Judge Not Part 13 – Behaving like a Christian

by Mike Ratliff

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

When I began working on this book, I was intent on presenting to all who read this the facts about the tremendous damage hypocritical judging does within the body of Christ as well as to those who practice it. However, the more I studied and wrote the more I became convinced that Christians judging others is a symptom of something much more dreadful. Just as bitterness and resentment have their roots in pride, judging hypocritically has its roots in spiritual immaturity. The spiritually immature believer’s biggest problem is a lack of humility. The believer’s level of Christlikeness is directly related to how successful he or she is in uprooting pride while cultivating humility in the heart.

By now, we should have very clear picture of the sources of both pride and humility. Pride is the modus operandi of our sin nature. We sin because we are sinners. Our pride separates us from God. In an unregenerate state, a person not only cannot repent and believe the gospel, but also hates it. He or she sees the cross as foolishness. Each person is born into a coffin of sin.

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”, “There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4)

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

Our inborn pride is the lamp of our wicked hearts. God hates the proud and gives grace to the humble. However, not one of us who are in Christ had to quit being proud by taking on the mantle of humility before God saved us. How could God save proud people who had no ability to repent and believe? It takes a miracle.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

This miracle is 100% the work of God. How can a dead person have faith? The faith that saves is a gift of God. It comes at the moment of regeneration. This causes the Born Again believer to see their sinful depravity in relation to God’s holiness. They see that their sin makes them an object of God’s wrath. This spiritual new birth causes the new believer to turn from their sin in repentance to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. This is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation is God’s work and is part of His plan of salvation from the foundation of the world.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-12)

According to this passage, God’s purpose in choosing His people before the foundation of the world was for their predestination unto holiness and blamelessness before Him. How would He accomplish this? In love, He predestined all of His people for adoption through Jesus Christ. What criteria did He use in His election of His people? It was according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace. What does it mean to be “adopted through Jesus Christ?”

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

In this passage, we see the method God uses to transform His people into those who are holy and blameless before Him. The process will conform them unto the image of His Son. It will result in them becoming Christlike. Again, we see that God’s people are adopted into His family as Jesus Christ’s siblings. All whom God predestined, He also called. This calling is the efficacious calling by the Holy Spirit that regenerates the heart of each new believer. All God predestined, He called. All He called, He also justified. What happened between the calling and the justifying? That is the time right after the new birth when the new believer repents and believes. God gives His people the faith to believe, but they must still believe. They must exercise the faith God gives them. What is this justification? This is the act of God whereby He imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ unto the new believer. In turn, He imputes the new believer’s sin unto Jesus Christ. (this happened at the cross) This is a legal or forensic declaration. This act of God does not in any way change the believer. Instead, it changes his or her standing from a lost and dying sinner into one with right standing before Him. After God declares the new believer righteous, He adopts him or her into His family. They are now Jesus Christ’s sibling. The next act of God in the passage above is “glorified.” How does God take each new believer from newly saved spiritual immaturity unto “glorification?” Each believer begins the process of sanctification immediately after salvation. This is the process of maturing each of them unto Christlikeness. The result is holy and blameless mature believers in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is glorification. However, what is sanctification?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Sanctification is the work of God in the heart of His people to transform them from fleshly, prideful, spiritually immature believers unto humble, spiritually mature, Christlike believers. This takes the rest of the believer’s life. We are called to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling as God does His perfect work in us according to His will. That means he will allow tests and trials into our lives that cause us to relinquish control of parts of our lives by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in those areas. This is taking on the Yoke of Christ. This is learning to walk by faith. This is learning to abide in Christ and run the race that God sets before us. Why do we have to go through all of this? We have to learn how to uproot our pride while cultivating humility. We have to give up lordship over our lives as we submit to the Lordship of Christ. This causes us to take on His character. When we do that then we find that we are actually behaving like a Christian.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

Genuine believers will have the ability to live or behave according to the standards listed in the passage from Romans 12:9-21, but that does not guarantee that that will be the case. Many Christians, if not most, never mature to the spiritual level represented in this passage. Why? They do not cooperate with God in fear and trembling in order to work out their own salvation. In other words, when God brings tests and trials into their lives they rebel instead of humbling themselves before God. That is what is meant by fear and trembling. Suffering is no fun. In fact, it can be quite horrible. Disease, death of loved ones, and unemployment are only a few of the things that can come into our lives from the hand of God in order to work His miracle of sanctification in our hearts.

If we rebel or refuse to cooperate with God in this then we make a huge error. We will not grow in grace as deep or as far as God desires for us. Instead, we postpone or delay our submission to Christ’s Lordship. This shortens the amount of time we have in this life to mature in Christ. I am convinced that the majority of Christians exit this life spiritually incomplete. What I mean by that is they are not as mature in Christ as they could have been. Many will stand before their Lord ashamed because they are just as spiritually immature as the day they were reborn. On the other hand, some believers do submit to the refining fires of God’s pruning. (John 15) They do grow in grace as God continues to circumcise their hearts with each act of submission to Christ’s Lordship. As they abide in Christ as the Father puts them through the crucible of refinement, they develop the very character of their savior.

How do they behave? Look at Romans 12:9-21. Look at Matthew 5, 6, and 7. No believer can have these character traits dominant in their heart unless they are Spirit-led. The Spirit-led believer is growing in this character. None of us will ever become perfect in it here in this life. Our sin nature is still in place. Our enemy is still attacking us attempting to cause us to stumble and love our savior less. However, if the maturing believer will pursue godliness in the fear of God he or she will also confess their sins in Repentance with Joy. As believers do this, God graciously grants them repentance that actually changes their character. Hypocrisy is being driven from their character with each step in maturity. As hypocrisy is denied, so is pride. As pride is uprooted, humility flourishes. As humility dominates the believer’s character, so does Christlikeness. The Christlike believer does not judge hypocritically.

Oh Lord God, You are perfect, holy, and righteous. You grow us in grace so that we can take on Jesus’ character. Thank you for that Lord. Teach us to behave like Christians. After all, the word Christian means little Christ. If we are to be called by that name, let us act like Him. Oh Lord, I pray for you Kingdom to come. I pray for you will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Come soon Lord. In the meantime Lord, please continue to pour out your grace upon us, imparting unto us you wisdom and discernment. I ask all these things in Jesus Name—Amen!

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

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