To our shame it is often difficult to know the difference between we Christians and the unbelievers around us. We have all heard this question: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? When God makes us His children, He means to produce in us some very radical changes.
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
God*s people being different is not confined to New Testament Christianity. In the Old Testament God*s people, the people of Israel, were to be very different from the people around them. They were to be different in dress, diet, and moral behaviour.
Exodus 11:7: But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
God put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. It was already apparent that God*s people were not judged as others. In spite of that, for thousands of years the people of Israel tried to be like the nations around them. Too often Christians try to be like the unbelievers around them. Christians have been changed by God and ought to show it. We are to be in the world but not of it. Since we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, we ought to be different from our neighbors to a greater extent than the people of Israel were. Their being different and our being different are to point people to our God. The Bible uses the words Holy and sanctify to describe the concept of being different.
Leviticus 20:7: Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
1 Peter 1:16: Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
The words holy and sanctification can be kind of scary. They do have to do with sinlessless which we cannot attain on our own. One very important fact of the Christian life is that we who have received Christ are credited with His righteousness and our sinfulness has been assigned to Him on that cruel cross.
2 Corinthians 5:21: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Right behaviour is part of being holy or sanctified or made different by God. Many aspects of our being made different, holy or sanctified are accomplished by God and God alone. There are other aspects to holiness and sanctification that we are to be personally involved in. We are to submit to God and co-operate with Him in being holy and sanctified.
A Christian who fails to live as righteously as he can and serve God the best he can wastes the work of God and the gifts of God. He is like a man with a beautiful car that he never drives. He is like a person with new overshoes walking through snow barefooted. He is like a person with a comfortable home who sleeps on the garage floor. He is like an eagle stuck in mud. We should not hide the changes God has wrought in us. We should treasure them and rejoice in them. We should not limit the Holy Spirit and only permit Him to make a *few* changes in us. We should let it be very apparent to the people about us that we have had a total remake from the Lord.
Luke 11:33: No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.
The changes God makes in us and our lives when he saves us are greater than if he had changed a goat into a sheep or a caterpillar into a butterfly.
New believers are often very enthusiastic about what God has done for them. In the lives of many Christians the newness and excitement of belonging to Jesus seems to wear off. That ought not to be. The changes in us ought to be increasingly obvious as we grow as Christians. We need to be aware that we have an awesome privilege and responsibility. We are the representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth.
2 Corinthians 5:20: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ*s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
One difference between a believer and an unbeliever is that a believer should want to be part of a Biblical fellowship. We should be very particular about the type of church we unite with and its doctrines ought to be Biblical. We should choose a church that fulfills the functions and role that God wants in a New Testament church. Unbelievers will prefer unbiblical churches. We should not be part of any church that does not beseech people to be reconciled to God. We should not be part of any church that does not reach out to the community around it and support Biblical missionaries. We should not be part of any church that does not teach the Word of God.
Hebrews 20:24-25: And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
2 Timothy 4:2: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Matthew 28:19:20: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
If a church teaches that one can become a child of God in any way other than receiving Christ, run for the nearest exit.
Many churches today are involved in making people feel good about themselves or their church. The church should be making people feel good about God. That is one aspect of worship. What many churches do is actually cause people to worship themselves or their church rather than God.
I sometimes ask people if they go to church anywhere. If they say I go to X church, I ask them how does a member of X church get to heaven. It is amazing to me how many times they will answer I don*t know. If they haven*t been taught in their church how to get to heaven I offer to show them from the Bible how to get there. We ought not to be part of a church that doesn*t know or doesn*t teach how to get to heaven or teaches a wrong way about how to get there. A church where the members are not shown how to share with others how to get to heaven is suspect.
Matthew 15:14: Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
There is a great danger that a non-believer can be falsely convinced that he is a Christian. If he is convinced that he has become a Christian by joining a church or going through some ceremony or performing x number of good works he can be convinced that he does not need Jesus. Tragic!! Churches that do not point people to Jesus are actually steering people directly into Hell!!! It is incongruous for Christians to be part of and support churches that are incorrect on the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Psalms 55:19: God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
I*ll tell you a well-known secret. Our old nature (our flesh) will always resist change. Our new nature will embrace every change that God makes. Every change that God makes will be evidence that one is a child of God. Heavenly Father . . . bring on the changes.