January 3, 2019
When we take a look at society and the way it acts we are often mortified by the awful behaviour of people. We are many times left shaking our heads wondering just how human beings can be so degraded in their conduct. Just look at the daily headlines. Consider the politicians, the television personalities and simply people on the street. Why is this? What is it that compels people (us included) to behave in such manner?
The Bible gives the most cogent answer, which is, humanity is simply acting according to its beliefs. Due to the fallen nature of humanity our conduct is a product of our thinking. Paul makes this clear when, in alerting the believers to what constitutes Christian living he says, “So I tell you and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts” (Ephesians 4:17-18)
Reading through Sinclair Ferguson's excellent book, "Lloyd Jones and the Christian Life”,* I found that this great 20th century preacher thought understood this truth. He comments on this text in Ephesians noting that, “All of us by our conduct and behaviour are proclaiming our views, our philosophy of life. It is inevitable. Out behaviour is determined by our thinking; even if it is a lack of thinking it comes out of our conduct. ‘As a man thinks, so he is.’ Very well, as a Christian thinks, and he thinks in terms of doctrine, so he behaves. Inevitably our conduct is determined by our doctrine.” The problem is in our thinking. We must at all times wed thinking and behaviour, “doctrine and life” as Lloyd Jones puts it.
Lloyd Jones gives five things that will happen when we divorce doctrine from life; 1) we dishonour God, 2) we quench the Spirit, 3) we destroy holiness and joy, 4) we become flimsy and shaky, and 5) we are highly susceptible to disaster.
What needs to take place, in my estimation, is for us to first correct the errors in our doctrine, our belief system if you will, and this will by due course correct our behaviour. All of this must be that which the Holy Spirit does in us since we are incapable of change without him. Christians should be the most robust of thinkers, engaging our minds in the truth of God’s word and seeking to live according to this truth.
While the behaviour of human beings should not shock us, it should grieve us and drive us to our knees in prayer. Our prayer should be that God, in his infinite wisdom and almighty power, bring glorious, life-changing, and mind redeeming, grace to bear upon us so that as our thinking is sanctified our behaviour would be likewise.
*Sinclair Ferguson, Lloyd Jones and the Christian Life 2018 p.25-27