CHARACTER AND CONDUCT
There is no necessity to deal with the close relation existing between CHARACTER and CONDUCT, except to declare the fact as necessary to an understanding of the line of the present article. It must, however, be kept in mind that they are necessarily and indissolubly connected. Conduct is always an expression of character, and character therefore is the cause of conduct. Character is the condition of being, while conduct is the expression thereof in doing. In both these, Christ was the Revelation of God, and in proportion as man is Christ like, he is therefore like God. Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, referring to the coming of Messiah, declared that the purpose of His coming was that man should serve God "in holiness and righteousness." (Luke 1:75) These words cover the whole fact of life as to its general trend, holiness referring to character, and righteousness to conduct. It is at once seen that these words belong primarily to God, the first declaring the ultimate truth concerning His character and the latter that concerning His conduct. He is holy, and therefore acts righteously. Both these facts are however the result of another and profounder one, that namely, of the love which is of the very essence of His Being. Holiness of character is the result of the nature of love, and so also is righteousness of conduct. In Christ these facts concerning God have been revealed, and always in this setting and proportion. The holiness of the character of Christ was the inevitable necessity of His Love. His righteousness of conduct was the immediate outworking of His holiness of character which resulted from Love. By the impartation of His life to man, and its realization progressively man is subdued by Love, and obedience to this new nature issues in holiness of character, and righteousness of conduct.
The finality of all this is that man's essential nature being transformed into perfect conformity to that of God, his holiness of character will be forever established, and he will then be perfectly prepared for all that exercise of life, which expresses itself in righteousness of conduct, which is always that of cooperation with God. Here the point of difficulty is reached, because it is impossible to know today along what line the activities of God will be continued, in the ages lying ahead. There are certain principles however which may contribute at least to a lofty conception of what the activity of redeemed man will be. The question of character need not therefore be discussed because conduct is its outward expression. It may therefore be affirmed that as the activity of God is constructive, and never destructive, man in union with Him will cooperate in the expression of the Infinite Energy, along the pathway of perpetual perennial manifestations of that essential Love, which is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore.
For today man's likeness to God, in likeness to Christ, is manifest in his approximation to the character of holiness, and his cooperation in the work of redemption. Said Jesus, "My Father works even until now, and I work." (John 5:17) The work of God and the work of Christ are identical, and the proportion in which man is already like God, is manifest by his cooperation with Him in the inspiring and serious enterprises of seeking and saving the lost. Man is only equal to this cooperation upon the basis of likeness to God in character, and he is only holy in proportion as he is indwelt and impulsed by love.