When Christians fail to represent Christ there are a few reasons I think, from a Biblical standpoint
1.) They fall from a deep understanding in Christ who they truly are.
2 Peter 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Some Christians have some errors in their theology and have an innacurate understanding that as a believer in Christ and as a “new creation” they do not have to sin- they have all the power in Christ needed to live godly. “For His divine power has given us everything we need for a life of godliness” 2 Peter 1:3 says, but many Christians lack wisdom and understanding to truly know how to access such power. A little while ago there was a news story about a woman who was horribly neglected and abused from childhood and kept outside with the dogs, she became so accustomed to that life she behaved as if she was one on the dogs. Yet she was genetically and biologically human. Another example is if there was a poor man eating scraps and diving in dupsters for food but does not know someone actually wired to his accout $3,000,000. Until a Christian truly realized who he or she has become and what power their is through Christ they will act like something they are not.
2.) They do not abide in Christ enough or read His word regularly to help them mature and keep growing.
Psalm 119:9-11 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
A Christian who seldom opens the word is like one who seldom eats food, the body needs food to produce energy, aquire nuitreints, and keep us healthy. But if we do not eat the body does not have much to work with, in the same way, not ingesting God’s word leads to the Holy Spirit not having much to utilize to convict or bring to our minds for encouragement, strength, guidance or correction. God is not limited and could speak audibly from heaven if He wanted but His primary means is His Word. So to neglect that is to do ourselves a great diservice.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
3.) They may have never truly come to Christ at all, their commitment may just be a superficial head knowlege- one that is rooted in just shallow intellectual belief and not a heart transformation. Many people in church do not know Christ yet and think all it took was mouthing a little prayer as a cheap “get out of hell free card”, in fear of being judged by God they may have just made a decision to just become a Christian out of fear of hell not an actual deep seated conviction of their sin, Christ’s sacrifice, His reserrection, or God’s great love. And so they mouthed words or walked an aisle but never really changed from within.
Jesus clearly taught that “Unless a man be born again he will not see the kingdom of God” John 3
The problem often in many American churches is not the genuine followers of Christ but the one’s who walk through the door that we failed to check their pulse. Many people in the church are still non believers with Christian costumes and religious party attire, blowing the confetty of lip service and phony profession.
(There was a man once name Bob Johnny and he boasted his apple orchard grew the best ripe crispy apples in town, one day he invited his friends and family to see Bob John’s Crispy Orchard. But when one of his friends reached out to touch the apple, he said, “Why is this apple orange and soft?” Bob John was offended and angrily protested, “Dean how dare you judge my one of a kind crispy red apples'” Dean replied, “Im sorry Bob but these are not apples but Florida oranges”)
At the end of the day its not a matter of trying harder or striving to be a better Christian but rather letting Christ produce the fruit in our lives. In John 15 he says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener, he cuts of every branch in me that bears no fruit but every branch that does bear fruit he prunes. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, but must it remains in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Christian’s are called to abide in Christ not disconnect from Christ and try to do the Christian life by their own effort. How do we connect or stay connected though? First off someone who is not yet born again cannot really produce real fruit just leaves, and in John 4 a chapter after Jesus talks with Nicodemus, Jesus spoke to a woman at the well and told her who he was and then said “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
To worship God in Spirit and Truth is to do so from the heart and according to truth, not just guessing what pleases God and winging it. Not just putting more elbow grease into it or honkering down to produce the fruit only Christ can inside of us. We are to worship according to accurate knowlege of God as well and find out what pleases Him. The Apostle Paul writes: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:17-20)
“Filled with the Spirit” and “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” — A Spirit filled life is thankful and one marked by fruitful words, Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”
And as Hebrews 13 tells us, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16)
We are called not to be complainers,
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Philippians 2:14-15)
As hard as it can be to practice The Lord is more then willing to help ever Christian produce the fruit of Christ, “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self Control” (Galatians 5:22)
Do not try harder but abide more in the vine, Jesus Christ and “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:16-18 )
When we let the Holy Spirit lead and govern our lives, them we do not need an external checklist of rules and codes of conduct to make us behave rightly- we delight rather in righteousness because the Holy Spirit produces in us a love for what is good and godly. The Greek philosopher Plato once said “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. Plato
(Read more at: http://mobile.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato161536.html)
Plato was right but missed a crucial element, its not that some decent people do not exist, but the problem is we all fall short of being good enough to never cause a certain amount of problems and pain to God or others, because every human being has a capacity to be selfish and corrupt. And if we get more specific about laws then we need to go deeper than just “what is legal or accepted by society and what is not.” Because as good as a decent law can be it only restrains a certain amount of indwelling humam evil. We may not rob banks or literally murder someone in our lives but have we ever verbally destroyed someone in a moment of temper and lack of restraint? We all have. There are many sins and hurtful things we can do to one another and not end up in jail for and just because it is not illegal does not mean it is not cruel- a racist, or hateful word, or showing favoritism and bias or being arrogant are not illegal but sin. Being sexually immoral, promiscuous, name calling or complaining about life or gossiping about others are not illegal activities but still sins in God’s eyes. Broken marriages, alcoholism, and materialism are also the results of sins people can commit without being as depraved as we all have the potential to be.
What overcomes all sin and selfishness though, toward both God and our fellow man and woman? Love- sincere and pure and produced by the Spirit of Grace. God has called the believer to be a display peace of His Grace and a reflexion of the character of Christ. In a world that can be very dark, sinful and self absorbed we ought to go against the grain and rebel against the world’s ways of sin by being ruled by the Spirit of Christ and the Word of God. “Be not conformed any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, then you will be able to test and approve of what God’s will is, his good pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
How do go about this?
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
We are to 1.) Offer our bodies, our tongues, our lips, our hearts, our time, our hands and feet to Jesus.
But not only that, we are also called to not do this 2.) Conform to the patterns of this world.
⁃ Do you let the world and society shape your view of things? Do you let others tell you how to think, act or dress?. “If you wear this brand name your cool” and “This is what makes you cool and likable” , “Don’t be such a prude bro, just live a little, what’s it going to hurt.” We are bombarded by subliminal advertising all over of what beauty looks like and what success is but 1 John 2 warns us “Do not love the world or the things in the world”…..then lists “The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boasting of what one has or does comes not from the Father but from the World and the World and its desires pass away but the one who does the will of God will live forever
⁃ But the ultimate “will of God” is yes a believer’s sanctification but the people in the World’s salvation [Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29), So at the end of the day God did not just save us to save us so we could be happy over our salvation and not be concerned with the people out there still seeking answers and hope. We are to be display pieces of God’s enormous love and mercy to shine to a world looking for the answers to their problems.
To not be conformed also requires a day to day commitment to “put off the old self”
Ephesians 4:22-32 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1.) Put of falsehood and speak truthfully.
2.) Do not let anger go unresolved, rather forgive.
3.) Do away with stealing and work, doing something useful so we can share with others in need.
4.) put away unproductive and unholy speech, (profanity, gossip, back biting tongues, grumbling, perversity, crude joking, and name calling are just a few examples)
When we put these things away from us we invite the Holy Spirit to work more in us. We cannot earn the Holy Spirit by good behavior but when we repent and ask Him to come into our lives and fill us and empower us we will receive if we have faith and ask sincerely. To put off sinful ways brings healing to our spiritual lifes not in and of itself as much as allows the Lord to occupy the old spaces where the junk was before. An analogy is Dieting vs Food Substitution- religiousity would say, dont do that, that or that, abstain here and abstain there, but the Spirit filled life is substituting old carnal way for good and godly patterns of living and most of all The Lord God himself. The more The Lord is occupying our lives the less room there is for our sinful nature to just have free reign.
Its a matter of surrender and allowing ourselves to be filled with His presence and grace more so then bloody nuckling it and saying “Im not going to be sinful to day!” No we must rather give God our beings and yeild to Him and let Him do the transformation.