Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 27, 1966
NUMBER 25, PAGE 5b-6a

The Invisible Difference

Floyd D. Chappelear

One is made to wonder what some people think it is that sets a Christian apart from his non-Christian contemporaries. If one were to judge from appearances only, the unmistakable conclusion would be that, visibly anyway, there is absolutely no difference at all. It is almost the same as saying the difference is to be wholly invisible. This kind of smacks of the Baptist doctrine relative to the inner man and the outer man. The inner man is changed but the outward (visible) man remains the same. Unfortunately, for some, this is just not the case at all. If the inner man is truly changed, and changed he must be, the outward man will be replete with evidences of that changed spirit.

But, friend, take a good look at yourself and those around you who have named the' name of Christ and have been baptized into our Lord. Can you see a discernible difference between yourself, your fellow Christian, and the average morally upright but non-converted sinner? Can it be said that although no difference is evident all is well even so? The Lord's people are to be a "peculiar people" (Titus 2:14), and as such we are to be different than the servants of sin round about us. Let us notice some areas in which a marked contrast should be easily seen.

In Vengeance Seeking

The Lord tells us: "Be ye imitators of God" (Eph. 5:2). Should not this emulating of the Lord be especially evident when one is reviled? Remember that the Lord, though reviled, "reviled not again" (1 Pet. 2: 23). Further in the same letter we read, "Not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling: but contrariwise blessing." (1 Pet. 3:9) Yet, we see daily examples of children of God trying to "even the score" with those who have mistreated them. If it is our purpose in life to keep a score card of evil against those with whom we find ourselves at variance, can we truly say we are any different than the sinner with whom we continue to quarrel? One might say, "Oh, but the inner man is loving him to death, it is the outer man who is carrying on the feud." That friend, is Baptist doctrine, not Bible doctrine.

The Cut Of Our Hair

When we are in competition with the world as to the way we cut our hair can we honestly say that there is a distinction between a child of God and a servant of Satan? It is appalling how "style conscious" some of us have become. Not too long ago a preacher's wife, in conversation with my wife, ridiculed the idea of long hair as being "Out of style". Friend, the Lord says, (1 Cor. 11:15) "But if a woman lave LONG hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. "Whether one believes in the necessity for an artificial covering or not in no way lessens the obligation of women to have "long" hair. Those little "Page Boy" haircuts may look cute; but only on page boys. We should not alter the law of God just to remain stylish in a world full of unGodly creatures.

The Clothes We Wear

Here again a Christian's outward appearance should be conspicuously different. It is not being suggested that we appear weird, as do some persons of unusual religious sects, but it is being suggested that our choice of clothing should reflect an inner spirituality. If the inner man is clothed with the "incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit" (1 Pet. 3:4), it would be unreasonable to assume that the outward man should be clothed with the "corruptible apparel of a sin-sick society." In other words, a Christian should not desire to wear the lascivious clothing of this present generation. Our clothing could well be an outward manifestation of that inner meekness enjoined by the Apostle Paul (Eph. 4:2). A scantily clad person at the beach, or a near nude person on the street is hardly the epitome of that which a Christian is to be. It might be well said that the outward appearance serves as a guide to the mystery of what manner of man the inner man really is.

Various And Sundry Personal Habits

Where do we begin in this paragraph? Or, better yet, where do we end? Obviously, this category could be an endless listing of our every practice. We will, however, try to notice only a few, and all of them being associated with what goes into our mouths.

How much personal restraint (self-control) do we exercise? All will agree that such is charged to our account many times in the word of God, (See: 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 6:19; Matt. 16:24; Gal. 5:23) but how many of us actually apply this teaching to our own lives? Why do persons smoke? drink coffee? or Coca Cola? or simply eat too much? Many times it is because we just do not have the will power not to imbibe in these things. Many times some Christians will condemn others for smoking cigarettes while at the same time having a blue fit because they have not yet had their morning cup of coffee! The same can be said of that soda pop that appears to rule the lives of some others of us. We can readily apply Bible teaching to others, but fail miserably to so apply it to ourselves.

In Conclusion

Let us "try ourselves, whether we are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). Let us take a really good look at ourselves and see if we can see any discernible difference between ourselves and the average churchgoing denominational person.

One is almost made to think that the only difference between a Christian and a worshipping non-Christian is that the one has been scripturally baptized and the other one has not been so baptized. Friend, there should be a far more distinct difference than the one just named. Think on these things.