Summary: Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican - The church is full of ’good people’ who need to know the difference between self-righteousness and God’s righteousness. Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint Presentation.
A Good Enough Sermon
Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
You get to write the introduction to this sermon. I need help, and this is just the right crowd to assist me…
Honestly, in your own words, write a brief answer to the following question, imagining it is the Lord Jesus Who is asking it to you:
“Why should I let you into heaven?”
We won’t collect these, but it is imperative that every person answer for themselves. Though brief, your answer should be specific, not general like “because I’m saved” or “because I’m a Christian.” Jesus is looking for what you base that on, as if He is needing convincing of why you are qualified to enter.
When done, show it to someone nearby, and check out their answer.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.
Keep in mind that there are no exact words or magic phrases in what would be Biblically a ‘right answer.’ A correct answer could be worded in a multitude of ways, but will contain some key thoughts and concepts, and have at least a general idea present that is very important. It will also be void of certain ingredients if it is a good foundation to build on.
I’d like to ask a few to volunteer and read their answer aloud as a testimony of how you were saved…
A publican is not the opposite of a democrat. He was a tax collector. Sorry to bring that up on April 15th! And the Pharisee was a religious man. You could call this “The Parable of the Deacon and the IRS Agent”!
Here we find 2 different men, praying 2 different prayers, and getting 2 differing results. One was saved that day and the other was not.
Either could have qualified to be saved, but only 1 did. There are numerous examples in Scripture of both Pharisees and Publicans that were saved.
Either could have had the ‘right answer’, but only 1 did. So what made the difference?
The Pharisees’ prayer was all about himself.
v. 11-12 He acts holy and like he’s thanking God, but really he’s praising himself. He’s saying, “God, you must really like me because I don’t drink, smoke, or chew, or kiss the girls that do!”
We all want to feel good about ourselves, but the Bible says to let another praise you, and not to praise yourself. This man lifted up his own righteousness and good works, and it is clear that he is trusting in himself for his salvation. If he was to make it to heaven on his own merit, I guess he would get the credit and be able to sing “How Great I Am” for all eternity.
The Publican’s prayer did the opposite. He recognized himself as a sinner and realized his only hope for heaven was not in anything about himself but only in God and His mercy.
So, how about you? Is your answer about good that you have done or about Jesus and what He did for you on the cross at Calvary?
It’s very important at this point that we all be transparent as we think about our answer. I beg you, make sure your goal is to be right, not to ‘have been right’ all along. Be correctable.
v. 14b Don’t try to convince yourself that you are saved…ask God to convince you by the facts, or to convict you if you are not. Humble yourself!
God forbid that your answer be about you being a good person. The devil’s most successful lie is one that says that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. Nothing could be further from the truth!
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
And there shall in no wise enter into it [heaven] any thing that defileth…
God cannot allow sin into heaven, and yet we are all sinners! And so, somehow our sins must be covered, yea, erased, blotted out, forgiven…or put another way: paid for! And Jesus paid for your sins. If you don’t accept His payment for your sins, then you will have to pay for your sins, which will take you an eternity in hell, because the price for sin is death. Thank God that His Son Jesus died in our place, and the price for our sin was HIS death, if we’ll accept the payment!