Sermon Notes

I’m saved. Now what? 


  • As a preacher to professing Christians, I cannot stress this enough, but the topic on which I am about to preach today, is of incalculable value to your soul. I would not be exaggerating when I say that it is a matter of life and death. For all of you.
  • I will be focussing on the first verse of Matthew 6, for today, and giving you an introductory overview of the kind of things we’re going to be learning from this chapter.
    Now, if God answers my prayer, and brings to effect what I desire to communicate to you this day, this sermon would seem like anything but, an introduction. 

    • But first, as we begin our journey through this next chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, let each one of us have a prayer in our heart, for the favour of our Lord, to carry us through each verse in power and conviction.
  • Matthew 6:1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
  • My sermon today will have three parts to it. First, I will be laying out a crucial problem statement. A problem that all of us often wrestle with, and are prone to handle poorly. A problem that this verse and a large part of the first half of chapter six addresses.
    Second, I’m going to do a brief exegesis of verse 1.
    Third, I’m going to take the revelation of that exegesis and apply over this problem of your soul.

The Problem Statement

  • As Christians, we all know that Scripture tells us much about what the new life in Christ ought to look like. But how do we get from ‘being saved’ to ‘living the saved life’?
    If we are truly and genuinely saved (justified in Christ Jesus), how does the life we then live be visibly different from our old selves?

    • Now, most of you will probably say that such works of the new life (or living the new way) must flow out naturally from this new life that a believer has in Christ Jesus. That this transformed life is naturally evident in a born-again believer by virtue of the very fact that he is born-again. And you would be right.However, is that our experience in every aspect of life? Does righteousness always flow out naturally in our lives, or do we have to wilfully put our effort into obeying Christ?
      If righteousness is an inevitable outflow of being Christian, then why does Jesus, in this verse, talk about the “practice of righteousness”. 
      If Paul wrote extensively that no man is saved by works, as we read in
      Ephesians 2:8-9For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
      Galatians 2:21 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
      Romans 9:16So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
      Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.then, why does James make the sweeping statement in
      James 2:17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.Then, if you say that the difference here is that Paul was talking about works before salvation and James was talking about works after salvation, then what about Paul’s statement in
      Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
    • On the other hand, if you say that the new way of life is meant to be pursued by human will and effort in obedience to God’s word, then why does Jesus, in John 15, talk about Himself as the wine, and us as the branches attached to Him. He says repeatedly that ‘if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit’, not the other way around. We don’t bear fruit in order to abide in Him. Also, He describes the Heavenly Father as the Gardener who prunes us in order that we may bear more fruit.
  • Therefore, does the visible change of the person who has the new life in Christ, inevitably flow out of them “being a believer”? Or, does one have to work (make effort) to live this life of visible change?
    Which is it? Are we to bear fruit by effort when we know for a fact that it is only natural for a tree to bear fruit? Or, are we to not work out righteousness if it does not come all that naturally to us?Let me further complicate this dilemma with a few examples.

    • Suppose that there is an atheist who is very charitable by nature. Whenever he sees a beggar, his involuntary reaction is to reach into his pocket and give some money. On the other hand, there’s a believer who loves Jesus but isn’t used to giving out money like that. Now, when he sees the beggar, he thinks for a while, and remembers that the Bible teaches him to be a cheerful giver. So, trusting in God’s word he goes ahead and gives some money to the beggar with joy.
      Now, who is more Christ-like? The charitable atheist or the work-based Christian?
    • Suppose there is an unregenerate (unsaved) Christian. Whenever they pray, they can’t help but cry. They are naturally very emotional and sensitive to other people’s pain. So when they pray for others or even themselves, their voices end up shaking, and end up crying often. On the other hand, what if a regenerate Christian who by nature are not prone to show these emotions prays the same prayer with a straight face, but a sincere heart.
      Who is more Christ-like? The sensitive goat or the insensitive sheep?
    • The Bible Nerd who is on his fifth revision of the NT, or the theologically poor believer with a bad English accent who’s just inched past the Gospels?
  • Beloved, I want to address the issue of how you live out your lives as Christians, and I want to take this opportunity to warn you against the folly of self-righteousness. That is why I titled my sermon, as you can see in the service sheet – “I’m saved, now what?”
  • As I’ve repeated several times, sermon on the mount, that is covered in chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew’s Gospel addresses three things; the new life, the new way of thinking, and the new way of living. No one can live the new way without thinking the new way, and no one can think the new way without having the new life.And Matthew 6 brings out some crucial clarity in this regard.

The Exegesis

  • Matthew 6:1Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
    • Beware
      • When the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Creator King, the Lord of Hosts; utters the word beware, can we just pause and wonder why our knees aren’t shaking?
      • How does one generally respond to a sign post on the gate that reads, “Beware of dog”? Does that not alert our senses and instigate a certain kind of response from us?
        The original language in the greek for that word is translated, to give full attention to something. 
      • So, Jesus is saying, “Pay careful and full attention” to something. It’s a warning call from the Messiah. Heed this warning and it will go well with you, but ignore it and you will suffer the consequences.
      • Be warned!
    • Practicing your righteousness
      • Isn’t that an interesting phrase? We’ve been doing a study on the epistles of John as part of the men’s fellowship, and the men of RedHill will tell you how many times they’ve come across this phrase in John’s letter.
        1 John 3:1010 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God,
      • There is no question about the fact that much of the NT calls us as believers to act out our faith in deed and action.
        We are called to obey, to work out our salvation, to run the race, fight the good fight, and to abound in good works.
      • It is the child of the devil that refuses to practice righteousness. God’s children practice righteousness. They don’t just do righteous things, they practice them.
        The word practice suggests strongly of the involvement of human will and effort in obeying God.
        And you know the saying – practice makes perfect. 
      • Therefore, do you see the problem we are faced with? Matthew 6 addresses our problem statement of how does one live out the Christian life effectively.And the answer is both simple and hard at the same time, as we will see when I apply the exegesis to the problem in the third part of this sermon.
    • before other people in order to be seen by them
      • What we are to beware is not the practice of righteousness but rather the practice of righteousness that flows out of wrong and selfish motives.
      • This is a crucial point that I believe we must not miss. All human action inevitably flows out of some human desire. Every action of life is an inevitable fruit of some seed that is inside of us.In this problem of the Christian way of living, we make a false assumption. We pit the actions that flow out of our belief in Christ over against our actions that we believe are manufactured out of mere will and effort. But, we fail to recognise that such a will and an effort in and of itself flows out belief, and want, and desire.
        [go back to the example of the forceful, yet cheerful giver, or the insensitive sheep who makes it a point to pray for others’ needs, or the unsophisticated mind of a poor theologian striving with the Scriptures]
      • We always practice something (or act out something) in order for something. There is always motive and desire behind our actions. It is this motive and desire that we must beware.I’ve already begun applying the exegesis to our problem statement to some extent now. But let’s finish the exegesis first.
    • Practicing your righteousness
      • Going back, that is why I think Jesus refers to this as your righteousness. As we see Jesus goes on to address in the following verses the practice of righteousness in giving, praying, and fasting.
        These are not your righteousness, but God’s. It ought to be practicing righteousness as we saw in 1 John, instead of practicing your righteousness.
      • But here, Jesus uses this pronoun to clarify that no true righteousness can be pursued from false motives. For such a thing is hypocrisy. 
      • As MacArthur points out (and I’m loosely paraphrasing this), out of the ashes of religion people always fashion out humility and devotion in order to serve themselves, and not God. These are the hypocrites.
      • Romans 10:1-4 – Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
    • for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
      • How does one who practices righteousness not earn a heavenly reward? Because of unrighteous motives. Outward righteousness mean nothing without the inward righteousness of the heart.
      • Romans 14:23For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
      • If you do the right thing, God is not obliged to reward you unless you do it out of right motives. In other words, if you practice righteousness out of poor motives, and not out of a transformed heart that loves Jesus, you will have no reward.

The folly of self-righteousness

  • Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
    When you look at the deepest part of your faith, at the very foundation of your Christianity, below all the layers of convictions, what do you find?
    At the base of my faith, is neither doctrine nor theology, but a relationship.
    You miss this, and you miss everything.
  • Christ is not a Christian protocol or a rule of faith that you apply to your Christianity. He is a person. He is alive. And you can know Him. And you will love Him.
  • When we sin, do we realise that Jesus sees it all. Every thought to every deed, every emotion to every excuse; Christ, the Saviour, sees them all. We are stripped bare before this Sovereign King. Will we reckon the cost of His tears? The tears that roll down His cheeks mingled with blood. Will we stare into His eyes as He hangs upon that tree, the crown of thorn pressed upon His head, and His body beaten and lashed; all for you sin and inadequacy. He bore your shame, took your place under the might of God’s eternal wrath.
  • Now, tell me what your faith is based upon. The doctrinal intricacies of Romans 9, or the God revealed in it?
    If you search your faith, what will you find? Jesus, or yourself?
Michael Teddy Fernandez

Author Michael Teddy Fernandez

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