Logically, a person should live according to what they claim to believe. If a follower of a particular religion claims to believe in a particular doctrine, then his or her actions must be consistent with that doctrine, or the follower of that religion will most certainly be subject to being labeled a hypocrite. The credibility of the particular religion could also suffer. As John Calvin said, “Even the philosophers rage against and reject those who profess an art that ought to govern one’s life, but who twist that art hypocritically into empty chatter. How much more then should we Christians detest the foolish talk of those who give lip service to the gospel?”
Such Christians whose actions contradict what they claim to believe are called nominal Christians. They demonstrate their knowledge of Christ to be false and offensive when they don’t “put off their old self and be renewed in the spirit of their minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”(Ephesians 4:20-24). John Calvin said that “doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart…We have given priority to doctrine, which contains our religion, since it establishes our salvation. But in order for doctrine to be fruitful to us, it must overflow into our hearts, spread into our daily routines, and truly transform us within.”
Calvin tells us that “philosophers (atheists) expect to find the only correct and orderly treatment of moral philosophy. They, while doing their best to encourage us to be virtuous, have nothing to say except that we should live according to nature. Christians though believe that our nature is inherently sinful, and we must overcome worldly temptations and put on a new heart for Christ which motivates us to live according to His nature. How can we find the power to do this?
Calvin concludes by saying, “The gospel’s power ought to penetrate the innermost affections of the heart, sink down into the soul, and inspire the whole man a hundred times more than the lifeless teachings of the philosophers.” Only when we Christians live our belief do we prove to be good witnesses for the truth. Actions do indeed speak louder than words.