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

The Abundant Church

Despite our romanticism about the early church, they had their fair share of problems - favoritism, theological arguments, and divisions (to name a few). Yet there remained a vision of an abundant church - full of energy, unity, and life. While the church today...

Who are you?

A believer's identity is in Christ. In Him we find true life, meaning, and purpose. Yet, it is common for believers to take their eyes off of Jesus and begin substituting other things in His place. We look for other ways to identify ourselves often choosing how we...

Count Me In

It shouldn’t surprise us that through the centuries, superstitions arise and thrive even among well-meaning church people. Most of these superstitions are based on a desire for a kind of good luck charm in a life filled with uncertainty and hardship. Even the practice...

A Call to Action

It is great to gather as the church. But we are also told by Jesus to “go” as the church, sharing God’s word with others and making them disciples. Fulfilling the Great Commission is not an option or a suggestion. It is a command to each of us as believers to actively...

A Brand New Day

While God never changes in His nature, He does change the way He works with human beings. Jesus announced a significant change when He held up a cup and identified it with His blood that would establish a new covenant. After being raised from the dead, Jesus told His...