Category: How important is Christian conduct ?


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.