In Luke 18:9-14 We see our first point.
Luk 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- True Faith is Humble Repentant Faith –
In this parable we have a major contrast in what true faith is. Jesus is teaching His disciples and us the nature of Hypocrisy. What’s neat about this parable is not only do we see what true faith looks like but we also have an example of what true faith doesn’t look like.
There are two men in this parable. One a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee is the one who everyone thought had true faith, but we learn it is actually the tax collector that did.
Both men go up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee seemingly looks around and decides that He is better than everyone there so He stands by himself in an act of arrogance. He then proceeds to pray to God and thank Him that He is not like the other people, SINFUL. He then reminds God of all the good he does. This Pharisee had faith in himself. He trusted in His own goodness and in His own good works to go to heaven. He commends himself to God.
Pharisee’s back in Jesus day were the ones who were what I would call “middle class religious people”. Some of course were wealthy. But a lot were just your average Joe. Many were involved in other trades, but were zealous about their religion.
Ironically the Judaism of their day was made up of a lot of rules. Rabbi’s throughout the years had taken the laws that God had commanded in the OT and interpreted them by adding lots of rules. They had made it more of a legalistic formula to following God than a heart attitude of faith. The irony is, is that it is the very Law of God that is to show us our sin and our need for a savior. The tax collector got that. He wasn’t comparing himself to other men, rather He was comparing himself to God and His Word.
The tax collector realizes his own inadequacies, his own failures to keep the law, and thereby realizes his need for a savior. We read that the tax collector is standing far off. I think this is different than Luke just telling us He was standing alone. I think Luke is telling us that the Tax collector felt a sense of unworthiness. He didn’t see himself as worthy to come near to the temple. He didn’t see himself worthy of drawing near to God.
In fact Luke says He couldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven. He felt too unworthy to look to God.
I don’t know about you, but if you’re like me, you’ve probably messed up once or twice in your life. Done something that you are ashamed of? Where you have to go to someone and repent of that. It’s not easy is it? I find that when I do go to that persons and tell them it is really hard for me to look them in the eyes. I don’t want them to see my shame.
I think that’s what the tax collector is feeling here. He is in utter shame. What does he do? Cry out to God and say, “be merciful to me, a sinner”!
This man felt the weight of His sin. He knew that His sin was an offence to a holy God and it was deserving of Death. The only thing He brought to God was humble repentance. He wasn’t wallowing in self-pity, but rather crying out to God for mercy.
And what does Jesus say about him? He went away Justified! He went away saved! It wasn’t the man who was trusting in His own works, it was the man who realized there was nothing He could do to please God and humbly repented of His sin before God and pleaded for mercy. It was that man who went home justified.
So True faith is Humble Repentant faith.
Have you ever felt the weight of your own sin? I mean really sat down and realized that your sin, that when you sin, you deserve death? That you are offending a holy God. Who justly can and should punish each of us for our own sin?
A lot of times when we talk, we talk about Jesus being our savior. Or when we share the gospel we share that Jesus is our savior. Yet, we don’t adequately explain our need for our savior.
There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, there are no good works that assure us of our salvation, It is only through Jesus that we can be saved and we desperately need that savior. Thankfully He came! Thankfully we have Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel. Without it we have no hope. True Faith comes to Jesus, humble and repentant of our sins knowing that we need a savior.
Yes this is not just a onetime act, it continues. When we become saved we repent of our sins and follow Christ as Lord and Savior, but 1 john tells us that we must also confess our sins and He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. When we become a Christian we don’t automatically stop sinning. IN fact for some it is more frustrating after you are saved because you want so bad to not sin, because you know it offends God, but you continually do sin.
True Faith continually comes to the cross and repents of sin and asks God to forgive. How great it is that we are assured that He indeed forgives us!
Next week we’ll look at point number two on our series of the Nature of True Faith.