The standards Christians live by in our society have systematically been lowered in recent years. To illustrate, I have created a simple graph (below):
As illustrated by the top line, biblical standards always remain the same. The line on the left shows how worldly standards in our society have been deteriorating. The line on the right reveals that over the same period of time Christian standards have also been lowered. This has come about because many have set our Christian standards by comparing them to the world’s standards, rather than by using only biblical truths. As both standards fall, Christian standards have maintained the same distance between the world’s standards giving the illusion that we are not as bad as the world, but this false comparison is a trick of the enemy. It has caused us to lower Christian standards. The net result is that what was considered a worldly standard in American society 20 to 30 years ago has now become acceptable for many Christians.
This deceptive work of Satan has caused us to become more tolerant regarding many of the sins described in the Bible. It has devastated the lives of many Christians, because sin always leads to broken lives. The Bible puts it very bluntly: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This truth does not only apply to salvation. Sin is a frequent cause for the inner hurt and pain so many in the church suffer.
For the moral character of the people in the world to change is understandable. History reveals the majority of non-Christians usually follow the trends of a society, but for Christians it’s supposed to be different. We are new creations, born again into the Kingdom of God to be the righteousness of God. As with Eve, then Adam, Satan’s scheme of spiritual deception has been highly successful in America in this past generation. This is evident as the world’s moral standards have had a greater influence on us in this generation than Christian standards have had on the world. Not only is this illustrated by the above graph, but also by the moral fruit produced in our society and in the body of Christ. Keep in mind that deception is determined by the fruit being produced.
I would rather dwell on the positives than the negatives. But when we see that we are continually losing the battle, we cannot continue to hide our heads in the sand. We need to take corrective action and confront the negative issues. To dwell on the positives and ignore the truth of the negatives may sound good, but doing so only touches lives temporarily rather than permanently.
The glory of the gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world, it invariably attracts outsiders. The world may hate the message at first, but it has been proven time and again that people will listen when they see a true difference. That is how revival comes. This same principle applies to each individual Christian. Our ambition should not be to fit in with everybody else, but to be different, even as Jesus was. We belong to a different Kingdom, and our aim is to be like the Ruler of that Kingdom. The more we are like Him, the better. And the more like Him we become, the more we will be unlike those who are still members of the kingdom of the world.
We are not here to make sure we get everything we can out of this present experience. The Christian life is different. We are not to live for the world, but regard it, or society, as that which we are passing through into something vast and eternal and glorious. Peter states, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12). The sinful desires that Peter mentions include all kinds of earthly wishes: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
The Bible teaches that Satan’s objective is to use every conceivable sensual desire to tempt us away from living a victorious Christian life. We see how he uses the things of the world to the ruin of those of the world. But we are seeking a heavenly home, and should not set our affections on earthly things. We are not like those who live in the kingdom of darkness while neglecting the salvation of their souls.
Points to Remember from the Beatitudes about the Spiritual Characteristics of a Christian
1. Each of these spiritual characteristics applies to all Christians.
2. All Christians are meant to manifest every one of these characteristics.
3. None of these descriptions of Christian character refers to what we would call a natural tendency. They all are spiritual qualities and are only developed through the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. These descriptive Christian characteristics indicate the difference between the character of a Christian and the non-Christian.
5. These characteristics teach us the truth that the Christian and non-Christian belong to two entirely different kingdoms.
The first and the last promise given in these characteristics offer the same reward—“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We are here on Earth; we obey the laws of the land, as the Scriptures tell us we are to do. We work, play and raise our families in the ways the Lord directs. We live our lives here, but our true citizenship is in Heaven. Paul states, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13), and “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20).
We should not get into a materialistic way of thinking about the Kingdom of God as the Jews did. They were looking for an earthly king and expected the Messiah would return them to political and military power as in the glory days of King David. Our Lord’s objective in His teachings was to show that His Kingdom is primarily a spiritual one. To the disciples He sent out to preach, Jesus said to tell the cities that did not receive them, “Be sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:11, KJV). Wherever the reign of Christ is manifested, His Kingdom is there. The Kingdom of God is present at this very moment in all of us who are true believers. We represent the Kingdom of God in this world, and are not to live like citizens of the kingdom of the world.
Lastly, we need to remember that these characteristics are a mirror for us to look at ourselves—not something that we use to judge others. I will be the first to admit that I have not arrived in the development of these characteristics. Also, these are not a new moral code by which we become a member of the Kingdom of God. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8). Jesus gave these to us so we would know what spiritual characteristics make up His Kingdom.
WATCH FOR MY NEXT BLOG “Spiritual Characteristics of the Kingdom of God (Part 1)” on May 24th, 2010.Tags: Christian standards, Holy Spirit, kingdom of darkness, Kingdom of God, kingdom of the world, light of the world, salt of the earth, Sermon on the Mount, spiritual characteristics, spiritual warfare, temptation, victorious Christian life, worldly standards