Doing good reveals Christ’s presence in our lives.
In fact, you might write “presence” and you might even above that write “supernatural.” It reveals God’s supernatural presence. People don’t need to see just good, moral, goody two-shoes, trying hard to be a little bit better and moral. He says that when you are in Christ, something supernatural and dynamic happens to your values and your priorities and your life and your relationships.
Look at verse 12. He says, “It,” he’s speaking of the grace of God, does grace save us? Yes. But the same grace inside of us begins to create both the “want to” and the will to transform us.
In fact, the key concept here, it’s very simple, is grace provides life change. Literally, grace produces life change. And so look what it says, “For it,” the grace of God, “teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.”
When the grace of God deposits the Spirit of the living God inside of you and inside of me, it gives us power and a new set of desires to say no to what’s ungodly.
The Cretan lifestyle: lying, cheating, immorality, lack of concern for other people, me-ism, hedonism, I’m the only one that matters. And you say no to worldly passions and the lures and you say yes and you say yes to three different things he gives.
And one talks about your relationship with yourself, one is about your relationship with other people, and the third word is your relationship with God. And it says it produces self-discipline. It means God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of self-discipline.
The Spirit of God begins to allow you to arrange your life in ways that produce the life of Christ. You’re not just pushed here and there by the passions and desires and the feedback in the media of the world.
And then he says you live justly or uprightly, it means you tell the truth to people, you shoot it straight with people, you can be trusted in your relationships at home and at work and in business and in sales calls. You’re upright.
And then finally, godly is your relationship that you live with this reverence of God and rather than fearing what everybody else thinks, you fear, in a healthy, reverent way, what He thinks. And so what he says is, “This grace,” literally, “when it’s operating in your life the evidence is it produces good works.”
Let me ask you, if you will, I want to read this passage and I’d ask you, if you would, just turn, turn if you would, to Matthew chapter 7 because according to Jesus, this is really, really big and really important and what I notice about Jesus is He seems to talk about the biggest issues in our lives and the problems they had then and the problems we have now are all the same.
Matthew chapter 7, I pick it up at verse 15. It’s toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount. He is describing what it means to be a follower of His. And we have a warning. It says, “Watch out for false prophets, they come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Question: Well how would you watch out for them? “By their fruit, you will recognize them.”
Then He gives this rhetorical question that, you know, in the day people would go, “Duh, of course.” He says, “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes?” No. “Or figs from thistles?” Well, of course not. “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”
And then here’s an axiomatic statement, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” By their outward behavior, by their attitudes, by their time, by how they spend their money, by how they treat people you will recognize them.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will come to Me on that day,” Jesus said, at the end of time they will say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and didn’t we drive out demons, and perform miracles?” I mean, we were religious, man, we were…
“Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; away from Me, evil doers.” I have a huge concern. One of the, I guess, privileges I would call it, maybe the last ten years is I have been in, I don’t know if thousands would be an exaggeration, but at least several hundred churches all over the world.
And whether it’s a denominational church or an evangelical church or a Bible church or a community church or whether it’s a Catholic church or a Baptist church or a Methodist church or a Pentecostal church – we have a rush of people and a throng of people who at least when you look at the visible evidence of their life, of their time and their energy, their morality and their relationships – they live, I mean, zero difference than those that are outside of Christ.
But on a certain day, at a certain time, they raised their hand or they walked down an aisle somewhere or they had maybe a little religious experience, and they intellectually agreed that Jesus was God and they intellectually agreed that He rose from the dead.
And someone said, “Believe that and everything is going to be great.” And they believed intellectually that salvation involves an intellectual, an emotional, and a volitional content where you turn from your sin, the word is “repentance,” and you receive Christ to follow Him.
And what the apostle Paul, this is not new, when he began to look at the lives of the people in Corinth and in other churches, when there was no fruit, he said basically, “Only God knows…” but in II Corinthians 13:5, look at this, follow along. He says to these people, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves! Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” – unless of course you fail the test.
He’s talking to a group of people whose morality and lifestyles are way away. He doesn’t assume they’re not in the faith. He’s not assuming there’s not a light in here. But he’s saying, “This is all I can see! And if this is all I can see, I’m looking at the fruit, some of you need to really ask, ‘Does this light live in me?’”
Because according to Jesus, if it does, it produces fruit. So I don’t know where you’re at. But I just have this feeling that just scares me. But I think the most dangerous place to be in the entire world would be to intellectually believe, “Oh, I believe in Jesus, I believe He died, believe He rose from the dead, I got a ticket to heaven, I think everything is fine, I live my life completely my own way, I don’t think about God much, I don’t have much desire for His Word, I don’t really want to be around Christians that much, but I believe and I think I checked the box. I’m okay, right?”
What if it’s not? What if you’re one of those people who say, “Hey, Lord, Lord, I went to that Bible church and when the games weren’t on or when I didn’t have something for the weekends…”
What if He would say, “I never knew you.” And so, I don’t want anyone to do anything other than have an honest talk with God where you say, “If I’m not in, would You show me?” Examine yourself.
My father in law trusted Christ two years ago at eighty-seven. I have four kids and when little kids are growing and they love their grandparents, all of my four kids, from little up through their thirties, have shared Christ with their grandfather. We have sent him tapes, CDs, he has listened to hundreds of messages. And if you asked him, “Do you believe?” “Yep! I believe in the Old Man upstairs, Chipper, I think everything is going to be fine.”
I mean, there is no fruit. I mean, there’s no concern for his grandkids, there’s no concern for his kids, he’s been mean for all the years that I have ever known my wife, he is narcissistic, he has absolutely alienated almost everyone on the planet. I mean, we have been in counseling because of all that my wife has been through.
I can say this reverently or irreverently. He’s a jerk and an evil man. But he’d tell me, “Oh yeah, I’m fine. I believe in the Man upstairs.” “Well, do you believe in Jesus?” “Yeah, I believe in Jesus.” “You think He died?” “Oh, yeah, everything.” Zero evidence. Two years ago, on the fourth of July, for reasons I cannot understand and I don’t have time to talk about, he made a genuine commitment and received the grace of God in his life. And to my shame it was like, “I’m going to wait and see this one,” because honestly he’s been messing with my wife and I have dealt with a lot of pain that she has and I have just wanted to take him out. I didn’t have much faith.
And then for the first time in thirty-five years that I have known him, he starts to call my wife. He never called her. He actually sent her a birthday card, first one, in the thirty-five years I have known her.
And then, he began to care about people. And then he began to ask about my kids. And then, all this fracking is going on and he owns some oil and they fracked his land and he came into a little bit of money, my kids, “Granddad… I haven’t gotten a birthday card, he’s never even called. He sent me a thousand dollars!”
And then he sent a little something for my wife. And now he’s saying, “Thank you.” And all I can tell you, in two years, at eight-seven to eighty-nine, dramatic, significant life change. Because good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit.
Why does doing good matter? It matters because those outside of Christ, they need to see the light to know salvation is real. And it matters because if you have the light, it’ll show up. So you need to examine yourself. This doing good is big stuff in Scripture.
The third reason we do good is because it reveals the priority of our lives, verse 13. Notice after he says, we say no to these things and we say yes, and by the way, that word “it teaches us,” I love that word, just before we go on, “it teaches us,” it’s how a parent teaches a child.
So if you’re hearing, “My life’s not perfect, I wonder whether I’m a Christian,” it’s not saying you’re perfect, it’s says you’re making progress, the leaves are coming out, there’s a little fruit here, a little fruit there. The grace of God teaches us, it’s three steps forward and two backwards. You have issues, I have issues, we’re all going to have issues until Jesus comes back or you go get to see Him.
But it brings about transformation and change that’s visible, that’s real, that’s internal, that’s from the heart.
And then notice, while something is happening there’s a focus. He says, “While we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our,” notice how Jesus is described, “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Now, up above, I think I had you circle the word “appearing.” Circle it down here, it’s the same word. And what’s interesting, what he’s saying is, “There was all this darkness and then grace burst and light came into the world,” he says, “There’s an appearing or an epiphany of grace!”
And what he’s saying then is, “When you are in Christ, you’re looking for not just the grace here but there’s a second epiphany and that’s when He returns, the blessed hope, the glorious appearing – it’s when Christ comes back.”
And if you believe that’s true, see, here’s the key concept. Everyone either has an eternal perspective or a temporal perspective. Now, I could ask, you know, like, on a little test, “Okay, multiple choice, are you ready? Do you believe in heaven and do you believe that you will live forever and do you have an eternal perspective?” A) Yes. B) No.
I would guess that about ninety some percent of all the people in this room would say, “I believe I have an eternal perspective.” And that’s what our minds say and that’s what our words say.
But here’s how you know. If, in fact, there is a heaven and there is a Savior and He’s coming back and He cares about your family and your neighborhood and He cares about the people all around the world and He cares about who shows up at work and what kind of dad or mom or roommate that you are, and you have an eternal perspective, here’s what I will tell you. Your time, your energy, your thoughts, and your money will flow to things that last forever, not just things that happen for the right now.
Notice the key concept here is temporal versus eternal perspective. And the apostle Paul, in Philippians chapter 3, after he talked to them he said, “Join together in following my example.” He’s talking about lifestyle, how you live.
“Brothers and sisters, just as you have us as a model, keep your,” notice, “eyes on those who live as we live.” Well, Paul, how do you live? “For as I tell you and often told you before, now and tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ,” he’s speaking to the Church, people in the Church!
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame, their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ; who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”
And so all I’m saying is, by way of application, be ready. Be ready. God is coming back and my doing good doesn’t just reveal my priorities. They reveal my real priorities.
I’d encourage you to read the passage I put in your notes on, again, Jesus’ teaching out of Matthew 25 where He talks about two sets of virgins and He is giving a picture of the return of a bridegroom and these wedding party virgins. And half of them were prepared and half of them weren’t.
Half of them just brought a lamp and half of them brought a lamp with a jar of oil and they fell asleep and then He came, the bridegroom, when they weren’t ready. And the half were out of oil, they asked for the others’. “Can we have some of yours?” And they said, “No, we won’t have enough.”
And I love this line, I just read this fresh last night, “When they went to buy more oil,” they were off doing other things, “He came.” And then they came and knocked on the door and said, “Hey, we want in now.” And it says, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” See, our doing good reflects my real priorities.
I had a friend who came over to my house last night and he had been doing some work, he goes, “You know, I’m not sure if I can make it to church or not and I’m on fire for missions and stuff,” and he gave me a check, he said, “Could you put that in the offering for me tonight?”
And then he says, “Have you looked at the numbers?” I said, “Well, what do you mean?” He goes, “Man, we’re, like, four hundred thousand dollars short of the goal and are we going to make that up in time? And, man, that really matters.”
And he said, “I’ll tell you what, you’re not, if it was me, I’d step up.” I said, “Lighten up, man, okay?” But you know what he told me? He owns a small company, he told me he’s passionate about what matters most and what’s going to happen forever.
Where my time and my energy and my money and my dreams go reveal my priorities. And so doing good is profound. Doing good announces the grace of God for others, doing good reveals the grace of God working in me, and doing good talks about this appearing, this epiphany, of the Lord’s return for other people.
Finally, doing good, the fourth reason, reveals Jesus’ purpose for our lives. The key concept is you’re His workmanship. It’s interesting, the most classic verse that we quote about, “For by grace you are saved through faith; that not of yourselves, it’s the gift of God; not a result of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8 and 9.
Now here’s the purpose clause, verse 10, “For we are His workmanship,” literally His poem, His work of art. “ We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for,” what? “Unto a good work.”
This isn’t just about doing nice little things. The Creator of the universe has a good, unique work that the gifts you have, the family you came from, the circumstances, and the point in history that you are right now, He has something for you to do and something for me to do. Your “doing good” reveals the purpose He has for your life.
Jesus’ last night, He got His disciples together and He said, “Fellas, this is what glorifies God. This is what matters.”
He talked about the vine and the branch, the relationship, and then He says, “You producing much fruit,” not some fruit, much fruit. The grace of God, implanting the Spirit of God, that changes a character, that changes relationships, that changes priorities, that changes concern.
You become an agent where the conduit of God’s love and grace flow in you and then through you and it changes people.
Doing good matters. As John Wesley said, “Do all the good that you can to all the people you can as often as you can and as long as you can.”