The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector!!!
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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 collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 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!’ 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.”……….. Luke 18:9-14
In our last study, we considered the Parable of the persistent Widow where Jesus taught us the importance of Perseverance in prayer in getting victory over Sin and every oppression from our Adversary which is the Devil. Today, Jesus spoke another parable about two men who went to Pray in the Temple but at the end of their Prayers, only one got Justified. Let us therefore pay attention that we might not fall into the unjustified group that goes to the Lord in prayer.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Here we read of a Parable which is very important for those who are pursuing Righteousness. For those who have accepted the Lord and getting increasingly sanctified in their lives. What can be say is the number one danger for those who are pursuing Holiness and a whole hearted Disciple of Jesus who has given up everything and has 100% become a Disciple of Christ? Without any doubt, the Greatest danger among other dangers that such a Believer faces is the Danger to spiritual pride. A whole hearted Disciple of Jesus can be tempted strongly by the opposite Sex in the Sexual area, by money and material things and attractions but far more than any of these is the danger to spiritual pride and spiritual arrogance and despising others and viewing others with contempt. This is the one parable that Jesus spoke specially and specifically designed for such people. As far as we know, he never spoke any parable specifically to a group of people. He spoke this parable for those who have these two characteristics namely:
(1) Those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. In order words, they have no sense of their own spiritual need. They felt there was no unrighteousness in them. These are the people who feel there is nothing wrong with them and everything is alright. There are lots of Christians and born again believers who are baptized in the Holy Spirit, pursuing holiness and Living a Godly lives who have absolutely no sense of need. They are not poor in Spirit. They are spiritually proud, therefore their Holiness is a counterfeit Holiness because genuine Holiness can be identified by one unmistakable mark which is HUMILITY. The Holier a Man becomes, the Humbler He becomes. Where our growth in Holiness is not coupled with an equal growth in Humility we can be sure that our Holiness is Counterfeit!!! This is the clearest identifying Mark of counterfeit Holiness that it is not backed up with Humility. Jesus was the Holiest Person who ever lived on Earth and He was also the Humblest Person. The two go together and they always go together. Whoever is the Holiest Man living on Earth today will also be the Humblest Man living on Earth today. It is impossible for a Man to grow in Divine Nature without growing in Humility.
Also, those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous are people who have produced their Righteousness themselves. Even if their Righteousness were produced by the Grace of God, they still take a little credit for it and that’s why they are proud. We can never take credit for something unless we have a little part in doing that thing. So many who claim credit for their Holiness are the ones who proves that it is Counterfeit. True Holiness is the work of God, even the desire that we have, it is God that works in us to will and do His good pleasure(Philippians 2:13). A true Godly person recognizes that it is God who has enabled Him to be Holy.
(2) Those who despise Others. It is always true that those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous will always view others with contempt and despise others. It is an automatic result of trusting in ourselves that we are Righteous that we look down on others who are not as Holy as we are and who don’t have victory like we have, who have not overcome anger like we have, who have not come to that dedication and sacrifice that we have come to. Maybe you have given up your job to serve the Lord full time, and you are very conscious of the Sacrifice you have made for the Lord and you are very conscious that you are a very special Servant of God and look down on others who have not made that sacrifice. Such people are not servant of God but a Pharisee. A first class Pharisee!!! The moment we begin to view another person with contempt, it maybe someone who is defeated, it could be someone who is not as dedicated as we are, whatever that difference maybe, the moment you view with contempt, you become a Pharisee. It may be true that your life is Holier than his. It may be true that you more dedicated than him. All these maybe true but when you begin to despise and view with contempt, you cease to be a Disciple of Jesus and become a Pharisee because Jesus never viewed anyone with contempt. Do you know that God does not view anyone with contempt? God value all people. It is man and Pharisees that despise. Job 36:5 says, ” Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one” The Almighty God who is the greatest and Holiest person in the universe doesn’t despise anyone. But small little creature like Pharisees despise so many others. The more we become like God, the more we will have that characteristics of God that we despise no one. Jesus was like that and a True Disciple is also like that. He does not despise for any reason. Do you look down on people because they are not as educated or civilized as you? Do you despise others because they are not as smart and intelligent as you? Let us therefore examine our lives that we might see where we fall?
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.: The Tax collectors were considered the worst of Sinners in Israel. They were considered as traitors to the Jewish nation because they support the Romans in Tax collection. The Pharisees specially despise these tax collectors because they were cheating others in many ways. It is true they were Sinners and the Pharisees compared to them were pretty more upright externally. So The Pharisees and the tax collector both went to the temple to pray. Note, Among the worshippers of God, in the church, there is a mixture of good and bad, there are some that are accepted by God, and some that are not and so it has been ever since Cain and Abel brought their offering to the same altar. The Pharisee went to the temple to pray because it was a public place, more public than the corners of the streets, and therefore he should have many eyes upon him, who would applaud his Devotion. Jesus said about the Pharisees that, ” all their works they do to be seen by men(Matt 23:5). Note, Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see everyday in church , who shall we shall not be seen in the great day at Christ’s right hand. The Tax collector went to the temple because it was appointed to be a house of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7) . The Pharisee came to the temple for compliment, but the tax collector came with a deep heart request. Now God sees with what disposition and design we come to wait upon him in prayer in the Church and will judge of us accordingly.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with HIMSELF, ‘God,”: Notice, a Pharisee always prays to Himself and not to God. In other words, when He prays, He is more conscious of what people say to his prayer than whether God is listening to Him or not. It is not a cry that comes from His Heart but words that comes from his mind to impress others that are listening. Do you do that? Pray to impress others? Do you add some sentences in your prayers so that others will say, “Wow”? Take heed lest you go home unjustified.
Notice also, He prays to Himself and said,” God”. That is to say, He calls himself, “God”. He considered Himself to be His God!!! He had no other God but Himself. He lived for himself, his life was centered all around Himself, His Righteousness was from himself and his whole world was around Himself. He was religious but not in touch with God in Heaven. He Himself was his own God. He thought He was praying to God in Heaven but He is only deceiving Himself!!!
He said, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ : One mark of a Pharisee is that He compares Himself with others and Judge others. He knows nothing about this Tax collector but He judged him. Judging others without knowing their motives or inner lives is a mark of a Pharisee. Another mark of Pharisees is great consciousness of all the good deeds that they have done. They are so conscious of all their religious activities. They speak of their fasting, their tithes, their sacrifice for the Lord, and all that they have done.
In contrast, there was this tax collector who is an obvious Sinner and despised by everyone. He was standing some distance away. He did not even feel He could draw near. He recognizes his unworthiness to draw near to God. He was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to Heaven because He felt He was such a terrible Sinner. His iniquities are gone over his head, as a heavy burden, so that he is not able to look up(Psalms 40:12). He was beating His chest and crying out from his heart. He was not praying a well worded prayer. He was simply saying, ” ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner”. I perceive He was saying, “I am the greatest Sinner in the world. I am the only Sinner!!!”. He is not conscious about the Failures of others. He is only conscious of his own Failures.
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 : Jesus says the Tax collector was justified. That is He was declared Righteous than the Pharisee. Because anyone who exalts himself and thinks He is more spiritual will be Humbled but He who humbles Himself and recognizes His Failures will be Exalted. In other words, we need constantly awareness of the Sin in our flesh. We may have overcome many Sins like anger, Sexual lust, and many others but there is still Sin in us. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We need to be discovering more Sins that will bring us to Repentance as we progress towards God. It is a constant sense Spirit of Repentance and constant sense of our own need because we see that we are unlike Jesus that makes us one whom God accepts and declare Righteous.
Dear Friend, Having seen the end result of this Parable, do you say to Yourself, “Thank God I am not like this Pharisee!!!”. The fact that You think You are better than this Pharisee Makes You also a Pharisee because You just compared yourself with Him!! You see how easy it is for us to fall into spiritual pride? This is a Sin that is Deeply rooted within Us if only we Will be honest with ourselves. So what should we do? Let us cleanse ourselves and repent deeply with tears each time we get light on ourselves. Let us always be conscious of our own need. Let us remain busy in Cleansing ourselves that we have no time to see that Failures of others. This is the way out!!! May the Lord give us Grace and wisdom to apply this Lesson to our lives(Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus