Brothers and Sisters,
As we close out this week with our thoughts on “JUSTIFICATION”, I would like to share with you a parable. Jesus often used parables to teach his disciples some very important lessons and the parable that He used to teach the disciples about how a man can be justified, He told of the Pharisee and the publican that went up into the temple to pray.
(Luke 18:9) And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
(Luke 18:10) Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
(Luke 18:11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
(Luke 18:12) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
(Luke 18:13) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
(Luke 18:14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
I’m sure you’ve heard this parable many times, but the lesson that Jesus is trying to convey here is that God despises self-righteousness and anyone that comes to Him with this kind of attitude will be rejected. The Pharisee felt like he was so much better than this poor publican. A publican was a tax collector and they were hated by the Jews. They were considered traitors to their people because they were hired by the Roman government to collect taxes and often they would overcharge the people and keep the money for themselves making them extortioners.
As this Pharisee prayed, he bragged about his good deeds. He fasted twice a week and gave tithes of all he possessed. We established yesterday that no man can be justified by his good deeds. There’s nothing wrong with fasting or giving tithes, but these things will not make a man accepted by God. These good deeds should be done not with a heart of self-righteousness, but with a heart of humility.
The publican would not so much as lift up his head when he prayed, but beat upon his breast asking God to be merciful to him a sinner. This is what God requires for a man to receive “JUSTIFICATON”.
(Psalms 34:18) The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
(Psalms 51:17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Jesus said, “this man (the publican) went down to his house justified rather than the other (the Pharisee): for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted”. Lord, help us to not be as the Pharisee in this parable and serve the Lord in humility like the Apostle Paul, (Acts 20:19) Serving the Lord with all humility of mind…