Vol.XVII No.XI Pg.3
January 1981

Believers Or Blasphemers

Dan S. Shipley

It is a mistake for any person to assume that his conduct is without influence. However, the mistake is compounded when made by a Christian. Those who claim allegiance to lofty standards should expect to find themselves being scrutinized more often and more critically than those who don't — and by those who don't. None subjects himself to a higher standard than does the Christian. Obviously, his lifestyle should continually reflect this commitment.

Accordingly, the apostle Paul says, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ..." (Phil. 1:27). It is important to see that the gospel goes beyond "religion" and making one a Christian — it influences our "manner of life"; the way we live. Through its message we are instructed to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). As Christians learn and apply gospel truth to all circumstances of life, they are living "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Such living makes one a partaker of the divine nature and less like the world — and in ways that are obvious. Thus, Jesus says, "Ye are the light of the world... let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 5:14-16). Men see how we live. When they see "good works" it can influence them for good (comp. 1 Pet. 2:12). Children see; neighbors see; brethren see; co-workers see; the world sees. The question is, WHAT? Because what they see in the Christian may help them to become a believer — or a blasphemer. Look at the Jewish influence on the Gentiles, for instance. "For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you..." (Rom. 2:24) Had the Jews lived up to their law and their own preaching, they would have made more believers and less blasphemers. As R. L. Whiteside once wrote, "It is hard to make any one believe there is any good in your doctrine, if it has not done you any good... The greatest hindrance to the spread of the gospel today is the conduct of many of its professed believers. Immorality, worldly-mindedness, dishonest dealing, and divisions hinder Christianity". (Comm. on Rom.) To which I can only add a hearty, amen!

What Paul writes concerning the conduct of young wives and mothers is applicable to all Christians — "that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:4, 5). It is true that even good conduct may sometimes be criticized. But there can be no excuse for public misconduct and the attendant adverse reactions it brings to the cause of Christ. Could Paul say to some of us as he did to the Jews, that the name of God is blasphemed "BECAUSE OF YOU"? Because YOU won't pay your bills? Because YOU engage in social drinking? Because YOU use profanity? Because YOU are a liar, or because YOU have been dishonest? Hopefully not. But, on the other hand, could it be said that "BECAUSE OF YOU" others have been influenced to become believers? Because YOU lived a godly example? Because YOU refused to be conformed to the world? As the song says, we may be "the only Bible the careless world will read". May we help and not hinder.