Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)
Modern English dictionaries define the word “conversation” along the lines of spoken communication, but as it is used in the King James Bible (20 references) the word refers to our conduct, and not just to our words. Our conversation has to do with our whole manner of life; how we behave ourselves on a consistent basis (not just on Sunday). It is what others see in us, not just what they hear from us. The Bible defines its own terms as we study its words in context and compare scripture with scripture. Therefore, it is a great hindrance in Bible study to rely on the definitions of men in an attempt to understand the words of God. There is no need to update the Bible and change the words. Just study the Bible and believe the words!
Anybody that faithfully attends a Bible-believing church should be able to talk about the Christian faith. But does our daily walk back up our talk? We should talk about the gospel of Christ, but we must also have a conversation that testifies to it’s power (Phil. 1:27). Real Christianity is much more than a profession, it is a way of life. It is not just about going to heaven when we die. Getting saved should change how we live in this present world (Titus 2:11-15). There should be a difference between the conversation of a lost man and that of a saved man (Eph. 4:17-24). We are not saved by works, but in salvation we are “created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works” (Eph. 2:8-10).
Under the law God required man to to change his conversation (by faith) in order to see His salvation (Ps. 50:22-23). How different under grace! We do not change our conversation to get saved, but if we are saved our conversation should change (Eph. 2:1-10). By the way, a self-righteous religious conversation is just as worthless as an immoral one (Gal. 1:13; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
If we walk in the Spirit, our conversation will be:
I. Heavenly (Phil. 3:17-21)
The “earthly things” are actually physical religious ordinances according to the context (vs.1-3). How can our conversation be in heaven while we are living on earth? We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-4). We are physically absent from the Lord, which is why we must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We ought to be looking everyday for our Savior to catch us home to heaven! Having the blessed hope in your heart will produce a heavenly conversation. If you love this present world, you will not love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8-10).
II. Holy (1 Pet. 1:14-16; 2 Pet. 3:11)
I understand that Peter was not writing to the Body of Christ, but what he says in these verses also applies to us. To be holy is to be pure and clean; set apart unto God. The apostle Paul said that we have been called unto holiness (1 Thess. 4:1-8; 5:23-24). We are positionally sanctified in Christ the moment of salvation (1 Cor 6:11), but we also need to live that out in our daily walk (2 Cor. 7:1).
III. Honest (1 Pet. 2:11-12)
The apostle Paul said that we are to “provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17), and that we are to “walk honestly toward them that are without” (1 Thess. 4:12). The world can easily spot a hypocrite! That is no excuse for them to reject the Lord, but we should not want to hinder the cause of Christ. Failing is not hypocrisy. We all fail. I don’t think people expect Christians to be sinlessly perfect. Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not. It is important that we be sincere in our Christian walk (2 Cor. 1:12).