June 25, 2017

Be Careful What You Think of Yourself

Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke gives us an inspired introduction to this parable in v. 9. — “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.”

  1. Every person by nature is self-righteous
    It is the family disease of all the sons and daughters of Adam. We will at times secretly imagine that we are not so bad as some, but “most people will proclaim their goodness.” Scriptures plain teaching is “In many things we offend all” (James 3:2) and “There is not a person on earth that does good and sins not” (Ecc. 7:20). “As it is written, there is no one who is righteous, not one” (Rom. 3:9-10). From the beginning man has wrapped himself in his apron of fig leaves and defended himself by blaming his troubles on God and then on other people that God has placed in our lives. We all do it.

  2. There is a serious danger inherent with self-righteousness
    Before we look at the dangers, notice that the Pharisee and the Publican were outwardly the same.   They both “went up into the temple to pray.” They both set their faces in the same way. Outwardly they both walked in the same path. They entered the same house. So far as we can see, there was no difference whatever in their outward religious behavior. The differences come from other areas.
    1. A difference in societal reputation. One was a Pharisee, the other a Publican (tax collector for the Romans). Everything Pharisees did was in order to be seen by men. They stood on the streets and made long prayers. A true believer freely admits others are much better than they (Phil 3:3). To the Jews, nothing was more offensive than a Publican. If you wished to insult someone you might say, “He’s a friend of Publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34).
    2. A difference in self-recognition.“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed” (v. 11). Notice the phrase “stood by himself” – I am not like…I fast…I tithe…I serve – I am deserving. Notice the tax collector “stood at a distance.” He had no confidence in himself before God.
    3. A difference in their requests. “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” – the request of the Publican. Notice that there is no request made by the Pharisee. Expectations kill relationships, and the worst expectations are the silent ones. Self-righteous people expect others to recognize them.
    4. A difference in their reward. “One man went home justified and the other did not” (v. 14). This is the danger. One is treated by God “just as if he never sinned” (the sinner) and the other was judged by God for his sin (the self-righteous). Do you see the problem with denying sin? Until there is a recognition and acknowledgment of your sin to God and others there is no mercy.
  3. Mercy from God is only found through faith in Jesus Christ
    The word translated “have mercy on me” is found only one other time in the Bible (Hebrews 2:17). “Therefore, Jesus had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
    1. Self-righteousness is common among the profane of the world.
    2. Self-righteousness grows best in the soil of religion, as man declares himself good by his actions.
    3. Self-righteousness makes men and women harsh, hard and judgmental regarding others. He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves…and viewed others with contempt (v.9).
    4. Self-righteousness will not bow to the authority of the Word of God alone.
    5. Self-righteousness will never acknowledge and confess sin.
    6. Self-righteousness bars a sinner from God’s grace because it fights against faith in Christ alone.

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.