Luke 10:29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?
An expert in religious law wanted to test Jesus so he asked Him what he had to do to receive eternal life. Jesus asked him what he understood the law of Moses to say he had to do. The man's reply was to love God with all the heart, soul and strength he had and to love his neighbor as himself. The man knew that he was not measuring up so he tried to justify his actions under the guise of not knowing who his neighbor was.
And so it is. It is one thing to know what the Scriptures teach, it's quite another thing to live them. Because we know we fail to live up to God's standards, we often try to justify ourselves before God. We convince ourselves that because we are "good people" we are good enough for God.
The expert knew the does and don'ts of how to live for God. He was a devout follower of the law and thought he had it made. He just knew that God was pleased with his efforts and would accept him into heaven. Imagine his surprise when Jesus knocked the props right out from underneath him. Jesus went way beyond where this man was in his understanding and living.
It isn't what we think we know that matters; it's how we are living out what we know that matters to God. If we are not applying to life the Word of God, we are no better off than this religious "expert." Saving faith is a life-changing faith and not just a mind-changing faith. Faith without works will certainly keep us out of heaven as well as works without faith. It's either God's way or no way.