To hear some people tell it, because we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:21) our behaviour doesn’t really matter. The thinking is that because our salvation is based on the work of Christ, there is nothing we can say or do to mess it up. Because Christ is the end of the Law for right-standing with God (Romans 10:4) we are pretty much free to conduct life as we see fit. All that matters is that we believe in Jesus. But is that true?
A Head On Challenge
“This reflecting of the divine character is not an optional extra amongst God’s expectations for us, rather it is right at the core of what he expects of us. The notion that God only expects of us right notions, right beliefs, but that our ethics, our behaviour, or doing is somehow less important or not essential to being a Christian is frankly false. And were I in a quoting mood, I could trot out a plethora of texts which make this clear. For example, consider Paul’s warnings to Christians (not non-Christians) not merely that if they behave like skunks that people will get wind of it (and it will be a bad witness) but that if they choose a pattern of behaviour that is ungodly and unholy they will not enter the final Kingdom of God when it comes full on earth (Gal. 5.19ff.: ‘The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.'”
Reigning in Righteousness
Well said, Dr. Witherington. God, the Great King, is righteous and delights in righteousness (Psalm 11:7). Therefore we are told to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). A study of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) shows that the King’s righteousness begins in the heart and manifests in our behaviour. This couldn’t be more clear. Therefore, you show me someone who doesn’t think their behaviour is important, and I will show you someone who is not truly living in the Reign.