Godliness and Christian Character

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

We often act like the only sins of consequence are a handful of top-tier sins

For many Christians the only sins of any consequence are a handful of obviously serious sins, such as adultery or various criminal actions. If someone is involved in church life and doesn’t commit one these select few sins, they are considered ‘godly’. But what if they are a liar and make a practice of deceiving others? What if they gossip? What if they have an anger issue and take it out on others? What if their sins are less obvious? What if their actions seem good but are motivated by jealousy, envy or selfish ambition? Some of these sins are hard to detect. Even when they are noticed it is easy to treat them as relatively insignificant. However, the Bible says that these things are serious enough that those who continue in them are in danger of being excluded from God’s kingdom (Galatians 5:19-21).

Repentance has become a dirty word

For Luther repentance was the bread-and-butter of the Christian life. Thomas Cranmer (1484-1556), the author of the Book of Common Prayer, believed the same thing. His liturgy led English people to engage in repentance for their sins as part of every church service.

The contrast between this Reformation emphasis and today is striking. I have found that many Christians today are deeply embarrassed by the idea that we might need to call a fellow believer to repent. All Christians have substantial evils remaining in their lives, both known and unknown to them. Love will lead us to carefully identify and expose these things to those sinning, and to call upon them to repent (James 5:19-20Ephesians 5:11). If we are to pursue godliness we need to be well-practiced in repentance. Christians must ever seek to identify the sin remaining in their thoughts, words, and deeds and turn away from them.                       -Matthew Payne