To be spiritually healthy is to be thriving in your desire to pursue Jesus and walking in the strength of the Holy Spirit. But spiritual health is tricky. We might be so obsessed with looking good outwardly that we fail to pay attention to what’s going on inside us. No wonder Jesus addressed the outwardly religious of His day with a scathing indictment. “Hypocrites,” He said. It’s not enough to just play the part outwardly. Spiritual health works from the inside out.

Discussion Questions

Have you known people who seemed to present “a good, Christian” exterior but were later exposed as creepy or evil? How would you describe your struggle with matching your inside attitudes with your outside behaviors?

Notice Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Mark 7:5-7. What words from Isaiah did Jesus apply to this group of outwardly religious men? How can we today be guilty of the same sins?

Jesus reserved harsh words for the outwardly religious of His day—the scribes and the Pharisees. Read Matthew 23:1-13. Take a moment to highlight the specific behaviors Jesus criticized.

Read Matthew 23:23-28. Again, notice more characteristics of the scribes and Pharisees. Why does Jesus tell them to focus on the inside of the cup and dish first? What does that mean?

In spite of their impure motives, the scribes and Pharisees looked like upstanding, God-fearing people in their behavior. Read Matthew 5:20. How much better would you have to live to possess a righteousness that “exceeds” that of the scribes and Pharisees. Is it possible that the righteousness Jesus is describing is not connected with your outward behavior at all (compare Romans 3:21-26)?

Paul encourages young Timothy to exercise physically and spiritually. Read 1 Timothy 4:8. How are you exercising toward godliness, beginning first with your insides? How would you assess the health of your current spiritual condition?

Further Reading

Freedom From the Past

Our past marks us. Those experiences go into making us the people we are. But some of those experiences we would rather forget. Guilt, shame, and regret can carve deep gashes in our souls—permanent reminders of another life we would prefer to leave behind. But God...

The Dark Night

Following Jesus on the path towards spiritual health sometimes leads us up mountaintops. Here, God's presence is a tangible experience, and activities like prayer, scripture reading, and worship are fulfilling. However, as we continue to follow Jesus, we will...

Branching In

Spiritual health is impossible apart from discipleship. We can hardly say that, as Christians, we are spiritually healthy if we are not following the way of Jesus. The question is how do we follow Jesus in a healthy way? It is very easy for discipleship to become...

Knowing Yourself and Your God

Getting to know God ranks high on the list of life’s most meaningful quests. God has revealed Himself to us. He is knowable. And we can grow to know Him in deeper and deeper ways. But our knowledge of God is always connected to the knowledge of ourselves. As we get to...

Read the Bible

We live in an age of information overload, and the amount of information increases every day. Yet the most important information ever written is contained in one book--the Bible. The words in the Bible, God's words, give us life--spiritual life, eternal life. Jesus...