By John Foll
“And He [Jesus] also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:” Luke 18:9 NASB. Have you met individuals who think that they are good and view others with contempt? Have you heard individuals who are quick to talk about others behind their back and hurt their reputation? Then you know those whom Jesus is addressing. Do you think that you are good? Do you have trouble protecting the feelings and reputations of others? Do people who break God’s Law or do not believe “the Truth” get you all fired up? We hope that you will keep reading this message, if any of these points hit home. Jesus’ message wasn’t just to rebuke the self-righteous, He loved these people and wanted to help them before it was too late! Can you see the love in His message here? The problem that Jesus is addressing is a very common problem in humanity. Many people have had this problem in their life at one time or another. Jesus was telling some people here that they needed to make a change if they wanted to be saved.
We took a pause from finishing this passage in Luke to contemplate Jesus’ message here. People read that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, then think that this message doesn’t apply to them, and say ‘I am glad I am not a sinner like that Pharisee’. Many people are OK with hearing a message, if they think that it applies to someone else. So think about this message, and not just jump to the conclusion that it doesn’t apply to you. Often people just read a passage, and run with what they think it means, and skip over some of what has been said. So it is beneficial to read the whole passage, and read every word of it, not skipping over parts of it, to get the whole truth, especially for parts that are often ignored. It is good to hear a startling message to help you wake up, or to hear a message stated from a different perspective, so you can be at peace.
“"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 18:10-14 NASB.
Why was the tax collector justified before God, and not the Pharisee in this account? Because he humbled himself before God and begged for His mercy! The Pharisee didn’t. ‘There is no one who does good, not even one.’ Psalm 14:3 NASB. So why wasn’t this Pharisee justified before God? Because he humbled not his heart before God, and confessed not his sin of pride and of praying unkind words towards this poor tax collector - sinner. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV. God declares through His prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 KJV. Dear reader, are you held captive by sins or bad habits? Do you want to be free? God says that if you will seek after Him with all of your heart, then you will find Him, and He will take away your captivity, and place you where you were always meant to be, with Him in Heaven as one of His sons or daughters. Jesus says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 KJV. He has provided the way, Oh sinner, if you will accept it, He will make you free indeed! What a promise!
This text shows the connection between God’s people and the humble who will inherit the earth: “For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Psalm 37:9-11 NASB. We have all been evildoers at one point in our life, but if we will humble ourselves before God and wait on Him, He will help us to become one of the righteous. And remember what Jesus our Savior said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”Matthew 5:5 KJV. God told Moses to tell the people before the Day of Atonement: “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 23:29 NASB. Why was that? Because the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur, represents the Day of Judgment, when the judgement takes place. All who wish to be clean before God, will humble themselves before Him, and will confess all of their sins. Those who will not humble themselves before Him, will be cut off from among His people, and will not go to Heaven to live throughout the endless ages with the peace, love, happiness and the delight of the saved. Those who refuse to humble themselves before God will be cut off from His people, and will then realize that they have made a terrible mistake! Many people have no idea what they will be missing if they fail to humble themselves before God and stay that way! Peter admonishes us: “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:1-3 NASB. The Psalmist, David says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8 NASB. Only those who have humbled themselves before God, and have tasted of the goodness to come, have a clue to the priceless treasures of peace, love, joy and delight that God wants to give His people in Heaven forever!
Consider those who have tasted of the heavenly gift: ‘those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come’ Hebrews 6:4-5 NASB: it is very hard for these to fall away and become lost.How could you walk away from the best thing that you have ever known or could know? Dear reader, have you tasted of this heavenly gift of the age to come? Do not stop humbling your heart, and seeking after God until you get it! You will never regret it, we promise you! So humble yourself before your God, whom you love, confess all of your sins, asking Him to be merciful to you a sinner, and you will go home justified before Him, and He will fill your heart with His love. And you will indeed taste and see that the Lord is good, and will get the taste of the Heavenly gift and of the good things in the age to come. This is our prayer for you! Amen.
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