In a previous post it was pointed out that that the original man, Adam, was created in the image of God with the essential abilities and qualities of character (to be), comprehension (to know), competence (to do), and connection (to bond). He was the epitome of a real man. But then, Adam fell by sin into sin and those abilities and qualities become distorted. This man of truly distinguished character became one of extinguished character.
The good news is that God became Man in Jesus Christ. He is the new Adam. He is the ultimate of distinguished manhood (and personhood) whose perfect abilities and qualities will never be extinguished. Those who trust and believe in him as the God-Man who came to redeem us by his perfect life, his death on the cross, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven (1 Cor. 15:3-8) are saved from the penalty and the effects of sin. The new Real Man, Jesus, not only redeems those who believe in him but also repairs them.
This gives us hope because our extinguished character is becoming distinguished. We are being refashioned into the image of God (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10). Like Eustace Scrubb in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, who, on his own, attempts and fails to remove the scales of his dragon body, we cannot change back to the pure person of sinless Adam. Like Eustace needed Aslan, we need Jesus to put his new life into us (Rom. 6) and to put us into his life (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 1:3-10). However, though given a new identity and a new life we still must continue to work to remove the residual parts of our old, dead self while putting on Christ-likeness (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:8-9). Though this is done by Christ’s life-creating power (Eph. 1:19-20) through his Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12) and Spirit, we are still called to discipline our lives to become more God-like (1 Tim. 4:7; 2 Pet. 1:3-11).
What kind of character is this into which we are being remade? Obviously, it is the distinguished character of Jesus. The pattern in the Bible is that true leaders in God’s kingdom are to be the excellent examples of godly character. To be a leader in the Church means that the man holds and displays godly virtues (see 1 Tim. 3, Titus 1). These men should exemplify the new Man, Jesus, and in turn press other men of Christian faith to “man up” and take on real manliness. In turn Christian men (single, married, fathers, and grandfathers) are to live as models of the Real Man for all believers and before a watching world.
With that, let’s first look at the extinguishing qualities and then we will check out the distinguishing characteristics of godliness.
What do the traits of the extinguished character look like?
Taken from such passages as Isaiah 2:1ff; Joel 2:28-30; Matthew 15:19; Acts 2:19-23; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:5,8,9; 1 Timothy 3:1-12; 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-4, the following list describes the character and vices of a carnal, ungodly person:
- Lover of self; self-centered; self-seeking.
- Covetous, greedy; lusting after things that don’t belong to him
- Braggarts; boastful
- Not a true worshipper; blasphemous
- Disobedient to parents; rebellious
- Lacks gratitude
- Sensual, living to satisfy his own desires.
- Perverted; immoral
- Little to no self-control
- Untrustworthy; breaks promises
- Betrays others; not loyal.
- Uncontrolled temper; hot-tempered.
- Lover of pleasure and self-gratification rather than lover of God
- Deceitful; the truth is hard to take or give.
- Outwardly religious, but hypocritical. Powerless to live a godly life
- Allows self to be deceived by doctrines of demons.
- Possesses a seared conscience (more and more insensitive to the Lord, His Word, virtue, etc.)
- Self-destructive, careless.
- Takes for consumption and personal satisfaction.
- Curses; doesn’t bless.
- Hateful; not truly loving.
- Unforgiving; vengeful.
We could also add the opposite features for what it required to be a deacon or elder in Christ’s Church, which would include:
- Has a bad reputation
- Unrestrained control
- Slave to selfish anger
- Given to much wine (or controlled by and abuses drugs or alcohol)
- Lacks self-control; is undisciplined
- Self-willed and arrogant
- Irreverent at heart
What are the features of a distinguished character?
Someone with distinguished character is a person of “engraved distinctive quality” who remains steadfast in moral excellence. One who lives a praiseworthy life. A person of special quality in whom others willingly place their trust. A person with a controlled mind, will, emotions, attitudes, etc. The office of a deacon, elder or minister requires high standards of integrity because it is the office of a holy and perfect King.
1. The man is above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6).
His wife, children, other family, neighbors, work mates, boss, and fellow members at church can honestly give a good report about his character.
2. He has restrained control (a balanced discipline) in his life (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:6, 8)
3. He is a true gentle man (approachable, kind, gracious, firm yet diplomatic) (Matt. 11:29; Acts 24:4; 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 2:7; 2 Tim. 2:23-25; Jas. 3:17).
4. He is not pugnacious or prone to violence (Prov. 3:30; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; 25:8; 26:17; Phil. 2:3; 1 Tim. 3:3;Tit.1:7).
5. He is not quarrelsome (Eccles. 10:4; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; 1 Tim. 3:2, 3; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Tit. 3:9; Jas. 3:17).
6. He is not greedy (Acts 20:33; 1 Tim. 3:3; 6:5-10; 2 Tim. 3:6-7; Tit. 1:7).
7. He is not given easily to selfish anger (Prov. 16:32; Tit. 1:7).
8. He is not overly indulgent or a drunk (1 Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:7).
The principle is that he has disciplined control over bodily appetites (Gen. 19; Prov. 20:1; 23; Eccles. 10:17; Isa. 5:11; 28:1; Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13; Eph. 5:18).
9. He is self-controlled (Matt. 26:41; Acts 24:25; Rom. 6:12; 1 Cor. 10:12; Eph. 5:4; Tit. 1:8; Jas. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7;5:8).
10. He is truly humble and not self-willed (Luke 14:10; Rom. 12:3, 10, 16; Phil 2:3; Ti. 1:7; Jas. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:5).
11. The man is holy (biblically devout and pious) (Lev. 11:45; Luke 1:74, 75; 2 Cor. 7:1; Tit. 1:8; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Pet. 3:11).
Worship is a priority for him, which is shown by his commitment to personal, family, and corporate worship.
12. His persona and life demonstrate biblical hospitality. He has a love for people and a care for strangers; and it shows (Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:10; Ti. 1:9; Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:9).
13. He is just (upright and impartial in dealing with people) (Deut. 16:20; Ps. 82:3; Prov. 21:3; Isa. 56:1; Rom. 13:7; Col. 4:1; Tit. 1:8).
14. The man is a lover of good. He has a love of virtue, people and good things (Heb. 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; 1 Thess. 5:21; Tit. 1:8; Rev. 3:3).
15. He is prudent and wise (skilled at bringing God’s thoughts to bear on matters of life) (Proverbs; 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8).
16. He is respectable (well-ordered, well-arranged, decorous in behavior and speech; good manners) (1 Tim. 3:2).
17. If he is married he is a godly leader of his wife and family (1 Tim. 3:4-5; Tit. 1:6).
a. He loves his wife as he loves himself (Eph. 5:28ff).
b. He loves his wife as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25ff).
c. He lives with his wife in an understanding way (1 Pet. 3:7).
d. He is the loving and godly pastor of his family – teaching, admonishing, and correcting them (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
How do I become more like the Real Man, Jesus?
Here are a few ideas for you:
- To others, make a verbal commitment to take off those ungodly characteristics and put on Christ-likeness.
- Write down your commitment and then write out an action plan for change and growth.
- Do a self-assessment of godly qualities (one tool is to use my A Self-Examination in Godliness) to see where God has strengthened the good virtues in you and what obvious areas you need growth.
- Practice again and again the character qualities already predominant in your life.
- Put off those extinguishable character traits and put on the opposite, godly virtues. (Note: it usually takes fourteen weeks to establish good habits of the heart).
- You already have the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper to help make this transformation from the extinguishable to the distinguishable. Yet, find and utilize other resources to help you (people, a Life Group, pastor, elders, books, DVDs, blogs, Bible studies, etc.)
- Create a healthy, positive climate and environment to help you change and grow.
- Recruit others to help you. Develop relationships with those who are strong in the character qualities in which you need to change or grow.
If you need help with any of this talk with your pastor, an elder, or if you wish contact me.
Here’s to becoming quite the character!
For further study:
Bridges, Jerry. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1983.
____________ The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1978.
Elliot, Elisabeth. The Mark of a Man. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981.
Getz, Gene. The Measure of a Man. Ventura, CA: Regal, 2004.
Hughes, R. Kent. Disciplines of a Godly Man. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991.
Morley, Patrick. The Man in the Mirror. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997.
Packer, J.I. Rediscovering Holiness. Servant Press, nd.
Ryle, J. C. Holiness. Banner of Truth, nd.