Belief and Behavior

Belief and behavior are two things that are often thought of whenever we think of Church. Many would say that this is pretty much what the Church majors in “telling people what to believe and then to behave!” But when we take a more in depth look at what God has said in His Word, is this really what we find? Not exactly.

If we read the Bible as if it is a book of laws and rules and commands that are primarily about ourselves and what we must do, then of course that is how it will look. But if we look at the Bible as being primarily about God, and what He has done in history, then the way that we look at it changes remarkably. If the Bible is basically about God revealing Himself in and to the world that He has created, then all of the commands and laws are not an end unto themselves (do this because I say so!), but rather they are a means to a relationship with the One who is at the center of the Bible. In English grammar, we refer to a statement that is a matter of fact as an indicative. It is a sentence indicating something to us. A statement that is directing us to do something is called an imperative. It is a sentence giving direction, a command, urging us to do something. But the interesting thing about the Bible is we see that the indicatives always come before the imperatives. That is God is saying “because I am this, or because I have done this…now, you are to live this way.”

Perhaps one of the most poignant places we find this is in Exodus ch.20, where God gives the 10 Commandments to the people of Israel. But He doesn’t just hand them (through Moses to His people). No, first He gives what is known as the ‘historic preamble’: Exodus 20:1-4  (ESV) “And God spoke all these words, saying,  2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  3 “You shall have no other gods before me.  4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…”

So we see that God does not arbitrarily command the Israelites to live a certain way, without first, giving them a reason for doing so “I am God and I have saved you!” Far too often, as Christians we get this backwards. We give people the impression that if they behave, then God will save them. But to do so is to completely get the gospel backwards. The gospel is good news first, not good advice. It contains advice and commands about how we are to live, but only after we first understand who God is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. There is much more to be said for sure, but this is fundamental to what Christians believe.



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Riverside Community Church
Sundays at 10:30 am
311 Old Mill Road
Cartersville, Ga 30120
(470) 315-2344

Riverside Community Church is a mission church of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)