Practical Questions and Biblical Answers Concerning Christ-like Character Development
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Steven Riser; ©2003|
|Character is who God knows us to be. It is what we are when no one else is looking. Dr. Riser says, in fact, that character is in large measure a function of our integrity, convictions and moral fortitude.|
- 1 Practical Questions and Biblical Answers Concerning Christ-like Character Development’
- 1.1 What is Character?
- 1.2 What Is Christian Character?
- 1.3 Why Is The Development Of Christian Character So Important?
- 1.4 How is Christian Ministry Related to Character Development? What is our primary character goal?
- 1.5 What Is Our Primary Motivation?
- 1.6 What Are Some Basic Principles And Core Values Regarding Character Formation?
- 1.7 What Is The Chief Problem?
- 1.8 What Is The Chief Difficulty?
- 1.9 What Is The Chief Error?
- 1.10 What Is The Chief Tool In Character Development?
- 1.11 What Is The Chief Agent In The Transformation Process?
- 1.12 What Is The Correct Context For This Transformation Process?
- 1.13 What Is The Chief Method?
- 1.14 What Is The Chief Challenge?
- 1.15 What Are The Chief Building Blocks Of Character?
- 1.16 How Can We Define Success In Terms Of Character?
- 1.17 Since Christian Character Is Based On Biblical Convictions, What Are Some Of Those Convictions?
- 1.18 How Is Christ-like Character Developed?
- 1.19 What Is The Essence Of Character?
- 1.20 How Do We Pray About Developing Character?
- 1.21 Is Character Made In A Crisis?
- 1.22 How Does It Affect Our Ability To Positively Influence Others?
- 1.23 What Is The Turning Point In Character?
- 1.24 What Are The Consequences Of Violating The Character Of Christ Living Inside Us?
- 1.25 What Is The Alternative To Living A Life Based On Character?
- 1.26 What Is The Effect Of Others On Our Character?
- 1.27 How Teachable Are We To Learn What God Desires For Us To Learn?
Practical Questions and Biblical Answers Concerning Christ-like Character Development’
What is Character?
Character is who God knows us to be. It is who we are when no one else is looking. We are what we have been becoming. The test of character is what we would do if no one ever knew. Character is in large measure a function of our integrity, convictions and moral fortitude.
What Is Christian Character?
Christian character is very simply the life of God living within you. Paul refers to Christians as new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) and Peter says that we partake of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). It is grounded in our personal relationship with Christ and in our commitment to godly values.
How Is God’s Plan For Us Related To The Development Of Christ-like Character?
God has predestined us to be conformed to the image (or the character) of His Son (Rom. 8:29).
His plan is that His Spirit transform us so that we can become like His Son (2 Cor. 3:18). We are more conformed to the character and conduct of Christ as we grow in His grace and knowledge.
Why Is The Development Of Christian Character So Important?
It will determine in large measure our legacy—that for which we will be best remembered.
It will determine our heritage—our greatest heritage we give to our posterity is a godly example.
It will determine our destiny, according to Paul in Galatians 6:7-8.
Someone said, “Sow a thought, reap an attitude; Sow an attitude, reap an action; Sow an action, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
How is Christian Ministry Related to Character Development? What is our primary character goal?
Our primary goal, according to the Apostle Paul is to bring everyone up to his or her full maturity in Christ—helping others to be more conformed to Christ-like character and conduct (Col. 1:28, 29).
What Is Our Primary Motivation?
Our primary motivation: to please and glorify God out of gratitude in response to His grace. We learn to please God by reflecting His attributes through Christ-like character (1 Cor. 10:31).
What Are Some Basic Principles And Core Values Regarding Character Formation?
Character formation is not optional but essential in the sanctification process.
It is a life-long process of sinning less—putting off the old man and putting on the new. It is a function of God’s Word and Spirit—knowing, desiring and doing God’s will.
It is uniquely tailored to the individual’s needs, temperament, gifts and personality. It requires conscious cooperation with God’s Spirit as He works in our lives.
It involves radical self-examination and genuine repentance—a change in thinking and attitude.
It involves our personal responsibility/accountability—it takes others to bring out the best in us.
It involves loving service/gift related ministry—unselfishly meeting the basic needs of others.
It involves being an agent of God’s grace—passing on to others the grace God has given us.
It involves being a vessel of God’s truth—speaking and living God’s truth in love.
What Is The Chief Problem?
“The biggest problem with me is me.” Too often, I think I (rather than God) am the center of the universe and that the world should revolve around me. The chief problem with me is my selfish pride—it is my failing to honor God as God and give Him His rightful place in my life (Rom. 1:21).
What Is The Chief Difficulty?
My chief difficulty is that I am deceived into thinking that, “I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I am deceived into thinking that I am better off disobeying God than obeying God. I am deceived into thinking I can save myself.
What Is The Chief Error?
I am deceived because of my ignorance of God’s Word and Power (Matt. 22:29). My chief error is that I am not willing to learn from God’s Word and I am not willing to submit to the control of God’s Spirit (Col. 3:15; Eph. 5:18). God’s Word and Spirit illuminates and humbles us.
What Is The Chief Tool In Character Development?
The chief tool that God uses to transform my character is His Word—the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Through assimilating God’s Word, I learn to think God’s thoughts after Him (Isa. 55:8-9).
What Is The Chief Agent In The Transformation Process?
The chief agent of character formation is God’s Holy Spirit. Our lives gradually become brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him (2 Cor. 3:18). This transforming activity is the work of the Spirit. It takes the Spirit to bring about the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
What Is The Correct Context For This Transformation Process?
It’s not, “Jesus and me,” it’s “Jesus and we!” It takes other believers to bring out the best in us. Just as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Prov. 27:17). The proper context for character transformation is the Christ-centered, Bible-believing faith community (Heb. 10:24, 25).
What Is The Chief Method?
As we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). God wants us to assimilate His written word so that it becomes living in our lives. We are to let Christ’s Word dwell in us richly, making us wise (Col. 3:15).
What Is The Chief Challenge?
We don’t naturally think God’s thoughts after Him (Isa. 55:8-9). As a matter of fact, we have many ideas and thoughts that do not correspond to reality—to God’s Word. Our chief challenge is to tear down the barriers (unbiblical ideas) that are erected against God’s truth—to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
What Are The Chief Building Blocks Of Character?
We are to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness—Christ like character (1 Tim. 4:7a). These godly disciplines or habits include assimilating God’s Word, prayer and fasting, submission to the Spirit, service, stewardship, public and private worship, confession, guidance, accountability.
How Can We Define Success In Terms Of Character?
Success is when: “those who know you the best, love and respect you the most” (John Maxwell).
Since Christian Character Is Based On Biblical Convictions, What Are Some Of Those Convictions?
- The Bible is the inspired Word of God and the final authority in my life (2 Tim. 3:16).
- My purpose in life is to love God first and foremost and to order my life around his priorities.
- My body is the temple of God’s Spirit and I must not defile it (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
- My church should teach the foundational truths of the Bible (Matt. 7:15-16).
- My children are a gift from God and I should seek to develop godly character in them (Dt. 6:6,7).
- My actions must never weaken the Scriptural convictions of others (Rom. 14:13).
- My marriage is a life-long commitment to God and my spouse (Matt. 19:6).
- My money is a trust from God and it must be earned and managed faithfully and wisely (Lk. 16:11).
- My words must be in harmony with God’s Word, especially when correcting another (Gal. 6:1).
- My affections should be set on things above, not on things in the earth (Col. 3:2).
How Is Christ-like Character Developed?
It is developed by beholding (2 Cor. 3:18) the Living Word in the written Word (Jn. 5:39-40). Many approaches to character development involve, at their root, seeking to modify people’s behavior without seeking a corresponding internal change. They involve seeking to DO something different without having to BE something different first. In the end, human effort only affects the appearance of a person. True character starts from within (Phil. 2:12- 13) and expands outward. Our character must precede our conduct. “It can’t happen through you until it happens to you.”
What Is The Essence Of Character?
It can be understood as the desire and the ability to do what is right even when the going is tough; especially when the going gets tough. This necessitates a series of pre-decisions; it requires one to determine and commit to what is right before the struggle to do what is right ensues.
How Do We Pray About Developing Character?
At the beginning of each day it would be a good thing to pray, “Lord, give me the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do what is right, even when it’s hard. Amen” (Andy Stanley).
Is Character Made In A Crisis?
No, it is only exhibited in a crisis. The same sun that melts butter hardens clay. Circumstances can affect people differently depending on their character. Our character is reflected in every decision we make and every relationship that we establish. The test of character reveals the law of the harvest; in the moment of testing, we reap what we have sown. There are no shortcuts to character.
How Does It Affect Our Ability To Positively Influence Others?
Our character determines our moral authority, which is the credibility we earn by “walking the talk.” When our beliefs and behavior are in alignment, we have credibility and a corresponding influence.
What Is The Turning Point In Character?
The turning point in character development is the regeneration of the heart. Being born again makes us new creatures in Christ with new desires and abilities to please God. No religious event or righteous cause can accomplish what God intends: Christ living in and through us. The indwelling Spirit works within us to will and do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:10-11).
What Are The Consequences Of Violating The Character Of Christ Living Inside Us?
We compromise and suffer by trading character for something of lesser value. When we compromise godly convictions, we begin to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we want to believe. Because we are not in fellowship with God, we no longer sense His presence in or blessing on our lives. The power to please God and our ability to positively influence others declines.
What Is The Alternative To Living A Life Based On Character?
A life of character is based on the principle: by the grace of God, I am going to obey the wise and loving principles of God’s Word. It considers the long-term consequences that our actions have on our relationship with God. The alternative is a life based on comfort and convenience which in turn is based on impulse and emotion. It says, “I’m going to do whatever I feel is best. I’m going to do whatever brings me immediate pleasure—whatever seems good at the moment.” It looks to someone other than God for guidance and is based on preferences rather than moral convictions.
What Is The Effect Of Others On Our Character?
The effect of bad company is clear: it ruins good morals and good character (1 Cor. 15:33). The effect of walking with the wise is that we grow still wiser (Prov. 13:20). We are called to follow others as they follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We will all be influenced by others; the only question is how? —Positively or negatively? It is foolish to believe otherwise.
How Teachable Are We To Learn What God Desires For Us To Learn?
God has many important and valuable lessons that He desires to teach us. The sooner we learn these lessons, the easier they will be to learn. The longer it takes to learn these lessons, the more difficult they will be to learn.
- The wise person is willing to learn the easy way—from God’s Word and the mistakes of others.
- The carnal person insists on learning the hard way—through his/her own personal mistakes.
- The foolish person, blinded by pride refuses to accept the truth and never does learn.
When will we ever learn the valuable lessons that God desires to teach us? The sooner the better!