But partaking of the wrong things is not limited to food. If we watch movies with extensive sexual references, or with excessive violence in them, our minds become polluted. We start to accept these excesses as normal and our behavior is shaped accordingly.
We cannot associate with a particular group of people without their attitudes and morals affecting us. If you associate with people who constantly swear then you will soon find yourself following them in the use of profanity. It takes a conscious effort to mix with people continually and not be affected by their behavior, their thoughts and desires, their lifestyle.
This applies both ways. If we associate with people who do not swear, who hold to reasonably high moral values, who are Bible-believing Christians, then we too will soon find ourselves copying their behavior and attitudes.
...if our hearts or minds are not in alignment with our actions then we are only deluding other people about our relationship with God.
The Bible says that a man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7) and that is very true when it comes to the lifestyle we lead and the things we absorb through our senses. We have to watch what we do and think. God doesnt want us to just go through the motions of right living but to hold in our hearts the concept that we should live in accordance with the Bible.
Discipline starts in the mind. Jesus said anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28). It isnt always just the acts that we have to be careful of, but the very thoughts that precede those acts.
When Paul was talking to the Roman Jews he said: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6 NIV)
Paul was talking about actions alone not being sufficient. We can publicly be holy and pious but it is what is in our hearts that is most important, and if our hearts or minds are not in alignment with our actions then we are only deluding other people about our relationship with God. God is not fooled by actions He knows what is truly in your heart!
It is not easy to reverse a lifestyle followed for many years.
It is not easy to reverse a lifestyle followed for many years. If that lifestyle is a positive one with Jesus as the example, then transgressions are likely to be brief unless we consciously walk away from Him. Likewise, if that lifestyle is one that embraces criminal activities (speeding, avoiding taxes, not being honest with shopkeepers, etc), lustful thoughts or other anti-social activities then we will find it hard to break free from that negative influence.
But it is truly worth the effort. By consciously curbing what we see, hear, eat, etc and modifying our behavior so that our lifestyle honors Jesus and does not insult Him, we will find it progressively easier to live that lifestyle.
Besides, whom do you think it better to impress a group of beer-swilling, loud-mouthed acquaintances, or your Heavenly Father, your Creator? God is the only one who truly has your interests at heart, who loves you unreservedly even though you dont deserve that kind of love.
What kind of spiritual food are you eating? What kind of lifestyle are you living?
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This article is featured in the February 2002 edition of The Christian Online Magazine.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?>
[1 Corinthians 4:20-21 NIV]
© Graham Pockett
Last Updated: Saturday, August 18, 2018