Genuine Christian Character

by Mike Ratliff

18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 19 And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:18-21 NASB)

R.C. Sproul once shared the following encounter, “Several years ago I was participating in a discussion with some business men in Jackson, Mississippi. In the course of the conversation, one of the men made reference to a man who was not present at the meeting. He said, ‘He is an honorable man.’ When I heard this comment, my ears perked up as I thought for a moment I was hearing a foreign language being spoken. I realized that I was in the middle of the Deep South where customs of old had not entirely been eradicated, yet I still could not get over that somebody in this day and age was using the word honor as descriptive term for a human being.” Is the term ‘honor’ as a descriptive term for a human being out of place in our day and time? If we look up ‘honor’ in our dictionaries we will find that its chief synonym is ‘integrity.’

Before we begin to determine the lack of this characteristic in the current body of Christian believers, especially among its leadership, let us define what we mean. Integrity describes one who has an uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles. It describes one who possesses soundness of character. There are many more definitions, but this is enough for now. A honorable person is a man or woman of principle. He or she puts principle ahead of personal gain. Also, they do not compromise their principles. That would mean that once they grasp the truth they would never let go, no matter the cost.

As long as this blog has existed, one of the major attacks against my posts has been that the results of my Bible Studies I present as truth. The resultant attacks can be quite ugly. Why? It is because I did not say what I presented could possibly be wrong and the opposing views could be right. If I believed that then I wouldn’t have bothered posting them. What sort of truth is it that we can say, “this is the truth, but I could be wrong and your view could possible be true too.” That’s not standing on principle. That’s called compromise. Some would call it political correctness. This is why I despise our political system in the United States. Politicians must often compromise everything, including their principles in order to function. That is not right. That is why I could never hold public office.

Compromise is with us wherever we go. It seems that our entire lives are challenges to our principles. Those of us who are Christians experience this on an even higher plane. I promise you, the world system is anti-everything that God tells us from His Word that should makeup genuine Christian character.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:11-16 NASB)

When Christians uncompromisingly stand on their principles, which are the very ones our Lord gives us through our sanctification, which are also born from our regenerated hearts, the world seethes in anger. These honorable people will be reproached, persecuted and falsely accused of all kinds of evil. None of that is pleasant, however, it is our lot if we seek to live godly lives.

12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 NASB)

To live godly in Christ Jesus is to emulate Him. He is the epitome of honor and integrity. How can we do this since we are mere clay pots who have no goodness in us other than what God has put in? Well, what He has given us is enough. What is “it?” We have the Holy Spirit. How can that fact help us live godly in Christ Jesus?

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 NASB)

We do not simply let go and let God here. If we do then we will find ourselves in spiritual squalor. We will have no self-control and our flesh will dominate us. In other words, we will not be people of honor and integrity and, therefore, not Christlike. What we must do is be filled with the Spirit. How do we do that? If we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand of sanctification, we will submit to those whom God wills. We will worship Him instead of self. We will walk by faith not by sight. That means that temptations to not be honorable can be defeated and left powerless because they depend on our functioning within our flesh and pride.

It’s time to do some self-examination. When we read or hear of God’s sovereignty how do we respond? If we detect any resentment or any temptation to compromise by convincing ourselves that some passage from Sacred Scripture does not really mean what it says then we are in functional unbelief. If we try to force God to live up to our standards of fairness or logic or any other flesh contaminated reasoning then we are in functional unbelief. Another name for this is Selective Rationalization. A hardening of the heart causes this condition. What causes that? Heart hardening is a symptom of pride reigning there. Pride can easily masquerade as humility and fool its host into believing that he or she isn’t really spiritually blind and in unbelief.

What must we do? We must forget our own suppositions and made up doctrines we have developed in our own minds as we honestly and honorably seek the truth. This does require us to submit to God’s Sovereignty here. We must draw near to Him. If we do this, He will draw near to us. We must ask Him for wisdom and discernment and knowledge so we can live for His glory alone. If we humble ourselves this way, God will give us more faith to believe what His shows us. By His grace, through that faith, God will open our hearts further and teach us His truth.

If we do these things then God will change us. He will develop Christ’s character in us. Some of this may not be pleasant. We may move away from traditions and beliefs we have held with our friends and families for lifetimes. However, being honorable Christians who have Christ’s integrity growing in us, we do not compromise. We move forward with our Lord. Yes, we do tell the truth to those we left behind in their unbelief, but unless they also repent as they seek the truth, they will see us as something other than what Christ is developing in us. That is where the warnings from our Saviour come in.

What’s it going to be then? Are we going to continue to insist that God do things our way or are we going to surrender to His sovereignty in all things by humbling ourselves in repentance and move forward with Him?

Soli Deo Gloria

12 thoughts on “Genuine Christian Character

  1. As we emulate Christ how far do we go? ?He kept Biblical feasts including Sabbath,kept the Mosaic Law and said not one jot or tittle of it would pass away until heaven and earth pass away.


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  3. Hi Mike, first off, i want to say that i do not consider myself a christian, with a small or a capital C…That said, I studied the Bible in depth at Brown University many years ago, nearly majoring in Religious Studies, and in the end with a major in Ancient and Medieval Culture, i spent most of my time on the history of Christianity and the foundations/ fundamentals of the Bible (which are not precisely the same things). I found your arguments here, or not argument exactly, but statements of interest nonetheless, even though i do not come from a Christian persuasion. I too find myself dismayed by the lack of honor and integrity (and indeed by how little such “virtues” are even valued these days). Sometimes these days it seems as if the only time “honor” is an issue is over “snitching” on a miscreant, when it is valued over all things…

    What bothers me, however, is the emphasis in so many so-called and self-professed “christians” on acquiring wealth and material goods, in a every person for him or herself mentality (which i believe is fostered by the Christian emphasis on individual salvation alone) , and a singular refusal to serve any community but the faith community, and then only in specifically “religious” or spiritual ways. Whatever happened to the radical call of Jesus to ALL people, not just to a few apostles, but to everyone…”give away all that you have, and come follow me.” Jesus specifically told us that the a rich man would find it as dfficult to enter the kingdom of heaven…as a camel through the eye of a needle. Right? Now you can read that metaphorically if you wish, and tell me that the Needle’s Eye is merely a town gate…but that was never the point, either Jesus’ or mine: if someone, whether christian or atheist is a person of honor and integrity, surely that implies certain values as well, such as elevating generosity and other virtues over the base vices of greed and selfishness (exemplified by megachurches that do nothing but extort tithes that they plough right back into their own church development funds…which i find both a travesty of christian values but also a near obscenity…)

    Well, enough said, for now. I have only been able to read this one post. I do not know whether i would find any others appealing or too conservative and/or so “religious” as to be appalling to me. That doesnt mean i wont read them to find out. I just wanted to comment here, because i liked what you said about honor and integrity, and i hope always to build bridges even with those whose beliefs i don’t share.

    pam wagner

    Ps the bible says we are called to be subject to ONE ANOTHER not to those in power…or authority! Reading this another way, i would interpret it as saying this means we should defer to each other with respect and kindness. Authority is not part of a true interaction between equals.


  4. Pamela, you are not a believer. Christians take the entire Word in context not individual passages like one statement by Jesus and make it override all other teachings in the Word, which is the inspired Word of God. Context rules. Ephesians tells us that all who are in Christ are in Him INDIVIDUALLY. Each in turn make up part of the Church which is the elkesia, the “Called out ones.” I have no problem sharing the truth with you, but be assured that the goal from that is for you to be drawn by God into the light, that is, into belief.

    The “subject to One another” is talking about being subject to other Christians not me, a Christian, being subject to non-Christians when it comes to theology. Also, if you are educated in theology as you claim then you must know that God is Sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, et cetera, and is therefore the very essence of Truth and, therefore, operates totally within the law of Non-contradiction. Truth is not relative.


  5. Okay, mike. Okay! You missed the point altogether, but hey, that is fine. We dont have to discuss anything. I only meant to comment on honor and integrity but you want to lecture me on..whatever..

    Well, as they say, “I’m outta here!”

    It is always fine for a Christian to use the Bible as a tennis balll, but when it is quoted in context and with understanding by a non Christian, ooh boy, better watch out.

    Like i said, I’ma outtie. Sayonara.


  6. Pamela, I never use the Bible as a tennis ball. I challenge to prove otherwise and I also make the charge that you have nothing more than a surface level understanding of God’s Word. Look at your comment. How many logical fallacies are there in there since you haven’t read but one of my posts?


  7. Greetings to everyone and Pamela,

    I know this is long, but please read it.
    ( :
    I must say (coming from a Christian stand) that I have noticed plenty of problems among the ‘professing’ when it comes to walking obediently to the Word of God. I use the term professing because all I know is that they say they are Christians. Now to be a true Christian, one must be a born again believer (John 3). I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when I was born again and this is when Christ’s nature is poured into us. See Galatians 5; 22-23, Romans 5;5. (The new ‘man’ versus the ‘old’ man, nature, or self.) It is only then that we are able to live a Christlike life and fulfill the commands that Jesus expects us to (if you love Me, you will keep my commandments…love God first, love your neighbor as yourself…).

    The problem with humanity is… human nature, which is… rooted in sin. That is why the world is in trouble, sin is in the world as well as the apostate church today. The root of the problem is sin, we cannot solve it by curing the symptoms, we must go to the root of the problem. And that solution is the gospel of salvation by being saved; born again. Anyone ever notice how all sin stems from greed, ego, lust, and the desire for fame, fortune, and power? The world will never evolve into that utopia of brotherly love, sharing, world peace, unity, justice, and equality because of the root of the problem. That is why Jesus IS the answer and the gospel message is the truth. Humanity is fallen with a sin nature, Christ came to die for our sins and redeem us, He rose again demonstrating His victory over sin and death, the same is available to us when we trust Him for salvation and come to Him, we receive of His nature; divine unconditional sacrificial love.

    The ‘every man for himself’ mentality is of sin as well (greed). The early church practiced a very different way, they had all things in common. (See Acts, the early chapters). Salvation is on an individual basis, but that has nothing to do with greed of others. Some things are individual while others are collective, we are all one in Christ once we are saved, etc. Now generosity and the like are virtues to be extolled in society in general for sure, like ‘do not kill’. There are certain things that are for the church and/or that only the church can carry out with the new nature in them. I feel that the church is called to do both, charity within the church as well as outside of it. We cannot, however, bring any utopia as a result, it is just an instance of charity. There is much in the bible about the rich, the poor, charity, and such things and many churches ignore that. Just for the record, I engage in both types of charity, and I am poor. I know the church has been plagued with selfishness in many ways (I will refrain for now on that topic, as well as politics…) and note that there have also been many infiltrators to do such sabotage. That takes us into the current state of apostasy and the emergent church (2 Thess. 2) which is another trail as well. (It’s not a social gospel, it is spiritual; salvation is for our souls, but there are many social components to living obediently). Some sectors of the church practiced more community, such as the Quakers and the Amish, etc.

    I also have piles of education in many areas and I’m not saying that to brag, just for perspective. I also sense something in this, and I will address it gently. Manuscripts are not perfect, but Jesus is. The bible prophecy in that same verse above says that in the end there would be a great ‘falling away’ from the faith. We see that happening all around. There are many traps set up as pitfalls, now more than ever; but we must go to Him for the real answers when in doubt. “All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6; 37 (That promise does not expire.)

    In the end (which is about here minus the official banner that will be lowered), there will be a one world religious, political, and economic system under a one world leader. It will be advertised to be that utopia many have been waiting for, the big ‘solution’ to rescue the world from all its woes. And, it will look good… for a while. But it’s all the work of the antichrist. And then the action packed thriller sci-fi apocalypse will be unleashed just as prophesied. My point? When you see it unfolding, you will know the words are true. It’s never too late while you still have breath in you to turn back to Him.

    In Christ’s Love,
    ( : ❤
    Blessings to everyone here and glory to God!


  8. One last note; God offers the genuine but the devil offers the parallel counterfeit in so many things. When this time comes, do not follow after all the deceitful and tempting lures of the one world religion, etc. True believers will be ostracized and martyred for their faith.

    I won’t return to discussion in this comment section, but I will be praying.
    ( :


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