Belief & Behavior: What Difference Does It Make? (Part 1)

Read: Acts 17:22-31

Over the course of the next several weeks I want to invite you to reflect with me on a new series called "Believe & Behave" which will explore the relationship between our belief and behavior. It seems almost intuitive that our beliefs influence our behavior in many different ways, doesn't it? For instance, if you believe you will get a paycheck at the end of the week for performing certain tasks, you will behave by going to work tomorrow morning. And if you believe that wet pavement is a cause for auto accidents, you will behave by driving slower in rainy weather.

If belief influences behavior, then what good is belief about God? What good is listening to biblical sermons and Bible-based thoughts about God? What good is it to participate in a weekly Bible study? 

All of these things impact your life more than you might initially have thought. Unfortunately, many people (even Christians) assume things about God that aren’t true. Then when difficulties enter their lives, they wonder where God has gone. They wonder if He really cares.

It is critical that we spend time accurately thinking about God as we care for our individual souls.

Let’s start with a biblical “belief,' a doctrine, that is very seldom discussed. It is the doctrine of the “aseity of God.”  (That’s not a misspelling! It’s a real word!)

God’s “aseity” refers to His self-sufficiency - His absolute independence! It is the very thing the Apostle Paul talked about in today’s text, Acts 17:22-24. Notice in verses 24 & 25 that Paul says the Living God “made the world and everything in it,” yet “neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything.”  

Why did Paul need to say this? According to Acts 17:16 the Apostle came to Athens and was shocked at the sight of widespread idolatry. Verse 18 refers to Epicurean philosophers who started to argue with Paul. We don’t hear much about Epicurean ideas these days, except perhaps in a freshman philosophy class. Epicureanism taught that God or “the gods” had vacated earthly interaction with human beings and resided in some other end of the universe. They believed that God or “gods” existed, but they were not involved with human beings. As a result, the people in Athens embraced a lot of religious talk and even made up ideas about their “self-defined gods.”

Here is where the “self-sufficiency of God” is so critical. On one hand God is totally independent. But on the other hand, this great and glorious God that Paul proclaimed was very much involved with people.  In fact,

God is totally independent from human beings, but human beings are totally dependent on God! 

“Why are we dependent on God?”  

Here is where belief will impact our behavior and emotions. Look at what our Biblical text affirms.

  • STEWARDSHIP - Read verse 25. God created life, so we should see ourselves as stewards of creation. We are to care for His world.
  • PROCLAMATION - Read verse 26. God ordains the trajectory of our lives and our ultimate residences, so we should live in those places proclaiming Him.  (Cf. 1 Peter 2:9)
  • KNOWLEDGE - Read verses 28-29. God is totally different from human beings, so we should seek to know Him and worship Him properly. His Word becomes the primary source of our most basic forms of knowledge.  
  • OBEDIENCE - Read verses 30-31.  God is holy, just, and gracious, so we should repent and obey Him in all that we do.

How does this relate to our everyday life and behavior?

Here's an example of belief and behavior in action between a grandma and her granddaughter.

A little girl spends the day with her grandmother. The grandmother has committed to baking a cake for a neighbor’s birthday celebration. The granddaughter pulls a chair up to the counter and asks her grandmother if she can help. Grandma agrees, but quite frankly the little girl’s help is not really needed. The grandmother is the one who provides all the ingredients and the knowledge of baking. At the end of the project a task is complete, a birthday cake is ready to be served. But even better, a little girl feels valued and loved by being in her Grandmother’s presence.

And so it is with the “self-sufficiency of God.”

God is totally independent from us, but we are totally dependent on Him! We should delight to be in His presence, even though He is not dependent on us for anything! 

When you think about “God’s aseity,” it will make a difference in how you eventually live.

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