1/2 Matthew 23:26

26 "You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Jesus used harsh words to the Pharisees to open their eyes. He didn't stop at calling them spiritually blind, but He went on to tell them what could help them see. While focusing on the external rules, they were neglecting their hearts. Our actions flow from our hearts.

This truth does not only apply to Jews trying to live out the laws of Moses, but it is essential for Christian behavior. The fruits of the Spirit must flow from the heart or our actions become hypocritical duty. We tend to see the Christian life as witnessing, Bible study, prayer, church attendance, and other outward actions. However, real Christian life is an increasingly transformed heart from which flows true Christian actions. We must not forsake godly habits, but we must always endeavor to see that the goal of those habits is to yield our hearts fully to Jesus.

Holiness begins within and continues to be an inward work called "the process of sanctification." While we are holy in the eyes of God because of Jesus' payment for our sins, we are undergoing an inner transformation that increasingly results in outward actions that the Spirit of God directs with our wholehearted participation. It is a growth process.

Consider: It is important that we don't focus on the unbeliever's behavior when we share Christ, but rather on the need of his or her heart. As they grow in their knowledge of the Word, they will be convicted of their behavior. Their hearts will change, which changes behavior. Be gentle and patient with new Christians. Give the Holy Spirit time to work. It is better for them to hear His conviction than yours. The Spirit's conviction goes to the heart, whereas man's condemnation often just goes to the mind.