Morning Bible Study
Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just
at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.
18:9-14 The Pharisee and the Sinner
:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they
were righteous, and despised others:
:9 and despised others
despised – exoutheneo – to
make of no account, despise utterly
It’s to consider someone else a “nobody”.
They are convinced that their little group is the only group that is right,
and everyone else on the planet is wrong.
In contemplating where Jesus is going with this story, I couldn’t help but
think of what we’ve seen in our nation over the last few months when it comes
I think that some of us have a sense of “self-righteousness” when it comes
to our political views.
Some of us can tend to think that anyone that disagrees with our opinions
must be an idiot. We learn to “despise”
those who disagree with us.
:9 trusted in themselves that they were righteous
Not Good Enough
When it comes to meeting God’s standards for righteousness, no single human
being is good enough.
(Isaiah 64:6 NKJV) But we are
all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade
as a leaf, And our
iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
When it comes to being a human and being able to stand as “righteous” in
the presence of God, no human can do it.
When Isaiah had a vision and found himself before God, he said,
(Isaiah 6:5 NKJV) “Woe is
me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell
in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
The consequences of my sin is separation from God.
(Romans 6:23 NKJV) For the
wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord.
As horrible as our sin is, there is an answer to our sin.
Jesus is God’s gift to us.
When Jesus died on the cross, He was acting as a sacrifice
to pay for our sins.
:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a
:10 a Pharisee
In Jesus’ day, there were several “sects” or “denominations” within
The Pharisees were the strictest sect, living a rigid life composed of
fastings, prayers, and works of charity.
They believed in the miraculous, they believed in angels, they believed in
life after death, and they believed the entire Old Testament was the Word of
Nobody worked harder at being “righteous” than a Pharisee did.
:10 a tax collector
The tax collectors were Jewish men employed by the Romans to collect taxes
from the Jews for Rome.
They were hated by the normal Jews because they were considered traitors. To the normal Jew, they were the worst of
They had sold their countrymen out to the Evil Emperor, the “dark side”.
:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that
I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax
:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed
The problem isn’t in standing.
Standing is an acceptable position for prayer. The publican will also be standing.
But while the publican is standing in the back so he won’t draw attention
to himself, the Pharisee is apparently standing in a place so others can see
(Matthew 6:5 NKJV) “And when
you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing
in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by
men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
:11 and prayed thus with himself
I like the NAS translation here:
(Luke 18:11 NASB95)
Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself…
When my heart is filled with pride, my prayers don’t get very far. I too am really just talking to myself
instead of talking with God.
In first century Judaism, people offered prayers to God for one of three
Confession of sin
Thanks for some blessing they’ve received
Petitions for self or for others.
But if you pay attention, this Pharisee’s prayer doesn’t fit any of those
descriptions of prayer.
He’s just trying to make himself look better.
He’s praying to himself.
:11 I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust…
When we compare ourselves with others we are likely to draw the wrong
Some people tend to compare themselves with others they think are better
than they are.
Their conclusion is that they are worthless and not able to be used by God.
Sometimes as a pastor, I compare myself to other pastors who have larger
churches, or more wide-ranging ministries, or who speak at large conferences,
or a myriad of ways that pastors compare themselves with each other.
The result is that I usually get quite depressed and feel
like a failure.
Some people will compare themselves with others that they think are worse
than they are.
Look at the list of people the Pharisee compares himself to.
He picks the bottom of the barrel.
“At least I’m not as bad as that guy!”
There are times as a pastor I will make myself feel better by comparing
myself to a pastor of a smaller church, or a pastor who has fallen in sin, or a
pastor who obviously doesn’t speak as well as I do or who doesn’t do Powerpoint
as awesomely as I do.
That will make me feel good, for awhile.
David N. Dinkins, then the mayor of New York , was riding through the city
in his limousine with his wife, Joyce.
Looking out the window, they recognized a man doing manual labor on the
roadside as “John,” a former suitor of Mrs Dinkins’. Seeing him, the mayor smiled a bit smugly at
“You must be so glad,” he said, “to be married to the powerful mayor in the
limo rather than to poor John shoveling alongside the road.”
His wife smiled. “If I’d married
John, he’d be with me in the mayor’s limo.”
-- Donna Britt, Pseudo-Equality, Santa Barbara News
Press, April, 1994, p. A13.
Jesus told a parable about a man who entrusted his money to his servants
while he took a business trip. (Mat. 25:14-23)
He gave one servant five bags of money, another two, and another one.
When the man returned, he rewarded each man based on what they had done
with the bags of money he had been entrusted with.
The servants weren’t judged by comparing what the other ones had done, but
judged based on what they had done with what they had been given.
If we’re going to judge ourselves correctly, we need to look at what we’ve
done with what we’ve been given, not what someone else has been given.
:12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
:12 I fast twice a week
The Law of Moses required Jews to fast once each year at Yom Kippur, the
Day of Atonement (Lev. 16).
The Pharisees took it well beyond that.
They fasted twice every week.
:12 I give tithes of all that I possess
They gave God 1/10 of everything they owned.
NKJV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe
of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters
of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without
leaving the others undone.
They would go through their spice garden and carefully count each leaf and
be sure to give God one tenth.
Jesus’ rebuke in Mat. 23 was not for tithing, but for skipping things that
were more important.
I hope you don’t feel “righteous” because of your giving to the church.
Giving ought to be done out of gratitude to God, not because we are trying
to earn brownie points with Him.
13:1–3 NKJV) —1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not
love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I
have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all
knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but
have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and
though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
If I don’t do the things I do out of love for God, I’m
wasting my time.
Frankly, God isn’t really all that impressed at the things
Does God really need your tithe when He owns the cattle on
a thousand hills? (Ps. 50:10)
What counts to God is the motive for why I do what I do.
Paul was writing to the Corinthians and telling them about the amazing
Macedonians and the way they had learned to give.
(2 Corinthians 8:5
NKJV) And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves
to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
Keep in mind, the Macedonian church was a poor
church. It was the Corinthians that were
well off financially.
It wasn’t the size of the Macedonian gift that Paul (and
God) was impressed with, but the heart behind it.
The beauty wasn’t in the child banging on the keys, but the cuteness of her
playing for daddy. It’s what dad added
that made it beautiful.
Are fasting and giving bad things?
No. They have great benefit to us
as we learn to do them.
What’s most important is our motive for doing it.
:13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his
eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
:13 God, be merciful to me a sinner!
be merciful – hilaskomai –
to appease; to be propitious, be gracious, be merciful
It’s a word that has built into it the idea of sacrifice, of blood being
spilt to pay for sins, or “propitiation”.
A related word is the one used to describe the lid of the Ark of the
Covenant, which was called the “mercy seat”, or “propitiatory”.
Once a year the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies in the
Tabernacle and sprinkle blood on top of the “mercy seat” asking for God’s mercy
for Israel’s sins.
Another related word is used to describe what Jesus has done for us:
(1 John 4:10 NKJV) In this is
love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be
the propitiation for our sins.
The Mercy Place
There is a place of mercy and forgiveness for the sinner.
It’s through the blood of Jesus that we are forgiven. It’s not by our own good deeds that we are
forgiven, but through the work that Jesus did for us on the cross.
NLT) —23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious
standard. 24 Yet God
freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through
Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God
presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when
they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…
We need to be careful when we are overwhelmed with condemnation that we
don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s up to us to get out of the
mess. Yes, we need to repent and turn
from our sins, but our forgiveness isn’t based upon what we do. It’s based on putting our faith in what Jesus
:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather
than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who
humbles himself will be exalted.”
In the end, it wasn’t the Pharisee who was right with God, but the humble
:14 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled
It’s a dangerous thing to be proud.
NKJV) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
When you walk in pride, you’re going to eventually fall on
This has been one of my concerns about Mr. Trump – what has seemed to be an
abundance of pride. Pray for Mr. Trump
When you are talented in an area, it’s not wrong to acknowledge your
talent, but to do it in a way that acknowledges that God is the one who gave
you your abilities. But sometimes you’re
not actually all that talented…
A young woman went to her pastor and said, “Pastor, I have
a terrible sin, and I want your help. I come to church on Sunday and can’t help
thinking I’m the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I ought not think
that, but I can’t help it. I want you to help me with it.”
The pastor replied, “Mary, don’t worry about it. In your
case it’s not a sin. It’s just a horrible mistake.”
-- Haddon Robinson,
"Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Us Guys," Preaching Today, Tape No. 80.
:14 he who humbles himself will be exalted
Are you looking for that place of mercy we talked about earlier?
You will only find it if you come to God in humility.
There’s a story about a coal mine disaster that came out of England over a
hundred years ago.
A coal shaft caved in and trapped many miners. The shaft was completely blocked.
Those who were in the mine gathered to a spot where the last remains of air
could be breathed. There they sat and sang and prayed in the dark because the
air was unable to support even a candle.
They were in total darkness, but a gleam of hope cheered them when one of
them said he had heard that there was a connection between that pit and an old
pit which had been worked years ago. He said it was a long passage through
which a man might get by crawling all the way, lying flat upon the ground—he
would go and see if it were passable. The passage was very long, but they crept
through it, and at last they came out to light at the bottom of the other
shaft, and their lives were saved.
-- Charles Haddon
Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
Lying flat on the ground – a picture of humility. That’s where you find the place of escape.
Mercy is available for those who are willing to humble themselves.
(1 Peter 5:5b–6
NKJV) … and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives
grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He
may exalt you in due time