This is the first message in our Long-From series called “Consistent Character.” It asks us to consider religiosity and how it relates to Christian character.
A partial manuscript of this 40-minute lesson can be found below. Learn more about this podcast here.
What is Christian character?
A quick internet search yielded these results, which sum things up nicely: “Character is defined as strength of moral fiber. A.W. Tozer described character as ‘the excellence of moral beings.’ As the excellence of gold is its purity and the excellence of art is its beauty, so the excellence of man is his character. Persons of character are noted for their honesty, ethics, and charity.
Descriptions such as ‘man of principle’ and ‘woman of integrity’ are assertions of character. A lack of character is moral deficiency, and persons lacking character tend to behave dishonestly, unethically, and uncharitably.
A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is good to remember that character is gauged by general tendencies, not on the basis of a few isolated actions. We must look at the whole life.”
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”
(ESV “to devote themselves to good works…”)
This devotion to Good works can be a result of good Christian character and an aid in helping us build good Christian character. If it is evidentiary in nature, it will also be a tool for maintaining good Christian character, for character needs constant attention. It could also be remedial in nature, when a person realizes they need to devote themselves in this way because of a deficiency in their character.
The constant affirmation mentioned here is directly related to that which we found earlier in the chapter: that Jesus Christ saved us by His grace and that we have been transformed as a result of this grace.
It seems to me that a person of this understanding will be devoting themselves to good works, not for the purpose of gaining favor with God, but for the purpose of pleasing God out of gratitude and a genuine desire to serve Him!
If our definition of Christian character is accurate – and it is “the sum of [our] disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;