There is a great deal of discussion and debate today about “Christian values.” The term is used to describe the spiritual/moral principles around which believers build their lives. On the surface it would seem that defending Christian values is a noble cause. Yet the Bible never teaches that our lives should be built around a particular value system.
Paul never said, “For to me to live is to live like Christ.” However, many Christians would suggest that to imitate the life of Christ is a worthy goal. Paul did say, “For me to live is Christ.” His lifestyle was not an imitation of the life of Jesus. Christianity is not an imitation of Christ’s life. It is an expression of His life. When a person focuses on imitating Christ, he will be obsessed with doing right and avoiding wrong.
When a person focuses on imitating Christ, he will be obsessed with doing right and avoiding wrong.
Obviously, a Christian should do right and avoid wrong but many in the modern church may be putting the cart before the horse. The Bible never suggests that we are to behave a certain way in order to become righteous. Any effort to achieve righteousness by our behavior will only lead to self-righteousness.
When a person receives Christ, he is given the very nature of Jesus. Peter said that we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3). A Christian does not gradually become righteous - he has been given the gift of righteousness in the person of Christ! 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” You may behave more righteously than you do right now, but you will never be made more righteous than you are today. Every Christian has the nature of Christ. How can we get holier than that? When our focus is only on behavior, we are living a legalistic, performance-based kind of “Christian” life. God’s prescription is that our focus should be on Jesus. Abiding in Him will allow us to live in victory.
Don’t get caught up in living by values. Live by His life.
Our lifestyle is not built on values - Christian or otherwise. Our life is Christ! As we abide in Him, His righteousness is expressed through our lifestyle. Apart from him, even our “good” deeds are nothing more than empty religion. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We can preach, pray, teach, witness, give, and do a hundred other things, but they all add up to zero in God’s eyes if we aren’t abiding in Christ. Don’t get caught up in living by values. Live by His life. An imitation of Christ is empty religion. An expression of Christ is real Christianity. An imitation is never as good as the real thing. Don’t settle for a cheap substitute. Abide in Him!