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Summary: We can only impress God when we finally realize that we have nothing in life aside from Christ within us. That is how we manage to impress God - not with our pride, but with our humble honesty.

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There was a very lost, wicked, and rebellious man who decided it would be good for business if he went down to the church and joined it. He was an adulterer, an alcoholic, and had never been a member of a church in his life.

But when he went down to place membership, he gave public testimony to the church that there was no sin in his life, and that he had grown up in the church, and they readily accepted him as a member.

When he went home he told his wife what he had done, and his wife, a very godly lady, exploded. She condemned him for being a hypocrite, and demanded that he go back to the church the next week and confess what he really was. Well, God used his wife to really break him, and he took it to heart.

The next Sunday he went back to the church, walked down to the front again, and this time confessed to the church all of his sins. He told them he was dishonest, an alcoholic, an adulterer, and that he was sorry. They revoked his membership on the spot. He walked out of the church that day scratching his head and muttered to himself: "These church folks are really strange. I told a lie and they took me in; and when I told the truth they kicked me out!"

The Lord Jesus told a story of two men in a similar situation who had totally different results. One man tried to talk himself into God’s kingdom, but he didn’t make it. One man tried to talk himself out of God’s kingdom and he did make it.

Let’s take a look at the passage in LUKE 18.

Now Luke makes it plain who Jesus told this parable to. In VERSE 9, it says,

"Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others."

Now if you want to know whether or not you are being addressed in this parable, let me ask you some questions:

· Do you ever look at people who don’t go to church, and think you are better than they are because you do go to church? If so, Jesus is talking to you.

· Do you ever look at people in prison, and think you are better than they are because you are not? If so, Jesus is talking to you.

· Do you ever look at people who are divorced, and think that you are better than they are because you are not? If so, then Jesus is talking to you.

· Do you ever look down your nose at anyone for any reason, and think you might be better than them? If so, Jesus is talking to you.

I promise you, every one of you will find yourself somewhere in this story, because at one time or another, all of us are guilty of trying to impress God.

Today, we are going to find out what impresses God and what doesn’t.

1. YOU IMPRESS GOD WHEN YOU DON’T TRY TO

In VERSES 10-12, we read,

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ’God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortionists, un-just, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’"

I know immediately you are ready to jump all over the Pharisee because he was, to say the least, a bit arrogant. Quite frankly, he really was an Eagle Scout. He dotted every religious "i" and he crossed every theological "t." He went strictly by the book. He had a heart for religion; the problem was his religion had no heart.

He was standing in the center of the inner court right in the heart of the temple. The reason he stood there was because it was where he could be heard the clearest and seen the best. He let everybody know just how wonderful he was. First of all, we read that he fasted twice a week. Now the Old Testament only required a Jew to fast once a year on the Day of Atonement. But this man fasted a 103 times a year more than he was required.

Then we read that he tithed everything that he possessed. Now the Old Testament only required that you tithe your income. But this man tithed everything that he earned and everything that he bought. In other words, he was a double thither. Now there is nothing wrong with fasting more than once a week, and there certainly is nothing wrong with giving more than a tithe.

But the problem was, this man thought back then what a lot of people keep thinking today--he thought his goodness gained him brownie points with God. He thought God accepts a person based on what they do for Him, or in other words, he thought he could get to heaven by his good works. He was religious and proud of it.

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David Cook

commented on Sep 8, 2009

Excellent sermon with great points and illustrations.

Randy Hamel

commented on Aug 15, 2013

Very well done. Hits at the point of the parable directly. ?? Would it be possible to be a Christian and have the attitude of that Pharisee? The way this sermon ends it leave the impression that this is not possible.

Bruce Ball

commented on Aug 16, 2013

It is my belief that if a person has, as their major focus in life, themselves (like that Pharisee) they will probably not go to heaven, because that would leave no room for Jesus to be your major focus. We can talk all day long, but when the end comes, it will on where we had Jesus in our lives. Nothing else.

James Mullins

commented on Mar 16, 2014

i think God I am not like other preachers using SC or PreachIT

James Mullins

commented on Mar 16, 2014

you know I was only teasing!!!

Bruce Ball

commented on Sep 24, 2014

Dear James, I appreciate our ability to comment on one another's sermons, but 'cute' and 'humorous' comments should only be done in private among friends, not in public to those we do not know. Maturity would be the better part of valor at this point.

Sandra Leightner

commented on May 15, 2015

Bruce - i could not find your source on Face the Music -- I found this quote instead "'face the music' originated from the tradition of disgraced officers being 'drummed out' of their regiment. A second popular theory is that it was actors who 'faced the music', that is, faced the orchestra pit, when they went on stage." The saying originates in mid 19th century America

Bruce Ball

commented on Nov 5, 2015

Sandra, there are apparently several versions of how that saying came about. The one I used was the one I researched.

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