Do Choices Make the Man?

by Rob Tims

“The clothes make the man.”

“You are what you eat.”

“When in Rome, do what the Romans do.”

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

Our world is awash with tweets and clichés that connect identity to behavior.

What we choose to do shows who we are, not merely in the perception of others, but in reality before God.

So If one is in Christ and connected to others who follow Him, what kinds of choices should they make and why?

The answer is “holy choices.”

Not out of legalism or some sort of hollow moralism, but by preaching the gospel to ourselves day in and day out—that our sin is great, but God’s grace is better.

You see, the inevitable result of making choices without the gospel is sin, as Paul points out in Ephesians 4:17-19:

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

But the inevitable result of making choices in the gospel is something quite different (Ephesians 4:20-24):

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

We are more than the product of our choices (after all, we didn’t choose to exist), but our choices do reflect and impact who we are. When it comes to making choices as gospel-centered people, Paul reminds us that Christ is our teacher, Christ is the teaching, and Christ is the context in which we receive the teaching from the teacher. He is the source of all our holy choices which contribute to our reflecting His holiness.

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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