What does the Bible say about Christian behavior?

When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us to walk with God, displaying godly behavior in our daily lives (Romans 8:9; Titus 2:11–14). There are many passages that discuss Christian behavior, one of the foundational ones being Galatians 5:22–23, which lists the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." More than one Scripture refers to "good works" as evidence of our Christian behavior (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:12). So, in short, Christian behavior will provide outward evidence of the Spirit that is present within us.

It is important to recognize that these aren't things we produce primarily through our own effort; rather they come from the Holy Spirit's work of transformation in our lives (2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17). At the same time, we are told to obey God and to do our best to conform to His will. Philippians 2:12–13 says it this way: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Also recognize that the Spirit's work in us is progressive. Christians will mess up; our behavior will not always adhere to God's holy standards or be a very good demonstration of His work in us. But when we fail, we can trust that "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). We can confess our sin and move forward, trusting in God's grace and faithfulness (1 John 1:9).

Being a Christian means that we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God—what a privilege! First Peter 2:9–10 says: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." As Christians, we should use our behavior to "proclaim the excellencies" of God to others. The Lord is always searching for those who are devoted to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Our lives should exemplify the salvation and the changes He has worked within us (John 15:8). We are to be doers of the word, evidencing our faith through our actions (James 1:22, 27; 2:17, 26). We should be unashamed in our witness for Christ: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16; see also Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 1:8).

Walking out Christian behavior not only showcases God in us to others; it also protects us from the war against the fleshly desires within ourselves: "abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul" (1 Peter 2:11; see also Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:14).

If you're looking for one great passage that sums up Christian behavior, Romans 12:9–21 is just the one. The heading for this section in many Bibles is "Marks of a True Christian" and it says:

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

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