According To The Scriptures
As we look at the world around us, ungodliness, immorality, wickedness, and evil greatly abound. That is to be expected, but it should not be so among God's people. With those who have been made a new creature and saved by God's grace (and especially those being taught from God's Word) there should be a clear distinction in the life, actions, and appearance. A seemingly popular attitude among many who do believe that salvation is eternal (and it is) is that a biblical christian lifestyle has no importance. Those of us who teach, or believe in and practice, the need of good works and holiness are often assailed with accusations of "legalism," "salvation by works," and other such absurdities.
Proverbs 28:4 says:
Proverbs 28:9 says:
I believe that the Bible teaches that the true christian is to practice good works and holiness, not in order to obtain or to keep salvation, but because of salvation and as fruits and evidence of salvation. Good works can never obtain salvation, but do give evidence of our love for God who first loved us. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us." The fact that some men have tried to treat their wives well because of a fear of consequences and penalty does not destroy the truth that I should be good and faithful to my wife because I love her. Neither does the fact that some believe in good works for the obtaining or keeping of salvation destroy the truth that I should perform good works as a result of love for God. And, it does not mean that I do so for fear of losing salvation.
The book of Ephesians was written to the saints at Ephesus "and to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph.1:1) who are the "us," "we," and "ye" that is referred to in the epistle. Ephesians 1:2-14 says:
It is by God's grace and in Christ that we can stand before God justified. Before the world began, God knew all the sins that His elect would commit, both before and after conversion, and Christ died for each of those sins. Christ's death was substitutionary, not merely provisional, but substitutionary. Christ died for every sin (before and after conversion) of every one of God's elect. Acts 15:18 says, "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Some display an attitude of presumption that since all of one's sins have been paid for, it is alright to be reckless in christian living. Presumptious sin is a serious matter upon which God does not look lightly. Jesus' blood is precious and must not be "trodden under foot" and counted as "an unholy thing" (Heb. 10:29). Carefully consider what God's Word says in Hebrews 10:23-31:
We who have been saved by God's amazing grace are obligated to appear holy and without blame before men also. In Luke 1:6, speaking of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the Bible says:
Titus 1:7 tells us that "a bishop must be blameless." I think the meaning here of to "be blameless" clearly refers to more than just to possess salvation. Philippians 2:12-15 says:
1 Corinthians 7:34 speaks of an unmarried virgin as able to be one who "careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit." Romans 7:12 says:
1 Peter 1:13-19 says:
2 Peter 3:11 speaks of "what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." In Hebrews 10:24 we are instructed to provoke one another unto good works. James 2:20 says:
To teach of faith while avoiding or neglecting to teach of holiness is to "deceive you with vain words." The instruction of Ephesians 5:6 to "the faithful" (1:1) is to "Let no man deceive you with vain words." Jude 4 warns of "ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus is both Saviour and Lord. To accept Him as Saviour but not as Lord is to reject the Lord Jesus Christ. Isn't it so very inconsistent to desire or to profess the righteousness of God while rejecting the holiness of God?
As pointed out before, the book of Ephesians is addressed to "the faithful in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 1:9 says that God has "made known unto us the mystery of his will." Ephesians 2:10 says:
Ephesians 3:9-11 reveals that it is God's intent that by His churches the manifold wisdom of God be known. Ephesians 3:21 says:
The next verse, Ephesians 4:1, says:
The 17th verse of that chapter says:
In verses 22-24 we are told that if we have heard Christ and have been taught by Him:
Actions can speak louder than words. Members of the Lord's churches are obligated to be ecclesiastically separate from the world's religion and its practices. Members of the Lord's churches are also obligated to be morally separate from the ways of the world. That does not necessarily mean total physical separation from the persons, but separation from the ways, actions, looks, life-styles, and morals of the world.
Following the above verses in Ephesians, the first verse of chapter five says, "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." Verse 17 says, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." That verse introduces the ones below it which teach many things about how God's people are to behave and look. In those verses we see that there is a God given divine order of the sexes, with "the man" as "the head of the woman" being symbolic of Christ as head of man. In those verses, we are taught of the symbolism of an artificial headcovering for women when assembled for prayer, preaching, or worship in church capacity. By the use of hair as an illustration from nature we are taught the need for distinction of the sexes in our appearance wherever we are, with length and style of hair being symbolic also. Ephesians 5 leaves no doubt but that the husband and wife and their behaviour towards each other is symbolic of Christ and church. Titus 2:7 teaches that we are to be "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works." "All things" must surely include our behaviour, clothing, appearance, and attitude.
In considering the previously mentioned instructions from Ephesians 4 to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" and to "henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk," God's people need also to examine the religious holidays that are so popular with the world. We need to examine all things by the standard of God's Word and then, by God's grace, be not only hearers but doers also. Are we showing a pattern of good works in all things? Does our actions and our looks speak so loudly no one can hear what we say? Times sure have changed but God's Word has not.