Out of Character?

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

It isn’t uncommon to hear someone defend another person’s actions with the comment that they “acted out of character,” meaning that it really wasn’t them who did it but maybe some external force. Is that possible? The Christianised version of this is “the devil made me do it.” Can a person act in a way contrary to their nature? Can the devil make us do something we do not want to do or that is not part of our nature to do?

The short answer to both is, “No!” It is an axiomatic principle in the creation that all living animals and plants act according to their nature. The same is true of mankind and of God Himself. God always acts in accordance with His Divine Nature and He has created mankind in His likeness.

When someone claims that another has acted out of character what they mean is that it isn’t the usual behavioural expression of that person.

We may teach a parrot to say words but it is still a parrot. Parrots, along with some other creatures, are imitators by nature but they cannot change their nature. A parrot cannot acquire language even though it may say words.

Children are excellent imitators but in the process of learning to say words they develop language which is part of their nature and is developed through practice.

Actions and words reveal what we are and that is the meaning of these words of Jesus. If you want to know what is really in your heart, listen to the words that come out especially when you are under stress; scrutinise what you do when under stress. This will reveal your heart to you.

It is possible to counterfeit the spiritual life publicly but the stresses of life are sent by God to reveal to ourselves what we really are. He does not do this to put us down or condemn us but that we might agree with Him concerning our sinfulness and let Him change us from within.

The Divine Nature was miraculously created in us at the new birth but it needs development. The Bible is our informant so we can know what emanates from the sinful nature and what emanates from the new creation. The former is to be put to death and the latter developed.

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