Characteristic (s)

<<distinctive feature, quality>>

Individual identifying features distinguish us from each another. While people have many similarities, other qualities are peculiar and unique to us. All humans have an inherent sinful nature reinforced by our own sinful choices so are doomed to a Christ-less eternity

What qualities define me?

 as ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Rom 6:23). We are designed to communicate with God, but sin creates a barrier, yet for those who turn to Him for salvation, Christ’s death and resurrection removes this blockage. This means humanity can be split into two groups: those who know Christ and have become part of the Kingdom of God, and those presently not members of this Kingdom who will not enter heaven if they die without repenting (of their sin).

God’s qualities

As mortal humans we don’t fully comprehend the multitude of God’s interconnected attributes, that form His perfect, whole being (Job 9:10; Mt 5:48). For as the heavens are so much

In every wholesome thing, God is the ultimate

higher than earth, so are His character and thoughts above ours, with His ways unsearchable or unfathomable to our finite human minds (Isa 55:8; Rom 11:33).

Listed here are just some specific characteristics that set Him apart from humanity:

He is infinite – He has always existed and always will; He is complete in Himself and never changes (Mal 3:6; Jn 5:26; Col 1:17). Thus His promises and plans are dependable. He is omnipotent (all powerful) doing whatever He wants, yet will not do what is contrary to His nature (Ps 33:6; Isa 46:10; Lk 1:37; Eph 3:20). Because God is omniscient (all knowing) we can trust in His steadfast love (Ps 13:5, 33:18). He is omnipresent (everywhere at once) and sees all we do (Ps 139:7-10; Jer 23:23,24).

God is love (1 Jn 4:7,8,16). This is not just a sentiment but was practically expressed when Jesus died in our place and this divine quality will extend to us all our lives (Jer 31:3; Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1 Jn 3:1,16).

God is just and merciful (Deut 32:4; Jnh 4:2; Rom 9:15,16). He constantly does what is right and good towards all people. God requires justice for sin, either from Christ’s atoning death (on the behalf of those who turn from sin and accept His offer of salvation) or, for those who will not accept it, eternal wrath in hell. Believers experience His mercy; not getting what their sin deserves and instead receive His grace of forgiveness that they don’t deserve.

He is sovereign over everything and is still at work, outworking His plans and purposes in the world and in our individual lives, bringing us (His children) into conformity to Christ (Rom 8:29).

God is holy, being morally perfect in all things and is therefore set apart from creation and in contrast to impotent false gods (Ex 15:11; Lev 11:44, 20:26; Isa 40:25; 1 Pet 1:16).

When Jesus came to earth He remained sinless, but through the divine exchange took our sin that we might have His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15).

See also: God.

The traits of unbelievers

While many unsaved are good living people and exhibit Christian qualities, they are not God living people – not living in connection to Him, so although they live commendable lives this will not grant them access to heaven as Jesus stated those who reject Him will experience God’s wrath (Jn 3:36).

Satan has blinded their minds to the gospel and in ignorance their hearts have become hardened (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 4:18). They are disobedient to the call to repent, instead catering to their fleshy desires, being “slaves to sin” (Jn 8:34; Act 17:30; Rom 6:16; Gal 5:19-21). Paul lists some of the typical characteristics of those who do not follow Christ but display the nature of their master Satan (Jn 8:44; 2 Tim 3:2-5). Jesus taught that by the fruit, we know the root (Mt 12:33).

See also: disobedience, identity, unbelievers.

Christian virtues

Just as unbelievers reflect Satan’s characteristics, children of God are to increasingly mirror the divine nature (even though as a poor representation). The Bible states the old sinful life is to be replaced with His holy nature. A variety of terms are used to describe this monumental change: putting to death the old nature, putting off the works of the

What Christian virtues do you sense developing in your life?

flesh, putting on godly qualities along with the spiritual armour to withstand the attacks of Satan, “The old has passed away, the new has come” (Rom 8:13, 13:14; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 5:24; Eph 4:24, 6:11ff; Col 3:5,9,10,12,14).

The reflection of the nature of God, as revealed in Jesus and called the fruit of the Spirit, will increasingly develop in our lives as we grow in spiritual qualities (Gal 5:22,23; 2 Pet 1:5-8). As our mind is transformed and we live according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit we can live a life pleasing to God, surrendering to His Lordship and being conformed to the character of Christ (Rom 8:29, 12:1,2; Gal 5:22-25; Eph 4:1; Col 1:10). Our response should be one of humble trust and obedience, submitting to His will whether we understand it or not, recognising we are saved by His grace not any puny efforts we make (Eph 2:8,9). However, although good works can’t save us, they should be an integral part of our witness as a believer.

Following Christ should influence every part of our lives with His Kingdom taking priority as we strive for holiness (purity), with sin no longer being our master; this calls for self-discipline in our thoughts and saying ‘No’ to ungodly passions and living with integrity as we are fully connected to Him the divine 'vine' from whom we receive spiritual sustainence (Mt 5:28, 6:33; Jn 15:1-8; Rom 6:14; 2 Cor 10:4,5; 1 Thes 4:3-5; Tit 2:12; 1 Pet 1:15,16, 2:1; 1 Jn 3:3).

Although we are in the world we are not to love its corrupt ways that oppose God’s nature and will (1 Jn 2:15,16). While as believers we still sin, we do not keep sinning as if nothing is wrong (Rom 6:1,2; Eph 4:22,24; 1 Jn 3:6-10,24). We are to examine ourselves and when the Holy Spirit convicts of sinful behaviour (attitudes, thoughts, words or actions) we must confess it and repent to restore fellowship with Him (2 Cor 13:5; 1 Jn 1:9).

We are commanded to love God with our whole being and our neighbour as ourselves (Mk 12:30,31). We show our love to God by obeying Him (Jn 14:15; 1 Jn 5:3). Our love for others is expressed as the 'golden rule', doing to them as we would like done to us, not reciprocating in a harmful or ungodly way (Lk 6:31; Jn 13:34,35; 1 Jn 2:9,10, 4:20,21). Non-retaliation,

Can people recognise me as a Christian by the lifestyle I live?

turning the other cheek, overlooking offences, blessing those who mistreat us by extending love and forgiveness, besides speaking politely to others are all evidence of God working through us  (Lk 6:29; Col 4:6; 1 Pet 3:9). A healthy self-esteem enables us to be focused on others, reflecting the attitude of Christ who came “not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45; Gal 5:13; Phil 2:4).

There will be a desire to know God more intimately through prayer and reading His Word besides meeting with fellow Christians and introducing the unsaved to Him. With confidence and joy we can look beyond present persecution and suffering in this life to what He will bring to completion in us and the reward when we will be with the Lord in heaven forevermore (Mt 5:10; Phil 1:6,29, 3:14; Heb 12:2).

We are told, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:12,13). We must work out what God works in us, for without our participation and effort it can’t happen. Divine enablement is the starting point but we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit to effect the change in us (Zech 4:6; Jn 8:32).

See also: Christian, fruit (spiritual), golden rule, good works, hearing God's voice, identity, obedience, opposite spirit, put off/put on, self-discipline, spiritual disciplines, walk.