1. What are some ways we can help be protected from deceiving ourselves that we are right with Jesus when in reality we truly don’t know him?
Perhaps the number one deception comes from comparing our “Christian life” with those around us, and thinking that, if we’re similar with the other people in the church, we are all going to heaven.
During my college years, I had a dilemma, most people around me and even myself, did not appear to be Christians as I read the Bible more and more. I had two choices to believe: one is that we all must be Christian, because the only alternative is that the vast majority of my Christian friends and I are going to hell, I didn’t want to believe this because it was a terrible thought; two is that we are all Christian and the Christianity I saw day to day around me was all there was to Christianity.
Christianity should never be judged by how other church goers live around us, but by what the Bible says about it. There are many hard sayings of Jesus that makes me feel like it’s impossible to live up to the life of a Christian, however, you must also realize that Jesus only calls us to obedience after he has shown us the grace of salvation that we didn’t deserve.
So what you must determine is whether you are someone who is saved trying to live a holy life, or someone who is unsaved trying to act like a Christian. The only difference is faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope for salvation and reliance on the Holy Spirit to become holy.
2. What are some ways you display righteousness in front of others?
For me, I was always pressured as a pastor’s kid to appear more righteous than I actually am. However, this is the same for any child who has been going to church for a long time. I do not think it was necessarily wrong for my parents to discipline me in this way, I think it helped guide me to right conduct when I was tempted in every direction to live like the world. However, it becomes a problem when you think your behavior somehow makes you more righteous or more worthy of being a child of God than others. This was the problem of the Pharisees.
For the Pharisees, they blew a trumpet When giving to the poor and prayed in public for all to see. Their strict lifestyle made them self-righteous, which is thinking that they are more righteous than others.
3. What does the good works in verse 16 mean?
A work can be altruistic and benefit others, but for a work to be “good”, it has to be done by God, who is the only being who is good. Then, we can only do good works, if God does it through us. We cannot do anything unless we abide in Christ who is our vine (John 15), and we can do everything through him who gives us strength (Phil 4:13). Then we work as Jesus worked, who only worked when God worked (John 5:17, 19, 30)
◦ Ephesians 2:10 - For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
‣We were created for good works!
◦ John 5:17-20 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
‣ God’s work is not doing what we want, but taking part in how God is working around us.
◦ John 6:29 - Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
‣ To believe that Jesus is the messiah is to experience the work of God!
◦ Philippians 2:13 - For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
◦ Titus 2:7-8 - Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
‣ Good works also requires our obedient response to the Holy Spirit within us to live like Jesus.
◦ Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
◦ Philippians 1:6 - And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
◦ Hebrews 13:21 - Equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
‣ God is closely related to every good work in our lives: our works are for God and give glory to God, the good work of the gospel was started by God and will be completed by him, and God equips us to do good works.
◦ Genesis 1:31 - And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
◦ Romans 1:20 - For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
‣ God did good work when he created, and through his good works he was glorified, and still to this day his good work, albeit corrupted by sin, clearly portrays God’s eternal power and divine nature to the world, and thus glorifies God. A good work glorifies God.
◦ James 2:20 - Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?