Belief, Mindset & Behavior
Orthodoxy & Orthopraxy
Belief determines mindset—mindset determines behavior.
That simple statement has far-reaching ramifications that we seldom comprehend. We often miss the connection between our belief system and how we conduct our lives.
Orthodoxy is right belief—orthopraxy is right behavior. Orthodoxy is meaningless drivel if it is not backed up by action—the flipside is that orthopraxy requires God-centered motivation.
Believers in Jesus Christ—known as the church—should always strive to be doctrinally sound because orthodoxy is crucial. However, if we are flippant or haphazard in how what we believe plays out in our lives, then we’ve missed the point.
Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is what the religious establishment in the time of Jesus maintained—cold facts sanctimoniously delivered by hearts that remained untouched by measures of grace and mercy.
Jesus had many run-ins with these passionate but misguided guardians of religion. Near the end of his life, he had a confrontation with them that echoes across the ages: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
The law, as laid out by Moses, was intended to be a framework of belief which would shape mindset and effect behavior. Once the law was enacted, it didn’t take long for human nature to reconstruct the intent into burdens. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene the law had become a barrier of rules and regulations that isolated individuals from God.
Jesus realigned perspective. His ministry made it clear that right belief is essential, but its purpose is to result in right behavior. He never used these words, but most certainly, his example proclaimed that orthodoxy without orthopraxy is useless.
Jesus—God Incarnate—embodied compassion and mercy, giving us a pattern to follow, but as history proves again and again, we have thick skulls and stubborn streaks. We humans have an endless capacity to distort and pervert spiritual truth. Not long after Jesus ascended to heaven, there were those who dismissed grace to teach bondage.
Paul of Tarsus, a theologian and tentmaker, constantly came into conflict with that contingent. He went eyeball to eyeball with them, never flinching or backing down. Read afresh his admonishment to the Galatians.
Galatians 1:6-10 - NIV
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Many philosophies and religious systems masquerade as truth, but we need to be careful. We should beware any proposition that encourages us to place our faith in anything or anyone except Christ.
If we succumb to that fallacy our faith will bring harm instead of healing. Tragically some people have used Christ’s name and are using Christ’s name to peddle their counterfeit forms of faith to people, poisoning those who genuinely seek to experience God.
There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the machinations of the human heart. As false teachers are present nowadays, so they were in the first-century.
In Galatia, some were preaching that faith in Christ was not enough—their contention was that Gentile believers had to jump through all the hoops of Jewish law and customs, especially circumcision.
This group was referred to as Judaizers. Paul adamantly opposed them. He wasn’t willing to concede an inch. He called them agitators, and said that if they were truly convinced that circumcision was a necessity, he wished they’d go all the way and castrate themselves.
Paul didn’t mince words or sugarcoat his views. And evidently he had no inclination to ever placate legalists who twisted the truth about Christ—they claimed to follow Christ but boisterously denied that his atoning work on the cross was sufficient for salvation.
The Judaizers had the Galatian believers all bound up in wrong belief which resulted in a wrong mindset which produced wrong behavior. The works-based theology was screwing people up and pushing them away from the unmerited favor and promise of the cross.
That’s exactly what crackpot theology does—wrong belief always results in a wrong mindset, which always produces wrong behavior. Crackpot theology is any teaching that takes away from the great good news of the gospel or adds conditions to it.
Freedom & Responsibility
The gospel is an offense to custom, tradition, and human-centric logic. It starts with the premise that we humans are sinners who desperately need a Savior, which goes against the humanistic assertion that people are basically good. It also chisels away at pride and our inflated sense of self-sufficiency.
Salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned, which really irritates our independent streak. The gospel is grace, it’s all about God loving humanity—loving all creation—loving individuals with an unconditional love.
The gospel is defined in God’s Word with astounding simplicity: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
The source of grace is God—life is obtained through death. We trust in the God who loves us and died for us so that we might live for him.
When we embrace the gospel we participate in spiritual freedom. As with all forms of freedom—social, political, economic—with freedom comes responsibility. Freedom and responsibility cannot be disconnected.
As recipients of the freedom that comes from God’s grace, we have some responsibility—living up to our responsibility is not optional. We are to be relentless grace-givers. Fulfilling that role is summed up by the word ambassador, which has serious principles to be practically applied.
Consider Paul’s words to believers at Corinth anew: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Ambassadors actively work on behalf of their country—as though God were making his appeal through us. Our citizenship is in heaven—we are ambassadors of the king of glory.
We are responsible to use the time, talents, and treasures God has given us to follow his lead and commands, living out the overwhelming reality that the gospel is for everyone.
If anyone preaches something different—whether they do so in word or deed, then they are spewing crackpot theology, and we can never ignore or condone it. Just like Paul, we should have a zero-tolerance policy for crackpot theology.
Belief determines mindset—mindset determines behavior. By virtue of being practitioners of God’s grace, we must be willing to do whatever is necessary to be faithful ambassadors.
If our mindset is entrenched in grace, then we will continually behave as grace-givers—if that occurs, then in our corner of this fallen world, it will be as though God were making his appeal through us.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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