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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

September 1, 2017

Acceptable and unacceptable behavior

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

The basic parameters of our way of life as Christians are defined by God in the Scriptures. God sets the limit that serves to separate acceptable from unacceptable behavior. How do we recognize that limit? Via God's laws! God’s laws, and Christ’s example of perfect obedience to those laws, set the standards for the genuinely Christian way of life.

Let’s be sure we understand the role of God’s law in our lives. Paul forcefully explains in his letters that no law can ever justify us – that is, it cannot remove the guilt we incurred through our past transgressions (Romans 3:23-25). Justification – the removal of guilt from sins previously committed – is a gift God freely gives when we repent and place our faith in Christ’s sacrificial death as payment for our sins. "Therefore," says Paul, "we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28) – that is, through faith in Christ’s death in our stead.

But Paul then explains the role the law still plays in our lives. "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Romans 3:31). The law’s purpose is not to provide forgiveness of sin but to define sin – "for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). God’s law reveals the principles and standards of the godly way of life. All of God's commandments are righteous (Psalm 119:172), and righteousness is acceptable behavior. Unrighteousness – sin, the breaking of God's law – is unacceptable behavior.

Acceptable behavior is further defined in the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor. Our behavior should reflect the attitude of wanting to be cooperative and respectful servants of both God and our fellow human beings. As true Christians we are supposed to be a caring and serving people who are uncompromisingly loyal to the principles taught in the Scriptures.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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