THE DANGER OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
The very nature of the Christian religion supposes that we feel ourselves to be sinners and that we should be ever ready to acknowledge it. Anyone who claims that he is absolutely perfect and as holy as God knows very little about man’s heart. Scripture confirms that man’s heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; (Jere. 17:9). Who would dare to go out under the open heaven, looking intently with their eyes toward the stars, and confess to having no sin? Believing they are as pure as God?
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Temple – (Luke 18:9-14)
Jesus spoke this parable to those who were righteous in themselves and spoke of others as sinners. To proclaim self-righteousness within one’s own self is a very dangerous thing.
The Pharisee in the story is the epitome of one who is self-justifying. His prayer has no elements of confession; he does not ask for forgiveness for his sins. He truly believes that he hasn’t any sins to confess. This is the spirit of pride, and God hates pride. Going into the temple to pray with the conditions of his heart would have served him better if he had just stayed at home. Prayers like this Pharisees are not heard by God.
Unlike the Pharisee, who stands boldly in the temple reciting his prayer of self-congratulations, the tax collector stood at a distance. Tax collectors were associated with the hatred of Romans and were seen as traitors to Israel. They were loathed and treated as outcasts. Therefore, the tax collector’s posture identified his feelings of unworthiness before God. The burdens of his guilt were unbearable, and the weight of his shame was heavy. Overcome by his transgressions, he beat his breast in sorrow and repentance to God as he appealed for mercy.
The tax collector’s prayer is the very prayer that God is waiting to hear. His attitude is the very attitude that God wants from all who come to Him. We must come as little children, seeking His face, asking for mercy and forgiveness. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; (Matt. 5:3). Being poor in spirit means admitting that we have nothing to offer to God to atone for our sins. We come to God as empty, impoverished, despised, bankrupt vessels.
The tax collector recognized his sinful condition and sought the only one who can bridge the gap, “God Himself.” No amount of good works, church attendance, tithes, community service, or neighborly love can blot away our sins. Only the precious blood of Jesus can cleanse us. It was for this reason that Jesus gave Himself as the “Sacrificial Lamb of God.” (AMEN!!) His atoning death is the only work that is able to cleanse us, making us acceptable and pleasing to God.
THE WAGES OF SIN
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord; (Rom. 6:23).
At the core of sin is rebellion against God. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and arrogance like the evil of idolatry; (1st Sam. 15:23). When we rebel against God’s commands, we are rebelling against the Life-Giver Himself. God will not let sin go unpunished. Although He may choose to delay the correction, you can be sure that the matter will be addressed. If we choose to bear our own sins, we would be choosing to suffer God’s judgment in the flames of Hell; (Rev. 20:12-15).
Believers are saved in Christ, and though we are rescued from the penalty of sin, we are not exempt from experiencing the consequences of a broken relationship with the Father. Sin puts a barrier between God and the sinner. When we return to God confessing our sins, having a repentant heart, and seeking forgiveness of our sins (Matt. 6:12), our relationship is then re-established, and we are restored to spiritual life once again.
My prayer: “May God enrich your faith, grow you spiritually to maturity, with your eyes fixed on the goal to secure the prize for which God has called you. May you be strengthened, immovable, and steadfast in the Word of God, always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
“Thank God for the wonder-working powers of the Blood of Jesus Christ!”
Sources: “Nothing But The Blood”; Discipleship Ministries; The Bible Hub.com; Got Questions.org
*None of the photos used belong to Jeanie Martin Ministries.