NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Matthew 7:1-29
— How can we judge ourselves and others with righteous judgment rather than self-righteous judgment?
— What is the difference between outward compliance to Christ’s commands and inward conformity to Christ’s lordship?
Food for Thought:
Read Matthew 7:1-29. Even the most biblically illiterate person you know can probably tell you that the Bible says not to judge. You may have had the words tossed at you when you were trying to point out sinful behavior, and perhaps you’ve been driven into an exasperated silence upon hearing this misapplication of the verse so many times. Matthew 7, however, is far from a primer on tolerance.
In this same passage, Jesus preaches that some of the very people who believe they are above judgment are bound for hell. In addition to including the saying “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged,” this passage also holds condemnation like “Depart from me, you lawbreakers!” (v. 23).
Following the verse that is often taken out of context as a condemnation against any kind of judging whatsoever, Jesus clarifies that our judgment needs to start with a deep personal look at our own sinfulness. Then He tells us that once we have seen ourselves clearly, we are to turn our eyes to our brothers to judge — with righteous judgment — their actions (see John 7:24). And He tells us exactly the fruit we are to be looking for in both our lives and theirs.
After giving His listeners a blueprint for Christian living, Jesus issues an important warning: Outward compliance to Jesus’ commands is not enough to place someone in the kingdom of God. You can look really good by the things you say and do. Prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles would seem like the pinnacle of good works to perform for the glory of Jesus’ name. But just as it is possible to do good works as a show before human beings, it is possible to do good works as a show before God Himself, and He rejects all such shows.
If our law keeping doesn’t flow from a heart submitted to the God who sees the heart, then it is just as bad as lawlessness. Only if we obey through faith in Jesus can we be considered law keepers, since Jesus is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17).
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/gospelproject .