The DEEP

No Good Work

gets an automatic green light.

John 3:1–3

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Notice that Jesus isn’t answering Nicodemus’s question when He says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus didn’t ask a question; he made a statement, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Where is Jesus going with this? How does His response fit what Nicodemus said?

It might not fit what he said. Sometimes Jesus responds to what someone is thinking before they ask anything. But if that’s the case here, where was Nicodemus going with his opening statement?

He identifies Jesus as “from God” and whom “God is with.” That could lead to almost anything about God and His agenda in sending Jesus. Nicodemus might not have even formulated his question yet.

Which would make this interaction totally typical of interactions with Jesus. People don’t usually know what to ask. They’re just awed and want Him to teach.

That’s what this is.


This same lesson applies to how we should pray. He is Lord, and we’re His servants. So, what should we say when we talk to Him?

“Lord, teach me.” “Lord, what would you have me do today?” “What is Your will for my life?”

It’s also okay to ask for favors—He commands us to do that—but we know little of what we really need. Mostly what we need is direction.

This gets back to the previous point about Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus holds up people who have “prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name,” as prime examples of the unsaved. How curious. What about those things stands out?

It’s that they seem extraordinarily good! These are the top, most extraordinary works. How does that make them prime examples of things done by the unsaved?

It’s that they are so obviously “God’s will” that these guys didn’t think to check and see if God really wants them to do them. They’re thinking things like, “You can’t go wrong with casting out demons.”

But you can. No “good” work is exempt from the rule that you must seek God’s will before acting.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.