Summary: examine yourself
PHARISEE OR PUBLICAN-WHICH ARE YOU
There was a very lost, wicked, rebellious man who decided it would be good for business if he went down to the church and joined it. He was an erer, an alcoholic, and had never been a member of a church in his life.
But when he went down to the altar to join the church, 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 scolded him for being such 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 erer, and 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 heaven, but he didn’t make it. One man tried to talk himself out of heaven, and he did make it.
Now Luke makes it plain who Jesus told this parable to. For he says in verse 9, "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 in prison? 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. You are going to learn, surprisingly, what does impress God, and what doesn’t.
I. I find RELIGION in this parable (10)
A. There are PLACES associated with religion.
The Pharisee and the Publican both came to the temple. Today the church is a place that is associated with religion. Religious people go to church.
Heathens are observers of temple-worship. Our Lord, and his apostles, went up to the temple; and we are commanded by the apostle, "not forsaking the assembling ourselves together, as the manner some is” in our days. Though our devotions may begin in our closets, they must not end there. If people never show their devotions to before others, I must suspect they have little or none at home. "Two men went up to the temple."
B. There are PRACTICES associated with religion
What went they to the temple for? Not to make the house of God a house of merchandise, or turn it into a den of thieves; not to criticize the preacher, or disturb the congregation; no, they came to the temple, says our Lord, "to pray."
"Two men went up to the temple to pray." I fear one of them forgot his errand. I am at a loss as to what to call the Pharisee’s address; it certainly does not deserve the name of a prayer. It may rather be said that he came to the temple to boast, than to pray; for I do not find one word of confession of his original guilt; not one single petition for pardon for his sins, ora request for grace to help in time of need. He only brings to God a reckoning of his performances. "The Pharisee stood, and prayed thus with himself; God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, erers, or even as this Publican."