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Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:1-6
Building the Character of Faith (Part 1)
1. Perhaps we take for granted that we know what character is and how to build and maintain it.
2. Most people have some recognition of character.
3. Character of Christians rises above this: (Love enemies, Matt 5:44-45; Die for brother, 1 Jno 3:16; Die for Christ, Rev 2:10).
4. Jesus is our character model, 1 Pet 2:21 (3:16); Jno 13:15; Lk 6:40.
5. Character: “Inner strength”; that which defines the person. Character is not what one does, but what he is…It is who you are when no one is watching (cf. Joseph, Gen 39:7-10).
I. CHARACTER: THAT WHICH DEFINES THE PERSON, Prov 3:1-12.
A. Character is the Issue of the Heart, Prov 23:7; Matt 12:35.
1. Obedience to God is its defining quality, 3:1-2.
2. Kindness and truth, 3:3-4.
3. Faith in God, 3:5-7. (Trust, defer to Him, fear God, depart from evil)
4. Honor God, 3:8-10.
5. Accepts divine discipline, 3:11-12.
B. Results of Character: Life and peace, 3:2; favor, good understanding, 3:4; direction, 3:6; strength, 3:8; plenty, 3:10; God’s love, 3:12.
II. CONVERSION: CHANGING CHARACTER, Col 3:5-17.
A. A New Relation to Sin, 3:5-11; cf. Rom 6:1-7.
-Without this, our character will never please God.
B. A New Heart, 3:12-15.
1. Here are the “nuts and bolts” of character.
2. When the heart is unchanged, sin will surely return to it, Matt 12:43-45.
a. cf. Saul: Removed witchcraft from Israel, but not from his heart, 1 Sam 28:3-8.
b. Heart must agree with one’s new relation to sin (established in Christ).
C. A New Message is Accepted, Col 3:16. (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3)
D. A New Authority, Col 3:17.
-Guiding principle which shapes and molds our character.
E. New Relations with Others, Col 3:18-4:1.
III. THINGS THAT DEVELOP CHARACTER (Heb 12:4-11):
A. Difficult Circumstances.
1. Trials of faith, Gen 22:1-2.
a. The character of Abraham’s faith was put to the test: devotion, allegiance to God above his love for his son (son of promise).
b. God saw and rewarded his faith (character), 22:8-12 (15-19).
c. Tribulation…endurance…approved character, Rom 5:3-4; 1 Pet 1:6-7. God sees and rewards our faith, too.
2. Temptations, 1 Cor 10:12-13; 1 Pet 5:8-9. (When under fire)
a. Character can be strengthened and valuable lessons learned, Jas 4:6-8 (grace, subjection, resistance, self-control, etc.).
b. To be tempted is not sin – Character will help us resist its allurements.
B. Successful Circumstances, 2 Chrn 32:31.
1. Hezekiah’s character finally came through, although it was tested during a time of great blessing, 32:24-26.
2. How we deal with material advantages is an occasion for the character of faith to show through (humility, thanksgiving, trust in God, compassion, sharing, etc.), Deut 8:2-3, 11-18.
1. Character will cause us to:
a. Thank God for being with us and blessing us both in times of trouble and in times of prosperity.
b. Be patient and wait on the Lord (Jas 1:4).
c. Pray and rejoice always (Phil 4:4-7).
2. For the Christian, character is being conformed to the image of Christ.
3. Let us build the character of faith and please God.