Summary: Thank God I Am NOT LIKE............

February 06, 2021

The Context:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told a story”:

The Parable {Luke 18:10-14}:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

The Lesson:

The crowd would have been shocked…. Wait, what?! The Tax-Collector and NOT the Pharisee went home justified?

Justification: God removes our guilt and the penalty of sin and declares us righteous {as though we have never sinned} – we receive and accept this through faith in Jesus.

To understand the shock, we have to understand the position each man held in Jewish Society ---

The Pharisee:

Pharisees were highly regarded spiritual leaders and valued members of Jewish society. They built synagogues, taught Scripture and sought to maintain a distinctive Jewish identity. They strongly resisted the secular influence of Greek and Roman culture.

The 1st Century historian, Josephus, says, “The cities give great attestations to (the Pharisees), on account of their entire virtuous conduct, both in the actions of their lives, and their discourses also.” --- Josephus Antiquities Book 18, Chapter 1, Paragraph 3

The same community that valued Pharisees, HATED Tax-Collectors.

The Tax-Collector:

Tax-Collectors were Jews, so by default, they were seen as traitors because they worked for the HATED Romans, but they were worse than traitors because they were also corrupt.

We learned from the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus that Tax-Collectors paid a fixed sum for the right to collect taxes and anything above and beyond that was profit. These men became wealthy at the expense of their countrymen, so they were rejected socially and treated as the lowest class of sinners by the religious establishment {Rabbis debated whether it was possible for them to experience true repentance}

So again, how is it that a lying, cheating traitor was JUSTIFIED before God and NOT a pious Pharisee?

Let’s look more closely at their respective prayers:

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of my income.”

The Pharisee is not so much talking to God as he is talking to himself. He is recounting, for all those close enough to hear, how exceptionally righteous he is. The basis of this “righteousness” is the fact that he is not like the general riff-raff of society and he does “churchy” things.

This is an example of comparative righteousness --- comparing our righteousness to someone else’s righteousness and, in this case, congratulating ourselves because our “righteousness” is better.

Thank GOD I’m not like them …. those people {fill in the blank}. And please take note of all the excellent “religious things” I do!!!

Here’s the problem from God’s point of view:

Psalm 14:1-3 {Ps. 53:1-3} - The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 - There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.

Romans 3:9-17 - What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know."

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