Christianity -- It’s Who You Are
Having spent many of the early years of my youth living outside of the city on some property, I was able to get pretty acquainted with the ins and outs of raising animals. It was not uncommon to see horses, cows, pigs, dogs, cats, or even a captured baby squirrel or two around our home when I was a child. Looking back upon that time, I realize that no one ever had to teach any of those animals how to act like their nature dictates they should. God has given all of these animals an instinct which helps to guide their everyday behavior. When a pig is faced with a mud hole, he knows exactly what to do. No long stares or contemplative moments, he just goes for the mud! Similarly, when a Christian’s life is transformed to be like God desires, they also don’t have to contemplate on what things they should do; it simply becomes natural to them.
Unfortunately, today many Christians seem to approach their lives as a series of checklists to be accomplished which go against what they might really desire to do. I have to go to church 3 times a week, not use bad language, don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t, don’t, don’t…. , while in their heart they would really prefer to do those exact things. They might even be doing all the “right things”, yet they are doing them for the wrong reasons.
Jesus condemned the Pharisees in Luke 11:39 for this exact type of behavior. Their lives (cups) appeared to be nice and clean on the outside, but inside (in their hearts) they were completely dirty because they were neglecting the justice and love of God (Luke 11:42). They meticulously attempted to carry out all of the law, but their hearts were not motivated properly. That is exactly why Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5 and on into chapter 6 was so eye opening to the people of the time. Jesus spoke as no one had previously spoken. He condemned people for thinking on those sinful things in their hearts. He was trying to make the point to all of us that when an individual continually dwells on sinful actions in their heart, it is just a matter of enough time passing or the right opportunity coming along before they will act upon them. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” What we hold in our hearts has a great influence on us spiritually, physically, and mentally.
We must hate sin. It is not that sin isn’t temporarily pleasurable. If it wasn’t, would any of us ever sin? We must hate sin because we understand the effects of sin upon our family and friends, upon our own souls, and especially upon our Lord and Savior. Paul wrote to the Roman brethren in Rom. 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Abhor means to detest, loathe, despise, to cast off or reject. Do we loathe sin? Only if we understand the effects of sin. In I John 3:8, John wrote that everyone who does what is sinful is of the devil. How can we claim to love God, when we continually desire and think on those things that are sinful? I have heard it said that the more a doctor loves his patient, the more he hates their illness. Similarly, the more we love God, the more we will hate the sin which can separate us from God. We read in Hebrews 1:9, “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.” Understanding how our Lord feels about sin gives us a better understanding of why Christians should hate sin. Sin in our life displeases our Lord and makes us unclean.
In order for the outside of man to really be clean, we must first change the inside. We must change our hearts. While listing a series of steps to overcome pride James wrote,”cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts ye double-minded” (James 4:8). In Psalm 51:10 after being confronted about his sin with Bathsheba by the prophet Nathan, David wrote “Create in me a clean heart…” In Psalm 24 while answering the question of who may stand in God’s holy presence, the psalmist wrote in verse 4 “He who has clean hands and a pure heart”. Do you want to be pleasing to God? Better make sure your heart is clean. Do you want to be able to stand before God at judgment free some sin? Better make sure your heart is pure.
Only after we change our hearts will we be able to be acceptable to God. Only after we change our hearts will living a Godly life become natural to us, just like rolling in the mud comes naturally to the pig. Christianity will permeate every aspect of our lives. No action will take place that contradicts God’s nature. Christianity will then no longer be a series of things we think we must do; it will simply be who we are! Let us all strive to make sure our Christianity is who we are and not simply the things we do.