 Corinthians 5:14,15).
Christ does not say, “If you keep away from sinful pleasures, you will be a Christian.” But He does say, in effect, to the believer, “You are a Christian! Now live in a way that is consistent with your high calling.”
And so Paul wrote:
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”(Ephesians 4:1)
It is quite possible that a Christian may forget his dignified position, and go in for the things of the world. In such a case, one must keep in minds the words we read in the Book of Hebrews chapter 10:
26 For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us.
27 Instead, all that is left is to wait in fear for the coming Judgment and the fierce fire which will destroy those who oppose God! (Hebrews 10:26-27)
It is important to recognize that these are not things we produce primarily through our own effort; rather they come from the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation in our lives (2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17).
At the same time, we are told to obey God and to do our best to conform to His will. Philippians 2:12–13 says it this way: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Also recognize that the Spirit’s work in us is progressive. Christians will mess up; our behavior will not always adhere to God’s holy standards or be a very good demonstration of His work in us. But when we fail, we can trust that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). We can confess our sin and move forward, trusting in God’s grace and faithfulness (1 John 1:9).
Walking out Christian behavior not only honors God in us to others; it also protects us from the war against the fleshly desires within ourselves: “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11; see also Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:14).
Being a disciple Of Christ requires a transformation. We are not born servant of Christ. And during our lives we pick up many ungodly beliefs and traits from the corrupt world we have been born into. False teachers of Christianity lie to you when they tell you that there is no need to repent, reform, and quit leading a sinful life. And those sheperds mislead and stumble when they tell you, “God loves you just the way you are!”
Remember the apostle Paul’s warning:
9 Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts
10 or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves—none of these will possess God’s Kingdom. 11 Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have
been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthian 6:9,10)
We must conform our personality and behaviors to the example Jesus set for us to follow.
This article has examined both the character and the behaviors that are pleasing to God and those that are displeasing to to Him and Christ based upon what the Bile teaches concerning thinking and character that reflect true Christianity.