The fourth of five principles to keep in mind concerning the Beatitudes is that they clearly define the difference between the character of the Christian and the character of the non-Christian. This is what should concern us the most for it is an important concept to grasp. The goal of the Church, and individual Christians within the Church, is to become like Christ and unlike the world. The Christian is called to have Christlike character and be distinguishable from the world. The New Testament is clear on this point, thus the Church needs to be clear on this point. Since the world has been invited into the Church the distinction of the Christian has been lost. The Church has been so concerned about attracting the world to Christ it has forgotten this principle and is becoming like the world. We need to understand that Christlikeness attracts people, not Christians becoming like the world. As the first century Church did, the Church should stand out against the crowd. They were seen as those who have “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, Amplified). As Peter stated,
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12, NASB)
The Christian is on display to the world. As a visible representative of Christ’s likeness we are to stand in complete contrast to the dying world for which He died. Furthermore, at the root of the distinction between the Christian and the world is their view of their own abilities. The worldly man is confident in his own abilities while the Christian is not. The Christian is completely aware of his own abilities. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount sums this up beautifully,
“There is nothing, surely, which exhorts us more than this Sermon on the Mount to be what we are meant to be, and to live as we are meant to live; to be like Christ by being a complete contrast to everyone who does not belong to Christ. I trust, therefore, that any of us who may have been guilty of trying to be like the man of the world in any respect will not do so any longer and see what an utter contradiction it is of our faith.”
To conclude our fourth principle: Christlikeness calls men to follow Christ, not the world, as laid out in the Beatitudes.
Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in your life that are worldly and need to be turned over to Him to be removed from your life; and then replace those things with Christian character starting with becoming poor in spirit.