Character (χαρακτήρ, impress, image), CHRISTIAN, is the force of a man's moral personality, as modified and developed by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Christianity does not seek to destroy the natural and moral qualities of man, but to elevate, strengthen, and sanctify them. But the individual man, under the Christian system, is taught "of the Holy Spirit" the way of life; and, under his own responsibility, the influence of the Holy Spirit must be voluntarily accepted as the inspiring and controlling principle of the qualities which belong to him by nature. If this be not the case, the man remains a "natural man," and his character is his natural character. But the beginning of a new moral course of life, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is regeneration, and in regeneration the true foundation of the Christian character is laid. But this regeneration, though it requires active faith on the part of man, is, nevertheless, the work of God, and therefore character is necessarily a divine work, "lest any man should boast" (Eph 2:9). Of course, all the practical forms of goodness, the cardinal virtues, so called (2Pe 1:5-7), and the special Christian virtue of charity, are elements of this Christian character. It manifests itself in the "fruits of the Spirit," which always, in turn, react upon the character, bringing it constantly into nearer identity with the "inner" or "spiritual" man (Eph 3:16; Eph 4:23). It fixes the moral worth of the individual, as well as his fitness for the kingdom of God, in which the entire character, the whole man, is peremptorily required (Mt 6:24; Mt 12:23). Christianity demands the whole heart; for "out of the heart are the issues of life," and the ruling disposition of a man's heart forms the essence of his character. With Paul, character is the man: the holy character is the " new man;" the corrupt character the "old man." But, though the Spirit works this Christian character in man, it leaves free play for the special gifts and endowments of the individual. Although "in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek," there is room in Christ's kingdom for diversities springing from temperament, race, or nationality. The apostles Peter, Paul, John, and Jude have been taken, by some writers, as types of the four temperaments, sanguine, nervous, lymphatic, and bilious. The Word of God is regarded, in the Christian system, as the rule of life and standard of appeal for the Christian character. On perfection of character, SEE HOLINESS; SEE SANCTIFICATION; SEE PERFECTION. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 7:376; Bibliotheca Sacra, 3:22.