Are Holy, because God is holy, 1 Pt 1:16. If we are carousing, partying, lusting, unfaithful, and are generally giving ourselves to what pertains to the flesh, then we are not holy and are not a Christian.
Are Loving. The first great commandment is to love God. In fact our whole life should be characterized by these because God is love, Mt 5:43-48. There are many professing to be Christian who we must be honest have their affection set on the world. It is a lack of faith to love this world because Jesus the love for God will be compromised. We cannot love God and love what is contrary to God.
Are Humble. The world is proud and boastful. But God is opposed to the proud. Jesus taught humility by washing feet. Jesus taught disciples servanthood instead of seeking the place of honor, Lk 14:7-10. Jesus said ‘whoever humbles himself as this child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:4.
First and foremost, Christians are spirit beings; we are spiritual beings. Things like faith, love, humility, purity, truthfulness and the like are spiritual “exercises”. These are the things which are like God and bring us into communion with Him.
All such spiritual “exercises” (think 1 Cor 13:13) have physical work or deeds which relate perfectly to them so that what we are “doing” (think book of James) is spiritual. We can talk about our faith (think Hebrews 11:1), but talk alone is not good because our faith isn’t just talk, but it is also visible in “walking the talk”, as they say. If there is only talking, or if there is not the spiritual life being lived that’s in harmony to the spiritual life being professed, it is an immediate indication that the fleshly, double mind, is in control. When we are hearers and not doers, we are compromised as we are not being guided by the things of God. We are compromised when our spirit is submitting to the desires of this world. If such is the case, then the spiritual “excercises” like faith, humility, purity, love, and humility are spoiled and displeasing to God.
James is called the book of “practical Christianity”, but what that means is that James is showing us how to live, and walk, and talk so that there is unity, not compromise, between our physical life and our spiritual life that is always before God.
Notice what James says at the end of chapter 1 that “pure and undefiled religion IN THE SIGHT OF GOD THE FATHER” is….” And then James goes on to show examples of how our physical life of talking and walking in unity with the religion that is the exercise of our spirit before our heavenly Father.
James is “practical” because it shows us that our physical deeds are to be in perfect harmony (no double-mindedness as in James 1:8; 4:8) with the spiritual “exercises” such as being loving, humble, and pure in spirit.
God made us in His image. God wants his children to live spiritual lives, which means that the walking and talking that we do is also spiritual.
When Christians, those who profess to be people of faith, love, and hope, when these are living lives that are contrary to the spiritual, then it is sin to be repented of. If I’m praying, but I’m also living a lustful and fleshly life, then I’m not a Christian – not any kind of Christian which the Father desires. If I am humble, then it shows in my life. If I’m loving, then it shows in my life. If I’m pure, it shows in my life. When these spiritual things aren’t portrayed in my life, then I am showing to the Father that I’ve set my mind on the flesh and not on the things of the Spirit (think Romans 8:5ff). When we profess to believe (this is the faith “exercise” of believing the unseen realities of God) but are doing the things of the flesh, we are compromised, double-minded, and the faith that we have is dead (think James 2:14-26). Believing in God and professing to be Christians is always evidenced by the deeds because there is to be perfect harmony in our mind, body, soul, and spirit. As Paul says in Romans 6, we are new and born again, the spiritual reality being that God raised us up from baptism a new creature, baptism being the doing of our faith showing perfect harmony, and as a new creature we are always presenting ourselves to God as an instrument of righteousness. If there is no compromise between the spiritual religion and the living of it, then we are not presenting ourselves to sin as instruments for sin (Romans 6:12ff). Christians are not ever perfect in keeping the harmony between the religion before God and the life we live. We sin. But if we love God and humbly come before Him, then the purity we strive to have before Him brings us to repentance when there is the living and talking that’s contrary to God. This is the practical Christianity of James. If you say you are a Christian, then live the life of a Christian.
When I say that Christians “are” humble, pure, and loving, these are the spiritual realities which God is most concerned with. When men can’t see the spiritual realities, then we are being Christian in name only. If you are humble, then don’t be easily bothered with insults or criticisms. If you are loving, then look out for others. Love your wife by serving her. Love your children by putting your stuff down and read to them and by talking to them tenderly of your pure faith. If you are pure before God, then shield your eyes from the immoralities of the world.
The Psalmist asked the question, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” This is talking about coming to the temple of God to worship Him which is spiritual “exercise”. The answer is disturbing to those who are not living the Christian life. He answers, “4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.” The purity and truthfulness of the Christian is evidenced by the life being lived. When the life we live in our body is in harmony with the spiritual, then we may go to the throne of God and worship Him. If there is not harmony between the spiritual “exercises” and the deeds we are doing in the body, then it makes our religion in the sight of God to be vain or displeasing to Him. This is why Jesus said, “23”Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Mt 5. Jesus shows us that ascending the hill to the temple of the Lord when we have sin in our life is displeasing to God. Don’t go to the throne of God in prayer and quiet meditation without first addressing the things in our life that are not harmony with that religion before God. If you would be seen by God as loving, pure, and humble, then live it and He will be pleased with your worship.
This is what a Christian is. A Christian is one whose living in his body is in harmony with what he’s doing before the Father. If God the Father sees our life is an evidence of the faith we say we have in Him, then God is pleased. Zephaniah 3 is talking about a future time, the Christian age, when the people will tell the truth and do good, and it says, “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zeph 3:17. This is what makes God happy that the spiritual life we live before His throne, in His holy temple, is in harmony with the life we live in the body. This is what a Christian is.
Because God is pure, be pure. Because God is holy, be holy. Because God is humble and lowly, be humble an meek and lowly. Jesus Christ is our example in all of these things. “Come and follow Me” is Jesus’ invitation to become as He is. We follow Jesus to learn His ways. He always did the will of His Father in Heaven to show us the example that the spiritual “exercise” of faith and love is practiced on the dusty roads and among the throngs of hungry people. Jesus wants us to live for Him. At the coffee shop. On the basketball court. In the training of our children. In the assembly of Christians. Our lives are to be a living sacrifice, in harmony with the life of worship before God. This is a Christian.