BehaviorsSnippets only - Coming soon
China plans to implement its ‘Social Credit System’ in 2020 in order to get her citizens ‘behaving’ in a manner that their political leaders want them to.
China started piloting the system in 2018. Like private credit scores, a person’s social grade can go up or down depending on their behaviour although the algorithms to calculate the score are kept secret. ‘Bad’ scores include poor driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games, posting fake news online, or not completing sufficient steps in a day. Citizens who attain bad scores are ‘punished’, including being banned from flying or getting on a train, throttling of internet speeds, and even banning you from getting the best jobs.
But human behaviors are more than just a series of conditioning; we are created in the image of God with the capacity to think. We can choose to do things differently.
The Project Team has systematically categorized various Christian behaviors found in the New Testament and are making the list transparent. Like sin-types, each behavioral element will be supported by relevant Biblical verses as well as a short explanation.
It is our hope that through the provision of the blueprint, believers will appreciate the Word of God and live a more enriching life. We choose to modify our behavior because we love God.
B1 - Love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind
Luke 10:27, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ Jesus made it very clear that the first commandment is that we should love our God with everything that we have (our heart, soul, strength, and mind). Wow. How does one do that? To love with such intensity? How does one demonstrate such passionate love on this earth? Jesus gave us this response: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13-14). To be prepared to pay the ultimate price through death for someone else would be a true demonstration of love.
Rev 12:11 talks about a group of end-times’ believers that will be living through the Great Tribulation with these words, ‘And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, FOR THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES EVEN UNTO DEATH.’
How do we know that we love God?
B2 - Love God, keep his word (commandments)
John 15:10, ‘When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.’
The Apostle John was more explicit in 1 John 2:4, ‘Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.’
If we love God, we will naturally keep his words as found in the Bible. We will do what he asks us to do. 1 John 5:3 says,m ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.’
B3 - Submit to God
James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” But the word, ‘submit’, is so very difficult when it comes to each of us. We have been created with a will to decide. We are all like wild horses. We enjoy our freedom. Yet, to be used by the Master, we have to learn to submit to God and his will. The Greek word is ‘hupotasso’, and it means ‘to place or rank under, to subject, to obey’.
But to submit, we have to know who and what we are submitting to. This topic has become significant in the light that ‘Islam’ also means ‘voluntary submission to God’. But Islam is not Christianity.
How do we hear God and understand his will for us? We will discuss further at the Section of ‘Hearing God/ Decision Making’.
B4 - Do not take God's patience for granted
Rom 2:4, ‘Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?’
We are not to take God’s kindness and patience for granted but our heart should always be thankful to him for granting us time to repent.
B5 - Observe our actions as they reflect our heart
Matt 21:28-30, ‘A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’
Proverbs 16:2 tells us, ‘All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.’ We may not even know ourselves. But our actions provide a window to show who we are and what we love.
What wakes you up early without the need of an alarm clock? For a colleague of ours, it is ‘live’ football (or soccer, in some parts of the world).
We have to observe our actions and see what it means in our relationship with God. Our actions always speak louder than our confession.
B6 - Worship God in spirit and truth
We are to worship God in spirit and in truth as in John 4:23-24. But what does that mean? The Greek word for ‘spirit’ and ‘truth’ are ‘pneuma’ and ‘aletheia’. They are translated appropriately although there is more to ‘truth’ as in sincerity, reality, and straightforwardness (no agenda).
Our spirit has to fellowship with his Spirit. See also B18, Relationship with the Holy Spirit/ Tongue-Edification.
B7 - Honor the Son, honor the Father
John 5:22-23, ‘For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.’
Our role is to ‘honor the Son’, that is, Jesus Christ. How do we honor the Son? Please refer to B2, Relationship with God/ Word. We have to obey the commandments laid down by Jesus.
B8 - Abide in Jesus
John 15:4-5 says, ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’
Our role is to ‘abide in Christ’, that is, stay attached to him. How do we abide in Christ? The secret lies in the next few verses also in John 15:
- Allow God’s words to abide in you (John 15:7),
- Keep the commandments that Christ have given us (John 15:10), and
- Love one another (John 15:12).
Then, bearing fruit will come naturally.
B9 - Obtain (inner) peace by staying in Christ
John 14:27, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’ The Lord promised us peace, but a different sort of peace from that propagated by the world. Then, in John 16:33, Jesus explained a bit more by saying that it was in him that we ‘may have peace’. It is an inner peace. It is, as Ph 4:7 explains, ‘a peace that surpasses all understanding’; a peace that reminds while the world is in chaos and upheaval.
To get that peace, the Lord’s mandate to us is to remain in Christ. That is our action; to stay close to Christ.
B10 - Pursue Christ
‘When the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days’ – John 4:40. This was after the woman who had five husbands testified to her people what Jesus told her in a word of knowledge.
This was completely different from Mark 5:1-20 when Jesus cast out many demons who were possessing one man. There, Jesus allowed these demons to enter a herd of around two thousand pigs in the vicinity. Even though the man was made well, the town came out and begged Jesus to depart from the region.
Jesus Christ needs to be pursued. He comes and invites us to fellowship with him. But ultimately, it is for us whether to accept or not. And then it is up to us to pursue him – to search for him with our heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 explains, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
B11 - Listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit (the Teacher)
Under the section on ‘Doctrines’, you will discover that the Holy Spirit is a person and not a force (D74 – Holy Spirit/ Personality). The Holy Spirit guides us as a teacher. (John 14:26). He prompts us. We can listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, for example, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt 4:1). We can be guided by the Holy Spirit through his prompting. The challenge for everyone is to learn how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
B12 - Do not lie to the Holy Spirit
Firstly, don’t lie (S107 Speech/ Lying). Lying is a sin. In Acts 5:3, we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira. The couple wanted to look good among other people. So, they sold a piece of property (a good thing) but kept part of it back. We hypothesized that they must have told others they gave the full amount to the new church. And that was a lie. According to the Apostle Peter, that was lying to the Holy Spirit and it was a grave sin. Both of them were judged by God and died on the spot, one after the other.
The bottom line is – ‘Don’t lie’, whether it is in the ministry or outside. If we want the blessings of God, speak the truth. Then, we would not be caught out, whether by others or by the Holy Spirit.
B13 - Don't quench (suppress or grieve) the Spirit
1 Thes 5:19 says, ‘Do not quench the Holy Spirit’. The other translations use slightly different word – NLT calls it ‘stifle’, Berean uses the word, ‘extinguish’ and the Good News Translation says ‘restrain’. The Greek word is ‘sbennumi’ or ‘suppress’, ‘extinguish’.
How does one ‘quench’, ‘extinguish’ and ‘suppress’ a fire? If we pour sand or water over it? If we starve the fire off oxygen? Will it be the equivalent of choosing to ignore the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit? Engaging in sinful activities that we know the Holy Spirit is not in favor of? Continuous non-repentance of sin(s)? Not praying in the Spirit (or just praying) (See B17 – Relationship with the Holy Spirit/ Tongue-Edification) or reading the Word of God to strengthen ourselves?
Later, in Eph 4:30, Paul used the word, ‘Grieve’; NLT calls it, ‘bring sorrow’ while the GNT says ‘make God’s Spirit sad.’ The concept is still the same except a degree worse. Eph 4:31 went further to say believers should ‘get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice.’ Will such behavioral traits represent ‘grieving’ of the Holy Spirit?
Unforgiveness, bitterness, rage and anger hinder our relationship with the Holy Spirit and our ability to hear God audibly.
B14 - Be full of the Spirit
Eph 5:18 says ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. The Bible mentioned about some believers who were ‘full of the Holy Spirit’.
There was Peter who ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’, answered the rulers and elders gathered together in Jerusalem. He spoke clearly and authoritatively. There were the brethrens tasked to be overseers of the early church – ‘Select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom’ – Acts 6:3. There was Stephen who was described as a ‘man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit’ – Acts 6:5. And there was Jesus who was full of the Holy Spirit when he was led around the wilderness and withstood Satan’s temptation – Luke 4:1.
A person liked Stephen did many miracles but others like Peter was bold in the face of attack from people. We also know that Stephen was very forgiving and brave even in the face of his own cruel death (Acts 7).
To be ‘full of the Spirit’ will firstly required us to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (See also B181, Baptism/ Holy Spirit).
B15 - Be filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit
John the Baptist himself was described as being ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ (Luke 1:15).
When Jesus was resurrected, he appeared to his disciples and left a specific instruction at the last verse of the Book of Luke, Luke 24:49, ‘And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’
And Luke continued in the Book of Acts clarifying what that promise was in Acts 1:4-5: “You heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
In Acts 8:17, Peter went to Samaria to pray for the new converts to receive the Holy Spirit ‘for he had not yet fallen on any of them’ … ‘Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.’ So, it looks like a separate experience.
In Acts 10:44, Peter witnessed the amazing event as the first Gentile converts, Cornelius and his household, experienced the Holy Spirit. It says, ‘While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised (that is, Jews) who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.’ By v46, it expands to ‘for they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.’
What is this ‘manifested gift’? 1 Cor 12:8-10 tells us the various gifts – utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working or miracles, ability to distinguish spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. So, can we identify among these gifts what was that ‘manifested gift’?
The secret lies in the word, ‘another’. Two Greek words were used to describe ‘another’ – ‘Heteros’ and ‘Allos’. ‘Heteros’ was used for both faith and various kinds of tongues while ‘Allos’ was used for all the rest.
‘Allos’ means ‘another of the same kind’ while ‘Heteros’ means ‘another of a different kind’, that is, it is ‘qualitatively different from its counterpart.’ It implies that these elements of ‘faith’ and ‘tongues’ described here were a ‘different kind’, that is, these were ‘supernatural faith’ and ‘supernatural tongues’.
If that is the case, then it makes sense as to why ‘heteros’ is used for ‘various kinds of tongues’ in 1 Cor 12:10.
So, this is what we know:
- The Holy Spirit comes as a separate experience after a believer’s conversion,
- The believer has a visible and recognizable experience as seen by others,
- The experience is manifested with the outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit,
- The specific gift is the speaking in tongues,
- The Holy Spirit is received either directly (‘fell upon them’) or through the laying of hands.
A necessary action for a believer is to be ‘filled (or baptized) with the Holy Spirit’.