Summary: In this parable Jesus contrasts the self righteous with humble, concluding: Everyone who exaults himself will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Today we will see: 2 People, 2 prayers and 2 Promises
The Problem Of Self Righteousness
A businessman well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, "Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," replied Twain. "You could stay in Boston and keep them." (Moody Bible Institute)
If I were to walk up to 10 people randomly and ask them why they should be allowed to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven I would wager that at least 8 of them would say – “Because I am a good person.”
How is it that we have deceived ourselves so much so that we actually believe we are good people in light of all the things we know we have done wrong?
Let’s try an exercise:
Have you ever stolen anything? Ever used the Lords name in vain even once? Ever murdered someone with your words? Ever committed adultery in your mind? Ever lied even once? OF COURSE YOU HAVE!!!
By our own admission then we are not good, far from it! James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (NASB)
Romans 3:12 – “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (NASB)
Today’s parable (earthly story to tell a Heavenly truth) is a direct refutation of the concept of self righteousness.
It say’s – “He [Jesus] told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt.”
So today, lets allow this parable of Christ to challenge us in our own efforts at self righteousness as we see:
Let’s begin by looking at…
I.TWO PEOPLE – (vs. 10)
This story Begins With Two Men: (1) Religious Pharisee and (1) Broken Publican [lit. sinner].
In those days all Jew’s were required to pray three times daily (9, 12 and 3) and all the Jews – Pharisees and Publicans alike would travel to the Temple Courts to pray.
PRAYER WAS A TIME OF GLORY: They would show up gladly so that all could see their piety.
If they happen to be fasting, they would paint their faces white and stand out… (See Mt. 6:17)
PRAYER WAS A TIME OF SHAME: They would show up for prayer, only to be ridiculed and mocked by the religious elites.
You would never see the face of a publican where it was white or not because it would have been hung low to the ground.
For the Publican this was not a time of false humility, but rather true humiliation.
One of the things I love about God is that He designed the human body so that we can neither pat our own backs nor kick ourselves too easily.
Both of these men were very confused about who they are:
One thought he was righteous is his own outward acts of piety
The other thought he was beyond redemption
Are we confused as well? Do you know who you are today?
If you think you’re the humble publican it may be a good sign that you’re not!
If you think you’re the prideful Pharisee, there is a good chance you’re not!
Do you say things like – “So and so missed church again” or “We need to pray for so and so, they are a mess” or “I was at such and such event where were you?” and the list goes on…
Have you ever considered where you fit in the story?
II.TWO PRAYER’S –(vs. 11)
If you really want to understand a person’s theology, simply listen to them pray.
THE PRAYER OF THE PHARISEE
(v.11) – “Stood [in the synagogue] ” Shows the attitude of the Pharisee who wanted to be seen by all. (Mt 6:5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.” )
(v. 11) – “Himself” I love this word because while it literally means he was praying in silent, the reality is he was praying to himself. He did not go to pray to God but to tell God how good he was an revel in his own glory.
(v.11) – “I am not like other people” At the root of his sin is the belief that he is somehow special. That he unlike others was able within himself to be holy.
He Thought He was Not A Swindler – But He Stole Glory From God