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.
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.