Summary: The idea of the sermon is the see the contrast between our tendencies to be self-serving or self-promoting versus having the humble spirit that promotes God. The Pharisee and Tax Collector in the parable of Luke 18.9-14 are the examples we will consider.
1. Self Esteem and Funeral Director
A mild mannered young man came into a counselor's office ready for a divorce. He complained that his wife was so bossy that she was driving him off the wall. He wanted things to change, immediately.
The counselor gave him a book on assertiveness. He was so desperate to change things that he quickly read the whole book. Determined to make changes, he stormed into the house and walked up to his wife. Pointing a finger in her face, he said, "From now on, I want you to know that I am the man of this house, and my word is law!
"I want you to prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and to finish the meal with a fabulous baked dessert.
"Then, after dinner, you're going to draw me my bath so I can relax.
And when I'm finished with my bath, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?"
"The funeral director," said his wife.
2. Our hearts can become hardened or impure so that we need new ones
a. We can be hard or harsh toward others
b. We can be self-centered or even self-righteous in our hearts -- to our own destruction
c. God will replace stone hearts with hearts of flesh; He will create within us clean, pure hearts
3. Luke 18.9-14
4. The impact of the heart -- Constructive or Destructive?
I. A Tension to Resolve (Works vs. Faith)
A. The Role of Works in Our Salvation by God
Fruits of Faith
The phrase "catch-22" refers to a problem that has a solution that is prohibited by the problem itself. A typical "catch-22" is when a job seeker is denied a job because of a lack of experience which he will never get unless he can get a job. Not exactly a "catch-22" puzzle, but a challenge nonetheless, is this theological problem: We cannot be saved with good works, but neither can we be saved without good works. How is that possible?
1. The Bible clearly says we are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
B. The Relationship of Works in Our Faith
1. Our Works
a. Aren't too good -- We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64.6
b. Can Lead Us Astray -- Self-righteous behavior in hating others -- Luke 18.9
2. Our Works Show Our Salvation and Our Faith
a. "Emunah" -- Steadiness -- Exodus 17.12 (Battle with Amalek)
b. Believing God will do as God says -- 2 Spies had faith 10 did not; Abraham
c. Jesus' Contrast --
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' Matthew 7.21-23
"Faith and works are like the light and heat of a candle; they cannot be separated." Unknown
II. A Trade to Complete (My Works for God's Works; Trust God, Not Myself)
A Foolish Trade
A man walked into a convenience store, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register.
The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving his $20 bill on the counter.
So how much did he get from the drawer? Fifteen bucks.
How often have we done the same thing, given up something of value in an attempt to get something else of even more value, only to be disappointed in what we ended up with?
Remember Esau? He left his birthright on the counter as he grabbed a bowl of stew and ran! Not a smart trade!
Any time we trade God's favor for the popularity of men, we do the same thing. Any time we trade an eternity with God to "live for the moment", we do the same thing. Any time we trade our character and reputation for a few minutes of passion or pleasure, we do the same thing.
A. Trusting Selves Instead of God -- Pharisee
1. Separated Ones
a. Avoided sin and sinners -- Luke 15.1ff