Can we stop focusing on behavior?

I know the title makes it sound like I don’t care about Christian behavior, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I think Christian behavior is very important, and I believe that God wants His followers to live a life of holiness.

All I know is this: When I tried really hard to achieve a certain behavior, I almost always fell flat on my face and failed.  Romans 7 tells us that the more laws I give myself to abide by the greater my chances are to give into sin.  If this is the case, then what is the key to behaving appropriately as a follower of Jesus?

Let’s take any number of things: (Examples: not eating too much, not looking at porn, not losing one’s temper, not cheating on a test, obeying mom and dad completely, submitting to one’s boss, choosing to forgive).  If one tries very hard to do those things, then one could end up doing the exact opposite of what they are trying hard to do.

So what could one do instead?  My first thought is to look at the “why” question.  Why is one eating too much or looking at porn?  Why does one not want to obey or submit?  Why does one choose not to forgive?  It is very possible there is some unresolved hurt or fear that is producing this unwanted behavior.  One must go to God so they can experience Him comforting their hurt or loving them through their fear.

God wants holy living for sure, but Romans 8:26-27 tells me God wants to be with me in my struggle, not just me willing myself to right behavior.  Not only that Romans 8:28-30 tells me God wants to conform me into what He already sees me to be.  This leads me to my second thought.  My focus is not on my behavior but who I am in Christ.  As a follower of Jesus, I am:

  • Declared Holy
  • Made Righteous
  • Called God’s Friend
  • Spiritually made alive in Christ
  • Seated with Christ in the Heavenlies (this is very hard for me to wrap my heart and mind around)

When God heals my heart, and I rest in my identity in Christ, then I believe right life behavior is a natural overflow.  This is the journey I want to walk with Him.

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Where is God’s Word?

I must admit that I have a bit of the prophet Elijah in me.  There are days I am ready to take on the 400 prophets of Baal like Elijah did in I Kings 18, and there are other days where discouragement and fear overwhelm me like it did Elijah in I Kings 19.

It just seems to me that God’s Word has been taken out of our culture and in some cases, out of the church.  We see the effects of this with sexual sin being so prevalent and with internet pornography being so pervasive.  If I am not careful I can respond like Elijah in I Kings 19 and just be afraid and be consumed in sadness over this.  I do not think that is the response that God wants.

I believe how God wants us to respond to this crisis is the same way that Josiah responded in II Kings 22-23.  God’s Word had been lost for quite some time.  According to II Kings 21-22, it appears that God’s Word had been lost (removed from culture if you will) for 75 years.

As God’s Word was found, did Josiah shrink back in fear?  Was he overwhelmed by the issue?  Did he allow himself to be consumed by discouragement?  No, he simply responded to God in 2 ways: brokenness and boldness.  His heart was broken before God as he considered all of the false idol worship that was taking place among God’s people, and he boldly removed false idol worship from the land.

This is the response I believe God would want us to have.  Could we see God in His Kindness and His Holiness and be broken over the results of God’s Word being removed from our culture?  Could we see God in His Love and Majesty and be empowered to boldly rid our land of the false idol worship of internet pornography?

May we attack this issue with brokenness and boldness!

What empowers/motivates us?

What motivates and empowers one to obey God and walk in holiness and faithfulness?  I really used to think it was a simple answer: “That is what I am supposed to do, and God will be upset with me if I don’t”.  It was almost like I was trying to earn God’s acceptance by performing in life correctly.

I can tell you that now I certainly do not believe that.  Why do I obey Him?  Why do I pursue holiness?  Why do I honor my marriage covenant through faithfulness to my wife?  Why do I say “no” to porn when the world around me says its okay?  I am motivated and empowered to obey God and walk in holiness and faithfulness because I am accepted by God through the saving work of Christ on the cross.  As I love and obey God, I am loving and honoring my wife.

How incredible is this acceptance God has for us?  Ephesians 1 tells the follower of Christ these things:

  • Chosen before the foundation of the world
  • Predestined to be adopted as His children
  • Purchased with Christ’s blood on the cross
  • Forgiven completely
  • God’s incredible grace lavished on me

These are incredible truths.  The challenge is for me to live my life out of God’s acceptance of me.  When I do this, I love Christ by walking in holiness and honor/love my wife as I am faithful to my marriage covenant.