Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 28, 1963
NUMBER 42, PAGE 5,13c

The Christian's Behavior And Attitude Of Others Toward The Truth

Robert H. Farish

It is not the head line making scandals, in which church members are involved that cause the greatest hindrance to the truth, but the little cheap tricks, "small" dishonesties, cowardice's in small things, jealousies and corner-cutting tactics in general. These every day exhibits of unrighteousness are the things that repel people and give them a bad impression of the gospel and the church. This is not to be construed as in any sense a defense of the "big steal" or adultery or murder or any sin. Rather it is an attempt to alert brethren to a termite-like danger. Termites are not regarded as significant by some people, at least not until they have seen the havoc they can cause.

The effects of the church members' behavior upon the attitude of the outsider toward the Bible deserves careful attention from every church member. In the first place it should be noted that the behavior of a child of God is regulated by a different standard than that of the man of the world. The things written by inspired men have as part of their design "that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God." (1 Tim. 3:15.) If a child of God behaves according to the "things" which the apostles wrote, he need have no fear that his behavior will have an adverse effect upon any one's attitude toward the Scriptures.

The profound effect which the conduct of a professed child of God can have upon the attitude of others toward God, Christ and the Bible is given attention in the Bible.

John 17:20, 21

Christ prayed that those "that believe on me through their word....may all be one; ...that the world may believe that thou didst send me." Division and dissension among those who claim to believe on Christ through the words of the apostles is one of the most prolific contributors to unbelief. True oneness of believers would be an unanswerable argument for the divine origin of the word by which they came to believe.

2 Corinthians 6:3-10

The apostle introduces his conduct in adversity as well as in prosperity as evidence of the fact that he was a minister of God. "Giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our ministration be not blamed: but in everything commending ourselves, as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities. in distresses...

1 Peter 3:1-2

"In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that even if any obey not the word they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear." The power of example is not realized by the average person. Yet here as well as in other places God assures his children of the efficacy of example. Godly living does have a deep and lasting effect upon people. The passage is not teaching that one can be gained without the word of God, but rather is teaching that the right kind of example will have greater weight that "just talking" will have. When the fruits of the word of God are seen in the life of the one, who claims to have been gained by that word, the word will have greater weight.

1 Peter 2:12

"Having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." Commenting on this passage Macknight says, "The calumnies which the heathen spread concerning the Christians, is termed a speaking against them, because what they said was greatly to their dishonor 'may glorify God in the day of visitation' — that is, in the time of persecution.... It is well known, that the patience, fortitude and meekness with which the first Christians bare persecution for their religion, and the forgiving disposition which they expressed toward their persecutors made such an impression on the heathens who were witnesses to their sufferings, that many of them glorified God by embracing the gospel."

Matthew 5:16

"Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

Men glorify God when they do the will of God; the will of God is revealed in the Bible, hence, Christ is teaching Christians the effect that seeing their good works will have upon the attitude of others toward the will of God.

Many other passages could be introduced to show that the conduct of the Christian has a profound effect upon the attitude which those who are outside hold toward the Bible but these are sufficient for the present case. Those on the outside will not be drawn to a consideration of the contents of the Bible nearly so much by what the friends of the Bible claim for it as by what they demonstrate that it has done for them.

"Living Papers"

In Living Papers, vol. 1, Principal Cairns has a chapter on Christianity and Miracles. On his point on Christian morality as evidence in proof of miracles, he writes: "The only really influential objections to the Christian morality are those connected with its difficulty, and its failure to realize itself among professed Christians; and this has caused the gospel to suffer more than all other hindrances put together, (Emp. mine R.NF.) for inconsistencies of Christian nations and churches have been seen and read of all men, while the excuses for those failures, and even the attempts to clear Christianity from this reproach, have not been equally successful in impressing the general mind." Certainly the "general mind" of our day has very little impression of the efforts of the Stones, Campbells and other to bring about the unity of the Spirit by appealing to the Scriptures as the sole rule or standard of authority in religion.

Ponder soberly this truth — "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18)

— 417 E. Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas