A great many people seem to misunderstand Christianity and the Christian life.
In some cases, no more is implied than intellectual belief of the doctrines of Christianity. Some people seem to think that a Christian is one who is “sound in the faith”–although the personal character may be very faulty, and there may be no practical application of the principles of the gospel to the conduct. Pride, bitterness, selfishness, malice, dishonesty, and harshness may abound. But because the person believes the facts of the gospel, he considers himself to be a Christian man.
A Christian life is a regenerated life. Thus the teaching of the Scriptures is that a true Christian life is one that has come under new influences, a new life, a divine principle–entering the heart and changing all within and then without. It is the Spirit entering into him and influencing his whole life.
In a true Christian life, the beliefs in the heart manifest themselves, in greater or lesser measure–in the conduct and the character. Thus it is character which is the true and final test of religion. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.” These are the things that manifest one to be a Christian. Not those who say, “Lord, Lord”–but those who “obey His commandments,” shall enter into Heaven.
Men talk about holiness and pray for it, as if it were something entirely apart from their everyday life–something that has nothing whatever to do with their conduct in their domestic, social and business relations. But holiness is not a mere sentiment–it is the most real and practical thing in this world! If being holy means anything at all, it means being true, honest, upright, noble, pure, gentle, patient, unselfish. Holiness is not only church-going and hymn-singing–it is life and conduct. It is not a Sunday religion, but a week-day lifestyle. We really have no more religion than we get into our everyday life–at home, in business, in all our conduct. We are Christians only so far as the Christ living in us, is manifested in a Christlike life.
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