What are the characteristics of a Christian?
What are the characteristics of a Christian? Is there any way to differentiate between true Christians and those who aren’t?
A Christian’s relationships
The name “Christian” was first given to the disciples. (Acts 11:26) So a Christian is also a disciple. The conditions for being a disciple are clearly written in Luke 14:26-27,33, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Our relationship with our parents, marriage partner, children, possessions and our future in this world must be according to what Christ teaches us.We must be independent from them in our spirit, so that our relationship to them doesn’t hinder us from doing what is right and pure in God’s eyes.
A Christian—a free man
It is a great misunderstanding to think that being a Christian is the same as being a so-called “pardoned sinner”, implying that he is still bound to continue in sin. In the verses below, we get a better understanding of what the will of God is for us, with regard to sin.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” 1 John 2:1. “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.” 1 John 2:13. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ …” 2 Corinthians 2:14.
A Christian is someone who brings his life into complete harmony with the Word of God and His will.
A Christian has a good conscience; he has put his past life in order; all his actions are in the light. All his sins are forgiven; he is grounded in God and has built his life on the Rock, which is Christ. He is immovable.
A Christian—not merely a meeting-goer
Being a Christian does not mean you are a religious “meeting-goer,” someone who goes to Christian meetings rather than to places of worldy entertainment, but otherwise is just like other people. Not at all! A Christian is someone who brings his life into complete harmony with the Word of God and His will. He is righteous where others are unrighteous; he is patient where others are impatient, diligent where others are lazy, and exact where others are inexact. He speaks the truth boldly where others flatter, play the hypocrite, and lie. He is meek, longsuffering, and quiet where others are hot-tempered and impetuous, etc. (1 Peter 1:15)
Being a Christian means that he is completely unselfish. It means that he starts thinking about the others’ needs, as God works it in his heart: what is good and practical for them and what would benefit them. Then, then, according to his ability, he helps them to obtain it. Christianity is synonymous with serving and giving—giving of everything we have, both of spiritual and earthly goods. This is the essence of love. (Romans 15:2,7)
A Christian—free from the spirit of the times
A Christian is somebody that is not being influenced by the spirit of the times. A large number of people in the world are living in sin. They follow their passions and desires and few think it is wrong. There is a spirit behind them, and this spirit is called “the spirit of the times.” It is particularly difficult to resist this spirit. What is commonly known as “fashion” is representative of this spirit.
An ungodly person can be likened to a lifeless marionette. Whenever one power or another pulls the strings, he has to jump and dance, whether he wants to or not. A Christian has Christ as his sole Lord and ruler. Then he does not obey other powers; he does not obey the fashions or the spirit of the times, even if everyone else does.
A Christian—being righteous
Being a Christian means that that person is righteous in all his affairs. Therefore if he has stolen anything or committed some other act of unrighteousness, he will make restitution as soon as he becomes a Christian. If he is in debt, he will make every effort to pay it back. There is no way around it. In this respect it does not help to appeal to the atonement. If he does not practice righteousness, he is not a Christian at all, and he will not enter the kingdom of God. “Everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:29.
A Christian, because of his progressive victory over his own lust and desires, starts to enjoy perfect rest in his heart and mind. His life, being purified by the help of his Saviour, becomes more and more irreproachable and blameless. No one can any longer point the finger at manifest sin such as outbursts of anger, irritation or any unrighteousness.
As the Christian appreciates the power of the Holy Spirit in his life more and more, he naturally becomes stronger and stronger by the same Spirit. The Christian can endure trials, discomfort, good report and evil report. This he does as he is confident that he serves a faithful Master. What was impossible for him in the past, he is now able to overcome. This is especially noticed by those that are themselves in need of overcoming.
A constant development
However, we cannot expect to have perfect victory right away, which is why we read, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2.
He must not lose courage and give up in his fight against sin, because it takes time to become and to be an overcomer.
Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance that a Christian is not content with suffering defeat, and so becomes slack and indifferent. He must not lose courage and give up in his fight against sin, because it takes time to become and to be an overcomer. He must continue to live in hope and faith, pressing on until he breaks through to a victorious life. This is all done by the assistance of and obedience to the Holy Spirit of God. It is especially blessed to be in a fellowship of Christians that has the same desire and will to overcome. Such people are led by their great Shepherd—Jesus Christ—as they are following Him in His steps.
A Christian’s reward
Having been faithful to God by obeying his commandments as given to him by God’s Son, Jesus Christ, a Christian will be rewarded with everlasting life.
John 3:36. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 4:14. “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting eternal life.”
Revelation 20:12-15. “I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
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You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.