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Mr. Abshire put scripture to my answer. I'll just give my answer this way: Another reason people say "practice what you preach". Those who say Christians don't practice what they preach are criticizing Christians for something that Christians don't preach. The Bible is clear that we are steeped in sin and it is Christ who reconciles us to God. Christ died to cure the world of its moralizing. The Gospel message is that Jesus paid for our sin, which is universal and effects us all. That is what we should be preaching. The phrase is usually used as a straw-man argument which is fallacious. Practicing what we preach, is not the message of the Gospel; nor is haranguing against behaviors or trying to 'live' a good life. Both are pointless and foster pride (Oh, another sin), so "practice..." should not be used to argue against the gospel. Sin is not so much bad behaviors as these behaviors confirm the complete depravity of man. Hence our need for Christ's work on the cross. We are not saved by works, we are saved by faith. Our works are something that come as a result of a life that is being redeemed by Christ. Also, C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity" describes a Christian's life as on-going redemption. We never know at what point in the process anyone is in their own journey. Christians do make a mistake by moralizing though. We should not rail against a society that hates God by calling it sinful. Of course it is! It can not be otherwise and altering some behavior won't change it. We are all sinful, Christians have right standing. That is the difference. We should appeal to the conscience of every man and preach Christ's death and resurrection on the cross. How it brings us to communion with God. Let the gospel message change behavior. We should answer the question by correcting the misunderstanding of the Gospel message. Not by trying to live a "perfect" life. That is where the accusation comes from. Of course no-one practices what they preach Christian or non. Hypocrisy is a uniquely and decidedly human practice.
I feel a lot of Christians fail to understand that although through the born again experience God gives us a new nature it doesn't replace or do away with the old sinful nature. The Apostle Paul writes concerning this in Romans 7:14-20 " For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." Again in Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Our ability to lead a "Christian" life pleasing to God is not because of self righteous effort but acknowledgment of our inability. Galatians 3:1-3 "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Philippians 2:12-13 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
A prophet writes: They that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. For the true believer it may appear that we have stumbled or fallen short of the mark but that is why and what Jesus came for. Christians are not perfect just forgiven. Take any of the old or new testament characters except for Jesus and they all sinned, (Job is debated). It is the true believer that is quick to repent. Faithful and steadfast in his commitment annd unwavering towards Christ. Since there is no condemnation in Christ we can't let the nay sayers, those who do not know or are trying to walk this walk dictate what is right or wrong. The Holy Spirit has written his commandments on our heart so that we will not sin against God or man. This is a faith walk, so brethren be JESUS-strong. Study to show thyself a workman who need not be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. There is no testimony without a test. We are to pray and restore those who have fallen with fear and faith. Only God can judge me. Verily, verily I say unto you be glad that we are judge for the things we do for the Lord and not for the things we do not.
My answer is a short one. First let me say that I do not disagree with any of the previous answers. They are all good. But, I think the real reason people ask this question is that many Christians are quicker to point out the sin in the world than to show their Love for the world. It has been said "They to not care how much you know until they know how much you care." I believe that our biggest failure as Christians is not showing the world through Love why we feel it is necessary to "preach". Not because we feel we are better than them but because we love them enough to care what happens to them. Katie Couric once asked former President Jimmy Carter "Why do you Christians feel like you have to push your beliefs on others?" What a missed opportunity he had. My favorite analogy to that question is "If I knew a thief was going to break into your house and steal from you and kill anyone there, would you want me to tell you?" As Christians, we believe that Satan is coming to kill, steal and destroy and there is only one protection against that happening. Jesus! That is the message we need to get out. Not that we don't like you or your lifestyle. Not even that you are Sinning. It is the Holy Spirit that can convict them of those things. But not until they are exposed to Him. Someone once said "You can't clean them until you catch them!" What bait are we using? I am afraid that too often it is "We don't like you, you need to change." And they are not biting. Maybe we should change to "We love you. We care about you. We are willing to die for you." Isn't that the Way Jesus caught us. The Old Testament and the law told Israel again and again that they needed to repent. God knew all along that they would fail. But he had a better Way planned all along. Jesus, Way. The Way! Does the world need to change? Of course. Is there rampant sin in the world? Of course. How are we gonna change that? First, start with us. If the world likes us a little better, maybe those asking the above question will be quicker to forgive our slip ups than to condemn us. Again, how? Did Jesus condemn the world? John 3:16-17. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. He did not send his Son to condemn the world but that through Him it might be saved!" How about the harlot caught in Adultery? Jesus answer: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Let us let the world see us be more like Jesus. So why does the world ask "Why don't Christians do a better job of practicing what we preach?" Because we need to do a better job of both practicing and preaching. Well, at least I thought it was going to be a short answer. (:
I'm just curious after having read this online: "Are you avoiding accepting Christ as your personal Savior because you think there are too many hypocrites in the church? Why let the hypocrites have any bearing on your eternal soul? The church does not save you, nor do those who attend it. Only Jesus does! Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."
Because all men are sinners whether they have believed on Jesus for salvation or not. First John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the TRUTH is not in us. First John 1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we call God a liar. All men sin and come short of the glory of God. God is perfect, and we are imperfect. All our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags compared to Gods Holy Standard. But, believers have His perfect righteousness imputed to us when we first believed, and He will no more impute sin to our account. Romans 4:6-8 AMAZING GRACE, JESUS PAID IT ALL AND WE PAID 0. IT IS FREE
The question is,"Why do so many Christians fail..." The answer lies in James 1:22, "But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." This is the case with those who do not hear the word, as they ought. We should not be just hearing the word, we should be looking into it for, counsel and direction. When we study it this way, it turns to our spiritual life. The life that causes us to "reign in life" as "new creatures". This is what Paul taught in Romans 5:17 and 2 Corinthians 5:17. Faith has action.
I think we abbreviate the gospel message today, with so much focus on the grace of God that is available for the forgiveness of our sins, through faith in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. In doing so we fail to proclaim the good news of the grace of God that is available to live a brand new God pleasing life when we surrender (trust & obey) to Jesus Christ as the LORD of our lives. Too often people come to faith in Christ and experience peace with God and then try to live a Christian life in their own strength and according to their own will. This is a recipe for stumbling and falling into sin again and again which leads unbelievers to mock us as hypocrites. The motivation for living an undivided (no hypocrisy) life is the FEAR of God. That is, having a deep reverential awe and respect for the fact that God saved us and we can do nothing on our own to live a life that pleases him, but only as we surrender ourselves to his leading so that we simply trust and obey. Moses gave us a glimpse into the importance of living a God pleasing life with these words in Deut 10:10-13 "And now, Israel, [US] what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" Jesus reiterated the same thing in Luke 12:1-5 "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you who you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, i tell you, fear him." [What Jesus is saying is that the world will see our secret sins and label us as hypocrites. It is only our fear of God that will lead us to surrender to his grace, to trust and obey.] So how do we live an undivided (no hypocrisy) life. I believe Jesus gave us the pathway to becoming mature and complete disciples in Matt 5:3-6: Blessed are the poor in spirit We need to start each day recognising and understanding that we can do nothing for the kingdom of God unless we stay connected to Jesus as the branch is connected to the vine. We stay connected through 1) bible reading, studying, meditating, memorising), 2) intimate conversations with God through prayer, 3) giving praise to God for who he is and thanksgiving for what he has done, 4) intimate personal fellowship with other believers, 5) serving God's call on our lives. Blessed are those who mourn We need to start each day recognising and understanding that, 1) the desires of my flesh, 2) the attractions of this world, and 3) the lies and deceptions of Satan, will try to cause us to stumble and fall. We need to wear the Armour of God all day long. When we sin we need to immediately confess it and receive God's cleansing so the devil cannot gain a foothold in our lives. Blessed are the meek We need to start each day recognising and understanding that Jesus is training and equipping us to develop the character of God in us and to complete the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. We need to be willing students and surrender to his teaching, completing the practice sessions he gives us by walking in step with his Holy Spirit. Blessed are Those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness We need to start each day by recognising and understanding that we cannot live a God pleasing life unless we are filled with his Holy Spirit. When we seek first the kingdom of God he is pleased to give us his Spirit. When we apply ourselves to being disciples we will hunger and thirst for righteousness.
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