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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