Summary: The story of the Pharisee and the publican is the story of two great sinners. One knew he was a sinner and acknowledges it before God. The other knew not that he was a sinner and boasted of his righteousness.
Are There any Sinners in Your Church?
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others:
10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’
13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The story of the Pharisee and the publican is the story of two great sinners. One knew he was a sinner and acknowledges it before God. The other knew not that he was a sinner and boasted of his righteousness. Over yonder, these two men are going to the temple. One goes down to the front pew, (he must not have been a Baptist) and proudly takes his place there. He prays loudly, "Thank God I am not as other men are..." The other man felt so sinful and needy that he didn’t even go into the temple. Rather he stood afar off and beat upon his breast and cried out to God saying, "Lord, be merciful unto me a sinner."
I. Here we see two different attitudes.
A. One man is boasting of himself and the other is pouring out his heart to God.
B. One man saw his great need, the other his great self.
Church isn’t just a glorified social club. It should be a hospital for sinners. Folks, church should be where the saved come to worship in the beauty of His holiness, and the lost come to get saved and to be wrapped up in Christ’s righteousness.
There are saved and unsaved in every church, and that’s the way it should be, Amen? Jesus said in Luke 19:10, "I have come to seek and to save that which was lost." We have these two types of people today - the saints and the aints. One says, "I am a good man. Look at all the fine things I am doing. But look yonder at that person, at that drug addict, at that alcoholic, at that homosexual, at that prostitute. What a crying shame. I am so glad that I am better than they are." In God’s eyes there are no distinctions. Jesus shed the same blood, on the same cross, for my sins as well as for theirs. That makes them as special as I am or you are in God’s eyes.
There is only one God and one mediator between man and God, the man Jesus Christ. He didn’t die for a denomination but for every individual in the world.
God hates sin but loves the sinner. Now that’s Good news. Do you know what the only thing is that makes you any different from that drug addict, or prostitute, or homosexual, or alcoholic? It is that you have forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor theives, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God."
Can you say Amen?
How can you see or enter into the kingdom of God? Well, you’re going to be disappointed if you try to find the answer in religion. Religion doesn’t save you. The Baptist church won’t save you. This preacher won’t save you. It’s only when you put your faith and trust in Jesus that you are saved, born again. John 3:3 says, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Being good won’t save you. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are you saved through faith, and this not of yourself it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast." You can’t do anything. It’s faith plus nothing. It is a gift from God. God doesn’t need your help. He’s already got the perfect plan.
Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord."