Category: Christian Conduct


Every Day is Election Day for the Christian  

Our text today has a profound message for the Christian. Our true salvation and security does not come from Washington DC. It is not dependent on who is in the White House and some political office.  

 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin with us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

Next year, November 2016, Americans are going to elect a president that will lead our country for the next four years. All elections are important, but they are in the past and they had a important part in bringing our nation to its present condition.

      This coming election, too, is important; especially because of the great threat our world is facing and because it is in such unsettling times.

There is much at stake. Our nation for many years has been moving further and further away from the biblical principles on which is was founded and which made it the most powerful nation in the world.

At stake is the advancement of the Devil’s agenda for the destruction of this country.

What is at stake in our nation is the advancement of the agenda of those who have made the murder of innocent unborn children legal and socially acceptable.

At stake is the advancement of the Devil’s agenda of bringing homosexual behavior to the point of being fully accepted not only in our society, but in churches as well.

At stake is the future of our children. Who are being bombarded by the those of the homosexual community who have taken over our schools, our courts and government. Yes, I did not say they were trying to take them over….they have already won these institutions.

America is in fact fast becoming the rebirth of Sodom and Gomorrah. No nation or civilization has lasted that allowed homosexuality (and gay marriage) to become part of its society. God said He would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if only then righteous people could be found. That shows the influence of Christians on their nation. Lot lost most of his family…and that shows the destructive influence this gross sin has even on the families of the righteous.

I encourage you to go to the polls in 2016 and vote the way God directs us in His word to vote. Vote for those who best reflect the morality and principles of God who Created us.

But our text today has a profound message for the Christian. Our true salvation and security does not come from Washington DC. It is not dependent on who is in the White House and some political office. Yes, it is important to have those in public office who are moral, decent God-fearing persons and we pray that they will be the one’s who govern us….but sadly those kind of people rarely get elected. The immoral times we live in is reflected in the immoral leaders that have been elected. Our government is full of openly homosexual people.

How then does God instruct us?

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

I. What is more important…..a Christian president or you as a child of God living a godly life? Each of us here today is voting everyday of our lives……we are voting for righteousness and for the Lord…..or we are voting for Satan. Our vote either honors God or it honors Satan.

      A. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

B. What does that verse say will bring the blessings of God?

      1. “If my people.” Who are “my” people?
      2. God answers His question. “Which are called by my name.”
      3. How many of us here call ourselves “Christians?”
      4. What does the name Christian mean? It means those who identify themselves with Jesus the Christ….God incarnate in the flesh, our Savior, our Lord and our God.
      5. Certainly this passage is addressing those who call themselves Christians.

C. The verse presents three promises of God.

      1. He promises to “….hear from heaven”
      2. He promises to “….forgive their sins.”
      3. He promises to ” ….heal their land”

D. Dear friends do not we today, in this land, and in this church, and in our families, and in our personal lives….need God to hear us? Do we need God’s forgiveness? Do we not need our land to be healed?

E. I want also to point out that when God offers us His blessings it is always because we have a need…..and He is offering to help us, to take our burden, to bless us. Further with the offer of His good blessing there is always qualifications for receiving the blessings.

      1. God cannot bless error, nor sin, nor those who ignore Him and will not live by faith. Hebrews 11:6 plainly states it is impossible to please God without faith.
      2. What faith? A faith that daily lives for the Lord. A faith that produces faithfulness in our lives. A faith that gets us to church, a faith that longs to express itself in worship and thanksgiving to the Lord for all He has done for us. It is a faith that controls our mouths, that orders our steps. It is a faith that takes the God given responsibility to raise our children to love the Lord. It is a faith that rejects worldliness and worldly pursuits that rob us of giving God His place in our lives.

II. What are the conditions God states for giving His blessings?

A. God says “If we will humble ourselves…” The presence of humility in a believer’s life is the heart and soul his being able to live the good and wonderful life God has ordained for us.

1. Oh what pain and heartache the believer bears who will not submit themselves humbly to the Lord.

2. How many professing Christians are in a constant war with God? Knowing what is right…yet fighting with God, trying to justify our sins and unfaithfulness.

3. How many professing Christians are miserable because there is unconfessed sin in their lives. Sin that separates us from the peace and joy of knowing God. To proud to repent as 1 John 1:9 says and admit our sins to the Lord and ask Him to remove them from us.

4. How many folks in churches are too proud to forgive others. The importance of forgiveness is clearly emphasized in the Model Prayer the Lord gave His disciples. Jesus said to forgive others their trespasses against us…just like God has forgiven the believer. He also said….if we refused, He could not forgive us. What should we forgive….what trespasses….all of them without exception.

5. What a wonderful thing it is to be as peace with others….to hold no grudges, to put aside bitterness and anguish. To have the darkness of an unforgiving spirit be removed. When we forgive, turn the matter over to the Lord…it is like a fresh summer breeze that invigorates and lifts our spirits

B. If my people will pray.

1:James 4:2-3  says “. . . yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

2. Living by faith means being dependent on God. Being dependent on God means consulting Him daily as we live our lives. It means to involve Him moment by moment in all we do.

3. It means expressing our thanksgiving to the Lord for thanking Him constantly for His suffering and sacrifice for us. How calloused we can be….living without having a grateful heart and expressing it to the Lord.

4. How foolish we are too…in that we do not ask for God’s help. We go about our business in our own self sufficiency ignoring God. This results then in God not being able to strengthen and help us…..we rob ourselves of His blessing and then cry and blame God for not helping us…..when the problem is not with God but with us.

5. What a wonderful thing it is to live praying always to God as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

D. “…if will seek my face” This is not simply rhetoric. What does it mean to “seek God’s face.”

1. This is stated in the New Testament also. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at  the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” Col. 3:1–2).

2. When you see someone’s face you are standing in front of them. It means you are in their presence. It means they are looking at you and you have their attention.

3. In Revelation 22: 4-5 God gives us a glimpse of the future heaven He has promised to those who believe in Him. The passage says, “And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

4. It means to be able to stand unashamed in the present of God in all His righteousness and holiness.

Psalm 34:1-6.

1: I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

E. ” and turn from their wicked ways.”

        1. We want to gloss over sin. Often we try to justify our unfaithfulness to the Lord.
        2. We make all kinds of excuses as to why we allow sin in our lives.
        3. We often read this passage and say to ourselves that we are not wicked….because this refers to gross sins. But dear friend…it that really what it means?
        4. It is not wicked to leave God out of our daily lives. It is not wicked to shun worship. It is not wicked to take His day, Sunday, a day of worship and spend it like the world does.
        5. Is it not wicked when there is little or no difference in our lives than the lost around us.
        6. What a joy to be in fellowship with the Lord. What a peace comes from being reconciled to Him. What an example we are for the Lord in our families, church and neighbors when we turn from wickedness unto godly faithful living.Conclusion: God’s sure promises.

A. How many of us here really want God to hear us, forgive our sins and heal our land.

B. How many here are tired of the Devil’s substitutes. How many are tired of being miserable inside, in constant conflict with ourselves and those around us.

1. How many of us want the peace and joy of our salvation?

2. How many of us want to see our children, our families, our neighbors saved and living for the Lord?

C. God’s promises are sure. He our God and Creator has told us the way to peace and to live the best life we can.

      1. Do we believe Him?
      2. Do we really want His blessings?
      3. The choice is ours.

D. God puts the conditions on His blessing because He will not violate our wills. He will not force Himself on us, nor make us live good and godly lives. He wants it for us….He died on the cross to make it available to us….but He will not force you or me to do right.

E. If God spoke in a audible voice to you this morning. If He beckoned you to turn wholly to Him….to turn in repentance to serving Him…would you do it.

      Do you believe I have preached this passage correctly? I will answer the question myself….. YES absolutely. God has spoken here this morning.

The hope of our nation will not be determined by any Tuesday’s election….but daily, as those who profess to be Christians, vote their true hearts by how they live their lives.

Every day is Election Day for the Christian….We are electing to serve the Lord or to serve our Enemy Satan. We are casting our vote at God’s polling place. That polling place is where we live. Our families, neighborhoods, work place, community and yes….in our church.

The choice is living in the blessings of God….or the under the destructive curse of sin and unfaithfulness. It is a choice of honoring Jesus Christ who suffered and died for us…or living with a callous which ignores God’s love and why He wants to help us live godly, successful, lives of peace and joy.

 

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Christians are both sinners and saints. All human beings are sinners because we are born in sin. But not all humans are saints. According to the Bible, a saint is not someone who has done wonderful things, nor is it someone who has been deemed a saint by a church or organization. The word translated “saint” in the New Testament, hagios, literally means “sacred, physically pure; morally blameless or religious; ceremonially consecrated; holy.” In the context of New Testament passages, saints are those who belong to the body of Christ, saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). In other words, saint is another word for a Christian, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a clear biblical truth that all are born in sin and all have a sin nature. Scripture says that God created humankind originally good and without a sin nature: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ . . . God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27). However, Genesis 3 records the fall of Adam and Eve, and with that fall sin entered into the two previously sinless creatures. And when they had children, their sin nature was passed along to their offspring. Thus, every human being is a sinner.

Saints, on the other hand, are not born saints; they become saints by being reborn. Because we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we are all in need of spiritual rebirth, without which we will continue in our sinful state throughout eternity. But God, in His great mercy and grace, has provided the (only) means for turning a sinner into a saint—the Lord Jesus Christ, who came “to give His life as a ransom for many.” When we confess our need for a Savior from sin and accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, we become saints.

There is no hierarchy of saints. All who belong to Christ by faith are saints, and none of us are more “saintly” than our Christian brothers and sisters. The apostle Paul, who is no more of a saint than the most obscure Christian, begins his first letter to the Corinthian church by declaring that they were “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2, emphasis added). In this verse, hagios is translated “saints,” “holy,” and “sanctified” in different Bible versions, leading to the unmistakable conclusion that all who have ever called upon Christ for salvation are saints, made holy by the Lord. We are all “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

We are not saints because we have been declared to be saints by a church, nor can we work our way to sainthood. Once we are saved by faith, however, we are called to certain actions befitting our calling as saints of God. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15–16). Saints are not sinless, but the lives of saints do reflect the reality of the presence of Christ in our hearts, in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Without question the greatest reason that we live for God is our unwavering belief in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through His resurrection from the grave that we have hope and the promise of life eternal with him. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the apostle Paul explains that, because of these promises of a future resurrection and of living eternally in the kingdom, believers have not only the motivation but also eternal responsibilities for our lives here on earth.

The apostle Paul touches on such responsibilities in his concluding statement in the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. He declares that, if we really believe and if we are truly thankful that our resurrection is sure, we should “therefore” demonstrate our assurance and our thankfulness by “standing firm, letting nothing move us” and “always giving ourselves full to the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This, then, is the believer’s responsibility: to stand firm in the faith and give himself completely to the Lord.

The Greek for “standing firm” is hedraios, which literally refers to “being seated, being settled and firmly situated.” The Greek for “letting nothing move you” is ametakinetos, and it carries the same basic idea but with more intensity. It means “being totally immobile and motionless,” indicating that we should not even budge an inch from His will. And with our being totally within the will of God, we are to be “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord,” being careful not to be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

Why did Paul give us this warning? Simply because, if our confident hope in the resurrection wavers, we are sure to abandon ourselves to the ways and standards of the world. Therefore, if there are no eternal ramifications or consequences of what we do in this life, the motivation for selfless service and holy living is gone. In other words, our eternal responsibilities are abandoned.

Conversely, when our hope in the resurrection is clear and certain, we will have great motivation to be attending to the responsibility we have to “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord.” The Greek for this phrase carries the idea of exceeding the requirements, of overflowing or overdoing. A good example of this is found in Ephesians 1:7-8 where the word is used of God having “lavished” upon us the riches of His grace. Because God has so abundantly provided for us who deserve nothing from Him, we should determine to give of ourselves abundantly in service to Him, to whom we owe everything.

The Bible teaches us that our responsibility as believers is to work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted us and leads us in this life. We must fully understand that until the Lord returns there are souls to reach and ministries of every sort to be performed. We are responsible for our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits, and we should invest in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord. James tells us, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Our work for the Lord, if it is truly for Him and done in His power, cannot fail to accomplish what He wants accomplished. Every good work believers do has eternal benefits that the Lord Himself guarantees. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Simply put, our responsibility lies in working for the Lord, whether it is in “looking after orphans or widows in distress” (James 1:27), giving to the hungry, the naked, visiting those in prison (see Matthew 25:35-36), serving in our workplace (see Colossians 3:22), or doing whatever we do (Colossians 3:23). And our motivation is that we have God’s own promise that our work “is not in vain” in the Lord “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).

New CreatureWouldn’t it be great if the Christian life had a check list? A recipe of sorts to provide instructions that we could follow to ensure we were being “good Christians”? Few things in life really work that way. In fact, even recipes followed exactly don’t always turn out. They fail to account for effects of the weather, slight differences in ingredients, variance in oven temperatures, or a number of other factors. And “good” is in the taste buds of the eater. So what does it take to be a good Christian?

Many will say that it means reading your Bible daily, praying at least twice a day, serving at church, tithing, supporting a missionary, evangelizing, and the like. These are all great activities for Christians, but they are not what the Christian life is all about.

A Christian is someone who has been made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and restored to relationship with God. The Christian life is about getting to know God, enjoying Him and bringing Him glory (Isaiah 43:7; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 17:1–5, 22). It is true that when we know God certain actions will naturally result. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). But before that He said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. . . . Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. . . . This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:1–11). Obedience—living the “good Christian” life—flows from a loving relationship. And obedience helps us remain in God’s love and therefore experience His joy.

Being a “good Christian” is not about performing certain actions. It is about growing in love for Christ and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and lives. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the recipe-writer and taste-tester for our lives. As we seek to know God and glorify Him, we also get to enjoy Him (Psalm 73:25—26). The good Christian knows God, enjoys God, and grows in grace.

God's ElectThe Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Galatians 3:11). The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.

In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17 says, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s (2 Corinthians 5:17). He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39 addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habukkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end (Ephesians 1:13-14). The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” The true believer is one who believes to the end.

So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.

The phrase “forgive and forget” is not found in the Bible. However, there are numerous scriptures commanding us to “forgive one another” (Matthew 6:14; Ephesians 4:32). A Christian who does not forgive can reap bitterness and the loss of eternal rewards (Hebrews 12:14-15; 2 John 1:8). Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to forgive. This frees the forgiving one from the past. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not change (Matthew 5:44). Ideally, the offender will seek reconciliation, but if not, the one wronged should still make known his decision to forgive.

In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states that God does not “remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). God is all-knowing. God knows that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, having forgiven us, He treats us as if the sin had not occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not hold our sins against us. In that sense we must “forgive and forget.” If we forgive someone, we must act as if that sin had never occurred. We remember the sin, but we live as if we did not remember it. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

This can be a delicate subject. It is wise to spend time in prayer first, to check our motivation and ask for guidance. There are times when Christians are called upon to “talk to” or try to correct a fellow Christian. Assuming we are talking about a matter of sin in a believers’ life, our motive and intent should always be to bring about repentance and restoration to the erring brother or sister in Christ.

First, our attitude is very important. “Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done” (Ephesians 4:32). It is then that we are more able to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul had a similar warning about attitude: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Here we see that those who are “spiritual,” meaning walking in the Spirit in faith and obedience, should gently restore someone who is in sin, being always aware of how easily we can all be tempted by Satan who wants to ensnare everyone in his traps.

The Bible prescribes the procedure for confronting a sinning brother or sister in an extensive passage on church discipline: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17). Again, this is the procedure for confronting a sinning brother, not someone whose behavior you feel needs modifying in some way or someone who merely irritates or annoys you.

On a different slant, one of the most often quoted scriptures is “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1 KJV). Taken out of context, the verse has been used to incorrectly justify never taking a stand on anything that would require a judgment to be made. Rather, the verse is referring to hypocritical, self-righteous, unfair kinds of judgment, especially where the confronter is guilty of the same sin as the one being confronted.

So, when should Christians talk to or try to correct a fellow Christian? When we have talked to the Lord first, have an attitude of submission and concern for the other person, and are committed to following the procedures outlined in His Word for such a situation.

Studies show that unbelief is indeed on the rise these days. We are living in increasingly secular times and, unfortunately, those who do not believe in the truth of Scripture often seem to have the loudest voices in the public domain. Skeptics are becoming bolder and more vocal, and their influence is seen in education, entertainment, court systems, and government. They have made significant progress toward their goal of having God’s name entirely removed from the public realm.

Add to this the fact that we are living in what some call the most “biblically illiterate times,” and it’s apparent why unbelief is on the rise and why moral standards continue to deteriorate. Other factors include the pervasiveness of secular humanism; the church’s halfhearted adherence to the hard truths God’s Word; the significant growth of New Age and Eastern religions; the attempts to redefine the family; the postmodern rejection of absolutes; and the aggressive rise of the New Atheists.

The bottom line is this – we live in a fallen world and “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As history moves forward, many will move further away from sound biblical doctrine. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1Timothy 4:1). There are plenty of false teachers to keep the lost blinded and aid them in their flight from God (Matthew 24:10-11; 2 Timothy 4:3; 1 John 4:1). The sad truth is that most people do not see the Bible as the absolute authority anymore. As God’s Word continues to be marginalized, unbelief will continue to increase around the world.

The Bible warned against apostasy nearly two thousand years ago: “[People] will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4). Along these lines, John MacArthur has stated, “Our society has grown steadily darker; and the message the church is now giving to the world is more confused and confusing than perhaps any time since the Dark Ages.” His conclusion: “the church needs to get back to the Word of God.” Indeed, getting back to the Word is the only solution; to do anything less is to hide our light under a bushel (Luke 11:33). If we want people to believe, we must give them something to believe in.

The servant of Christ should not lose heart. Despite the increasing unbelief and the growing tide of hostility toward Christianity, there is good news. Jesus told us that, before the end comes, His gospel would be preached in the whole world (Matthew 24:14).  Portions of the Bible have now been translated into more than 3,850 languages, covering 98 percent of the world’s population. Christian radio broadcasts are now accessible to nearly 78 percent of the earth’s population. God’s Word is being preached around the world with tremendous success by multitudes of Christians, many of whom risk their lives every day to spread the gospel. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save” (Isaiah 59:1), even in communist China where it is believed over one hundred million people are following Jesus Christ. World Christian Encyclopedia reports that nearly seventeen million people accept Jesus Christ every year.  Scoffers will multiply (Jude 1:18), but Jesus is still Lord of the harvest, it is still His harvest field, and we still pray for Him to send forth His workers (Luke 10:2).

A Christian can be defined as a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). And in the heart of the Christian resides the Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:11). Now, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9), and this person, then, is not a Christian. Thus, the term “fake Christian” is a misnomer. You are a Christian or you are not a Christian; one is either with God or against God (Matthew 12:30).

That being said, this question is certainly a legitimate one in the minds of many people. And this is likely due to the behavior of some Christians; however, it is also likely because of the behavior of many who think they are Christians or profess to be Christians, but who are not. The reasons many believe they are true Christians when they are not are many and varied. The false teaching that is so prevalent these days is certainly one reason. When churches eschew teaching sound doctrine, the end result will be congregants who do not know the truth of God’s Word. How can they keep in step with the Spirit, when the Truth is not in them?

Also, some believe their recitation of a prayer or responding to an “altar call” alone may have turned them into a Christian. Many believe their religious traditions, such as being baptized as an infant, secured a spot in Heaven for them, or that their plentiful good works alone have put them in good standing with God. And of course some believe church attendance alone guarantees salvation. The point is that many who profess to be Christians are not Christians at all. Yet they complacently remain convinced that all is well with their soul. Sadly, many will live their entire lives believing they were Christians only to one day hear these words from Jesus Christ: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).

The clear teaching of the Bible is that when someone is saved his life will most definitely change as he is a “new creation, the old has gone and the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A true born again Christian will strive to bring glory and honor to Christ by living a life that is pleasing to God (1 Peter 1:15-16, 4:1-4). True saving faith will indeed produce works or “fruit” in the life of the believer (James 2:17, 26). Thus, if there are no works of love in one’s life, a careful self-examination is certainly called for. The apostle Paul instructed those in Corinth to do this very thing: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Indeed, any profession of faith that does not result in a changed life and good works is a false profession and such a person is not a Christian.

Now, even though the lifestyle of true Christians does reflect the presence of Christ in their hearts, we know we are not perfect. Christians do sin and the apostle John makes it clear that we deceive ourselves if we think otherwise (1 John 1:8). And when Christians do sin, rest assured there are multitudes just lying in wait to use their “slip-up” to further denigrate the true body of believers. That is why Paul admonished the church in Thessalonica to abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), and to live in such a way as to “win the respect of outsiders” (1Thessalonians 4:12).

What Christians will not do, however, is engage in repeated or habitual sin (1 John 3:6). One who engages in deliberate and habitual sin is simply proving that he does not know Christ and therefore cannot be abiding in Him even though he may live his life under the vast umbrella of religion and is thought, therefore, by many to be a Christian.

As believers mature in their faith, they will exhibit more and more evidence of their true Christian nature, such as their love for God, repentance from sin, separation from the world, spiritual growth, and obedient living. As Paul told the Romans, the genuine child of God has been set free from sin and has become a slave to God, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6:22).

Here is the simple answer to the question of how important Christian conduct is: VERY IMPORTANT! The Bible is replete with verses that link Christian conduct with how the world sees Christ. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). “By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others” (2 Corinthians 9:13). “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

If we liken Christianity to a movie, our good works can be seen as the trailer. When unbelievers see the love Christians have for one another and the good works they perform, they may think all sorts of evil things about Christians, but they cannot fault their conduct, and this abounds to the glory of God. Even in our witnessing and defense of the faith, we should conduct ourselves with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), not in angry, boastful tones.

The truth of the matter is that the gospel is already an offense to the unbelieving world (1 Corinthians 1:18); Christians should not add to the offense. This sentiment is clearly seen in Peter’s first epistle. He exhorts his readers that, if they’re going to suffer at the hands of evil men, let it be because they’re Christians and not because they were acting sinfully (1 Peter 4:14-16).

Another good portion of Scripture where this point is laid out is in Paul’s letter to Titus. In the second chapter, Paul gives Titus instructions on how to teach his congregation. At three separate points in this chapter, he illustrates the point we’re discussing here. Paul urges Titus to teach young women “to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:5). Likewise, he exhorts Titus “to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8). Finally, Paul tells Titus to admonish slaves “to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9-10). In all three cases, Paul makes the point that Christian conduct is important in not only shutting the mouths of evil men, but also in guarding the integrity of the Word of God.

Consider the alternative. If Christians conduct themselves no differently from the outside world, what good is that? If indeed the outside world is watching and they see no difference between themselves and Christians, what motivation (if any) will there be for them to forego their unbelieving lifestyle? Additionally, and more importantly, the unbeliever is already inherently hostile to the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7-8). If Christians conduct themselves as the unbelieving world does, then all we do is invite scorn and charges of hypocrisy. Consider the feeding frenzy in the unbelieving world whenever a prominent Christian is caught in a scandal.

To be sure, no unbeliever will be saved by the good works of the Christian; the gospel must be presented. Furthermore, we all know that even at our best, we are still prone to sin. Yet the gospel is much more likely to be received positively if it is presented by a person who is humble and gentle than a person who is rude and cantankerous. Our actions can either help or hinder the gospel. As the saying goes, God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick, but imagine how much easier it would be if the stick were less crooked.