Most people live a life of reaction and feeling. We do what we do based upon how we feel in the moment. We react to a situation, information, or emotion. We rarely sit down and think through why we vote Republican, why we lose our temper, why we go to Sunday School, etc. We just act without thought. The Bible gives us tremendous insights into human behavior and what it stems from. As we begin our study, we must first come to a proper understanding of why we do what we do.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:14-20
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26
What we believe is seen by what we do. Our beliefs are lived out in every situation. As James so clearly points out, behavior is driven by actual belief not professed belief. The behavior is not the main issue; the belief system behind the behavior is where the fault lies. What you do shows what you actually believe.
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matthew 12:33-37
Jesus shows that the solution is a change within the inner man. This change can only be brought about by faith in Him. For behavior to be corrected, the inner beliefs of the man must first be corrected.
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Romans 14:23
The origin of all sin is unbelief. So the solution to all sin is proper belief in Jesus. Doctrine drives actions.
And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Matthew 15:16-20
It is not what we put into our lives that make us do certain things. It is our actions that show what we truly are on the inside. For example, certain kinds of music do not cause rebellious behavior; hearts that are already rebellious crave certain types of music.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
Most humans let feelings drive both behavior and belief. There course of action is emotion – action – belief. The Bible teaches the exact opposite. We must be a people of belief that results in action that produces a emotion.
For example, a woman has an unexpected pregnancy. The lost woman lets her feelings of insecurity, shame, etc. drive her to an abortion. She then proclaims that she is pro-choice. The Christian woman believes that the unborn baby bears the image of God. She is pro-life. Because of this she keeps her baby in spite of her fears. She then experiences the joy of a child.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:15-27
As Christians we must base our lives on God’s Word not empty professions that are not based upon reality.