As I stated in a previous post The Great American Mistake I believe one of America’s greatest spiritual misunderstandings is the belief that salvation has something to do with conduct. Well I am going to pick up the baton right there because a second great American mistake also has to do with conduct. Most agree that once saved conduct is very important. We could present that sentiment in most Christian assemblies across America and get a hardy “AMEN” in response. When I was a “younger preacher,” conduct was low hanging sermon fruit. I remember preaching against things like: promiscuity, adultery, dishonesty, substance abuse, all those things that seem to be on the increase in America these days (even in the church). There is nothing inherently wrong with those messages; we all agree that conduct (or “good works” if you are in the Christian jargon club) is very important. But too often the most important question is not answered: What is the best way to get good conduct?
What is the Best Way to get Good Conduct?
Many seek good conduct by going to LA (Learn and Apply). Let me be clear here so that there is no misunderstanding – LA is a place we should all visit as Christians. Bible study (learn) is beneficial in so many ways! And once you learn a Biblical concept – of course it is beneficial to apply that concept to your life. Stay on the train going to LA. As a matter of fact the LA train actually helps with the real answer to the question “What is the best way to get good conduct?” The best way to get good conduct is not to work for it. Again, work is good and traveling to LA is work. But ultimately if you want good conduct the best way is to get your R&R!
If you want Good Conduct; Learn and Apply is not THE BEST way
There are two primary ways to approach Conduct: The Law and Grace. The Law is work, and it served a great purpose in God’s redemptive plan for mankind. The Law was essentially asked for by the Hebrew people after their deliverance from Egypt. God had heard their cries for deliverance and never forgot His chosen people. He miraculously delivered them out of the bondage of slavery. After this deliverance they were instructed to meet with God “face to face” at Mount Sinai but the people were afraid to be in the presence of God, so here is what they asked their leader (Moses) to do for them:
Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey. (Deuteronomy 5:27 NIV)
The Hebrew people, rather than hearing from God personally, asked for and received the Law. They received a set of instructions to learn and apply. Okay Bible scholars, would you say that learning and applying a set of rules brought about good conduct for the Hebrews / Israelites? On the contrary, here are a few things that the New Testament says about the Old Testament Law:
- It was unbearable (Acts 15:10)
- It makes you very aware that you are a sinner (1 Corinthians 15:56)
- It brings condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:9)
- Awareness of the Law actually increases sin (Romans 5:20)
Better get your R&R!
Rather than putting yourself under the burden of the law (seeking change by Learning and Applying) seek good conduct with R&R (Receive and Respond!) Sure the New Testament / New Covenant gives us conduct expectations. But they are not a means to an end. In the New Testament, the commands are a response to what God has already given you! So…. with what God has already done for you, RECEIVE! Don’t just believe it, embrace it… “Receive it!” Then, after receiving what God has already done for you, respond to it. You see, you cannot give to others what you do not have to give. But if God has given to you abundantly and freely, this unleashes your ability to give because you now possess what He has given! But don’t forget that you must truly receive. This goes beyond studying, learning, memorizing (all are good). This is more in line with meditating, believing, receiving. The list of good stuff available to receive is lengthy so I will start you out with two. Receive these my Christian friends, own them and then be prepared to respond:
Receive and Respond:
Love – Receive God’s love. Know that He loves you, He smiles upon you, He is not angry with you. Know that (because Jesus paid your fine) sin is not a barrier between you and God’s perfect and boundless love! You can only give sacrificial love if you possess it, and God has given you perfect sacrificial love! Receive and Respond.
Grace – The free gift that is forgiveness; receive it! Regardless of what you have done; regardless of what you didn’t do; regardless of what you have said; regardless of what you have thought and desired, you are forgiven in Christ because grace is a free! If you belong to Jesus you have no right to feel guilty, condemned or unrighteous. Receive His grace even though you don’t deserve it – it was paid for by Jesus; nevertheless it is yours! Truly receiving God’s grace stops: guilt, regret, sorrow and unleashes unthinkable freedom in your soul. But be prepared to respond. Receive and Respond.
Receiving God’s love and grace allows God to change you from the inside out. Then you will begin to see good works that occur from a changed soul.
What are some other good things available for Christians to Receive & Respond? Please share.