Archive for the ‘God’s goodness’ Tag

Sin is Still Sin!   Leave a comment

Whenever a Christian misrepresents the character of God in his/her behavior by infidelity, dishonesty, greed, strife, jealousy, anger, dissensions, drunkeness, immorality. then the intent of God to express His character through that Christian is not taking place. That is a tragic misrepresentation of the life of Jesus Christ.

As we allow Jesus to express His goodness in our behavior, which manifests God’s grace, we conversely disallow “fleshly indulgences” (Colossians 2:23), which religious moralism was impotent to deal with (Romans 7). We disallow fleshliness to be selfishly and sinfully expressed in our behavior. This is how we “deny ourselves” (Luke 9:23) and “abstain from every form of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22). As we allow Christ to manifest His goodness in our behavior, He supersedes and disallows the misrepresentative sinful behaviors. The positive swallows up the negative.

Jesus Christ wants to express His character of goodness in the social community of the Church. The Church is the “Body of Christ” intended to collectively express the character of Christ. The Church is the “People of God” expressing the character of God’s goodness. Paul wrote, “Let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). The particular emphasis on God’s goodness as revealed in the Church reminds us that God wants to demonstrate the social community that He intended for man as we allow the Creator to function within His creatures. Through the example of the churches God wants to show that man can dwell together with man in “peace,” when they allow God’s goodness to be expressed through individual relationships.

The apostles wrote about a Church where God’s people could get along with one another in goodness as each person is receptive to God’s love and goodness, expressed to one another, despite diversity of race, sex, age, nationality, intelligence, personality type, difference of opinion ….

 How we doing so far, Church?

Yeah, I think we have some problems.

Behavioral goodness is a fruit of the Spirit of Christ. It never issues from the soul of man, which is still entangled by sin. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…”(Galatians 5:22,23). “The fruit of the Light consists in all goodness…”(Ephesians 5:9). “We walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work…”(Colossians 1:10).

It is not that we produce or manufacture goodness or perform goodness, but we bear the fruit of goodness derived from interacting with God’s divine character. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

As Christians, our focus must be on Jesus Christ as the divine source of all goodness. “We fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Our theology, our lives, our relationships must be Christocentric; not morality-centered, not even good-centered, but God-centered, Christ-centered.

“Christianity leads you on, out of morality, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we shall call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. pg. 130)

The distinctive of Christianity and Christian behavior is that Christians are looking only at the source of all things in Christ and deriving all from Him by the dynamic of His grace.

Ah, I think we’ve just discovered what is wrong with the Church today. Maybe we’re losing society’s interest because we’re not looking at Jesus and we’re trying to conform ourselves to the world rather than being conformed to Christ.

Freedom In Christ   2 comments

True Biblical Christians do not think we are good. We think God can do good through us.

That’s an important distinction. Salvation doesn’t mean we’ve become good, but that we have become conduits of God’s goodness. “The container never becomes the contents,” Jacques Ellul wrote. “The entire Bible constantly iterates that nothing has changed intrinsically or ontologically in this person who has been enlightened by the revelation. He is saved. He is justified. He is sanctified, but he is still himself.” (To Will and To Do. pg. 210)

Becoming Christians may have turned on the light for us, but as we’ve never seen the furniture before, we are still incapable of recognizing it. Concepts of good and evil do not come to us naturally.

And this is where Christianity has often gone off the rails. Jesus was perfect, He lived a sinless life. We are to look toward Him as an example in how to live our lives. But He is merely our example. We did not become Him.

Paul’s explanation of Christian behavior is that of “the manifestation of the life of Jesus in our mortal bodies” (2Corinthians 4:10,11); not by any human imitation of Christ’s behavioral goodness. Christian living is not “monkey see, monkey do,” the apeing of reproduced external behavior. The character of God’s goodness manifested in our behavior. “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

To whatever degree we express behavioral goodness it is not by or through our own effort. Jesus said: “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing that manifests the character of God. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing good. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing that glorifies God. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing that qualifies as Christian behavior.

Do you hear me, Christians?

Goodness is known and activated only by God’s grace, which is God’s activity consistent with His character. By His grace, God reveals Himself and His intent to us in a personal and intimate way, informed by the Bible and accountable to the congregation, but stemming from our “sitting under” His instruction in the obedience of faith.

As Christians we must continue to be available and receptive in faith to the expression of God’s goodness in our behavior. “He who began to good word in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

The “good work” is not perfection in conforming to a “standard of goodness” or mustering up good behavior, but in letting God use us to accomplish His work.

Jesus allows us the freedom to express His goodness in our lifestyle. Such expressions are not forced upon Christians. We still have freedom of choice. And freedom comes in “flavors”. Often, we think of freedom in Christ as a freedom from something — sin, death, immorality, but there is also freedom to God’s intent. Some people fear a lack of moral code as a lapse into lawlessness, but if God be our guide, there is no way we can stumble.

Jesus wants to express His character of goodness in consistent, practical Christian behavior. We don’t want to be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good. God is a practical Deity and Christian living has to do with expressing God’s goodness in all of our interpersonal relationships — husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, friends, acquaintances, and the general public.

Paul warned “Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (Galatians 5:13). I know some anarchist-type Christians who advocate against moralism and repudiate all behavioral considerations and preaching. They’ll tolerate any behavior in the name of “freedom”. That may be a valid secular backlash against moralism, but it will lead to social chaos apart from the recognition of God’s grace expressed as goodness.

Sin is still sin and it is not derived from God. It does not express the character of God, but is derived from Satan (1John 3:8).

So what does freedom in Christ look like?


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