7465 - Conduct Comes from Character - 1 John 3:7b-8a

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Today let’s dig into a portion of God’s Word together.

Listen to a portion of 1 John 3, verses 7 and 8:

“He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is right. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”

The contrast of two lifestyles is obvious in this passage. We profit by knowing that in the original language, these verbs are of habitual reference. They state that the indicated conduct is continually being played out. It is the intention of the heart to practice this kind of lifestyle.

The first statement is the picture of a person who has a righteous heart. As the adage goes, “a righteous character expresses itself in righteous conduct.”

We must never forget that from God’s viewpoint the only way for a man to be righteous is to have Jesus Christ living within as the Lord of His life. One must abide in Jesus and have Him abide in them if there is to be the quality of righteousness permeating their life.

To get a closer look at this principle consider Isaiah 64:6 which tells us: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags...”

Now friend, this is God’s view of every person without Christ. Oh yes, when we observe our neighbors we may see some are better than others, and perhaps most everyone does some good deed occasionally. But the character of the heart is darkened and marred by impure motives and self seeking drives. Their habitual lifestyle is not consistent with the once-in-a-great-while good deed.

The root cause of this flaw is that the devil is the one who rules and reigns in the heart of this person. And when the devil is on the throne of life, this life will never be righteous in a consistent, absolute sense.

However, when Jesus Christ is on the throne of life, that life has experienced a remarkable, miraculous change. That old sin nature has died. Romans 6 tells us it was crucified with Jesus on the cross, so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, so that Christians should no longer be slaves of sin.

Actually that miraculous change in a believer’s life came about because God Himself was reconciling the world to Himself in and through Jesus Christ. God’s love and graced even removes men’s sin from them when they come as humble sinners to receive from Jesus their own personal gift of salvation, and are thereby reconciled to the infinite, everlasting Father God.

At that moment the Bible tells us (2 Cor. 5:21) that the righteousness of God is imputed to this repentant individual. From that moment forward such a person actually is the temple of the living God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit reside within. Now think, with the God of righteousness living within, what will be the conduct of this person? Of course, he will do right things. The righteous character within him will habitually express itself in righteous conduct.

Then is it possible for a Christian to sin? The answer is obviously yes, since in 1 John 2:1 we are told if anybody does sin, then Jesus Christ, as our defense attorney, speaks to the Father in our defense. We should notice that the verb tense in this verse speaks of a single act of sin and not habitual. There is a great difference. A Christian may stumble, but the Father will not permit him to live habitually a lifestyle of sin.

Disobedience by a Christian brings upon him the loving discipline of his Father. And remember, God’s discipline is meant to bring us to repentance and a return to obedience.

With sadness we note that there are those in the world who have never received the gift of salvation from Jesus; thus, they continue in the domain of the devil. They continue to be slaves of sin. Their very nature — their character is as a rebel. They rebel against God. This means that their conduct will habitually flow from the character of the devil who rules their life. Oh, this person may think he’s in charge and running his affairs, but the truth is that the devil is his god and rules with an iron fist.

Yet, living God is longsuffering. He continues to keep the invitation open for each sinner to cry out to Him for forgiveness and life, and Jesus will respond.