Christians are told to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV). We are commanded to be the best examples we can be before the world. The Apostle Paul tells us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you are called” (Ephesians 4:1). The word “worthy” means “suitability, bringing up the other beam of the scales, bringing into equilibrium.” /1 Our lives must be consistent, as best we can in our weaknesses, with the life Christ modeled before us. Christians are to yield to a higher calling and strive to live exemplary lives.
Christians, though, are still sinners in need of repentance and the grace of God. Children of God continue to sin, despite their best efforts not to. The Apostle Paul said, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:19). Peter said to beware “fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Even as Christians, we are constantly at war with Satan (Ephesians 6:10-12). And Christians don’t always win these wars (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31).
King David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Yet, he was an adulterer, a liar, and guilty of murder (2 Samuel 11). Peter was also a liar (Luke 22:54-62). Paul called himself the “chief of sinners” because he sent many Christians to their deaths (1 Timothy 1:15; Acts 9:1,2). Yet, these men were powerful proclaimers of God’s Word and great men of God.
One sad reality is that people who are not disciples often carefully examine the lives of Christians in search of flaws. If they can find any sin in the lives of Christians, they will try to capitalize on it. They will throw around the word “hypocrite” and try to do damage to the cause of Christ.
Sinners want to continue in their sin. Yet, not all of them have silenced their consciences. They know they are living sinful lives. Seeing Christians reminds them of their sins. So, if they can remove all vestiges of Christ from society and somehow discredit all the Christians, then they will hopefully, finally, feel good about their sins. They can say that at least they haven’t done (whatever some Christians have done). Denial and rationalization will get someone anywhere they want to go.
This explains why Christians can stand peacefully and quietly in a park holding signs calling certain behaviors sin and be called terrible names and threatened with physical violence. And why certain aspects of sin cannot be brought before the public because of the efforts of politicians and activists. Consciences will be laid bare and sinners simply cannot allow that to happen.
Christians must try to live as God desires so sinners will not have the excuses they need for justification. Christians are to be glorifying God and bringing people to Christ (Ephesians 3:20,21; Matthew 28:18-20). These lofty goals cannot be accomplished when we fall victim to the traps of Satan (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11).
Christians must remain cognizant of their weaknesses and how the blood of Christ continues to cleanse (1 John 1:7). We must strive to lead godly lives because we wear the name of Christ and present his gospel to the world. When we sin, we bring shame on ourselves, the church, God, and all of his disciples. This burden must always be before our minds and figure into all the decisions we make. Humility will bring us to understand our place in the larger picture and its effects on God’s plan.
1/ Harold Hoehner, Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 504.
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