Belief vs. Behavior

Q. I know someone who is a very nice person and very generous, but he sleeps around and seemingly has no qualms about it. I mentioned being “born again,” and he said that he received the Lord at a young age and that he knows God will take him up in the rapture. How does this compute in God’s eyes?

A. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile a person’s behavior with his beliefs, especially when he has such a cavalier attitude about it, but the truth is our behavior is not the basis for our salvation. It’s our belief that Jesus died for all our sins and rose again that qualifies us for eternal life.

When we believe that, we become a new creation and in God’s eyes we have been made perfect forever (Hebrews 10:12-14). He no longer attributes our sins to us, but to the sin that still lives in us (Romans 7:18-20). That’s how it computes with Him.

Even so, there are numerous New Testament exhortations for us to live up to that which we have already attained (Phil. 3:16). We’re to behave in a manner that brings credit to God and does not grieve the Holy Spirit with whom we are sealed for the day of redemption (Ephes. 4:30).

We are not called to do this to earn or keep anything but out of gratitude for what we’ve already been given. In my opinion this person is demonstrating a terrible lack of gratitude for what the Lord has given him.

But it’s important to remember that the primary difference between him and us is that his sins are well known to others. The one who works to maintain the appearance of righteousness but harbors thoughts of anger, envy, lust, pride, etc, etc. is just as much a sinner. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) whether in thought, word, or deed.

I’m not condoning this person’s behavior in any sense of the word. But I am saying it would be a mistake for any of us to think we’re any better. On the contrary, our proper response should be asking the Lord to forgive him (1 John 5:16). Who knows when we might need such a prayer said for us.

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