The Mustard Seed
What is the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever?
Let's make that question challenging and personal: What is the difference between you and someone who does not know Jesus? And how would someone who is not a Christian describe the difference?
Your answer may focus on two points: What a Christian believes, and what a Christian does.
It is interesting that unbelievers in the world hold Christians to a higher moral standard than they hold themselves. And they are right!
Remember the story about King David's adultery. He thought he could get out of a very sticky situation by arranging the death of his mistress' husband. But then David's friend, Nathan, confronted him about what he did. David shamefully admitted his guilt and God forgave him. However, for the rest of David's life, he lived with the tragic consequences of his sin.
David thought he had committed his sin in secret and that nobody knew about it. Wrong! God knew, and so did everyone else. You can be sure that gossip spread. Nathan said to David, "What you did caused the Lord’s enemies to lose all respect for Him." David was supposedly "a man after God's own heart," so what he did brought shame to God's name. Now those who hated God watched to see what Holy God would do about His very unholy subject, David. So even though God forgave David, God still punished him so the world would understand that He is a righteous God (2 Samuel 12).
If you are a true disciple of Jesus, you do not live as people of the world live. This must be as true for your private life as it is for public face. The true measure of our character is not in what people see, but in what we do when no one is looking.
The Bible says:
You are God’s children whom He loves, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God. But there must be no sexual sin among you, or any kind of evil or greed. Those things are not right for God’s holy people. Also, there must be no evil talk among you, and you must not speak foolishly or tell evil jokes. These things are not right for you. Instead, you should be giving thanks to God. You can be sure of this: No one will have a place in the kingdom of Christ and of God who sins sexually, or does evil things, or is greedy... In the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. (Ephesians 5:1-8 NCV)
Christians are not perfect people. We are all still sinners who daily need forgiveness. But God's forgiveness is not a license to sin. Rather, God's mercy and Christ's sacrifice for us motivates us to please Him in all our thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes. Disciples of Jesus aim for moral purity. Only Christ, working through His Word, transforms our minds. Only Christ living in us can make us more like Him.
Every day each of us struggle with urges to do and say things that bring shame to the name of Christ. A few years ago our campus ministry series looked at some practical ways that we can respond to those temptations. Here are the main points:
~~ Pastor Ron
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Pastor Ron Friedrich