The Publican and the Pharisee Part 2

Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon 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 every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Mankind is consistently trying to trust in themselves and it’s the trust that man wants to put in himself is the reason why Jesus gave this parable. This is the reason why this parable is spoken. To have control of your own life and to drive your own car gives a sense of security when you are in control and it’s embedded in every one of us. To trust ourself, just a little bit at least I can control. Because man continues to trust in himself this parable gets turned upside down. The heart is deceitfully wicked above all things who can know it? Jesus gives a parable of the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisee trusted in the things that he was and wasn’t and then Jesus gives the publicans experience. The publican has no reason to present himself to God. Out of these two men the publican went to his house blessed and the Pharisee didn’t. The publican was the person who was good and the Pharisee bad and therefore we want to be the publican. It is human nature. Even if you are the vilest person you still want to be good. This parable gets turned upside down.

The Upside down Parable

Many trust in themselves but think they are the publican and not the Pharisee.

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

In the parable the publican is very sensible of his sin. He senses his sin and the effect of sensing his sin was coming to God and saying God be merciful to me a sinner. If he wasn’t sensible of his sin he wouldn’t have gone there to pray. Because our hearts are deceitful above all things and we trust in ourselves we decide to be a Pharisee dressed up as a publican. We come to God and we say the prayer of the publican as a charm but there is a twist that modern Pharisees do according to this.

Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Be Merciful to Me That I’m Not a Pharisee

The twist that we put on it is God be merciful unto me as I am very humble. I have done wrong and I am very sensible of my wrong and because of that be merciful unto me or that I’m not a Pharisee. This is not part of the prayer of the publican. He did not give any reason why God should be merciful unto him. He didn’t say be merciful as I’m bewailing my sins and because of this be merciful unto me. There is a trusting in our sense of being a publican. If I sense that I’m a publican, well therefore I deserve mercy because I don’t fast twice in the week or tithe and I am an extortioner and an adulterer. Do we have a claim upon God because we sin? Is that our claim? Does committing a sin make the grace abound? This is what many people think. But if the prayer was be merciful to me because I am a sinner, this would show the publican a Pharisee in heart.


The publican went down to his house justified. Justification requires something.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Justified by sin, feeling really bad? This scripture gives us the criteria that is needed in order to be justified and that is faith. To think that an awful sense of sin gives me a claim or right to forgiveness is just as much work as thinking my works give me a claim to forgiveness. If that was the case then this would give a premium to the worse sins that you could ever do. If you thought in your mind hatred toward your brother, are you a murderer? According to the scripture are you a murderer? If you went to your brother and you literally slit his throat, which has a greater sense of the murder? When we go into doing it then you can really bemoan doing it. Can you really feel so sorry for such a thought as hating your brother? If we need such a deplorable feeling in a base situation then it would be well for us to do the most grotesque things we could do. There is a thought that repentance must be easier if you do something really bad as you can repent easier. Many young people go deep into sin thinking if I go into the world then I can feel really sorry for myself and if feel really sorry for myself then I can come back to God like the publican but this is like the Pharisee trusting in his works.

Philippians 3:19 Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

The publican in the parable was not thinking of his extortion or his adulterous actions, he was thinking about the mercy of God. The Pharisee was thinking on earthly things.

They Glory in Their Shame

There are a people who are lost who glory in their shame. Many people have gone into terrible things whether it’s right such as into the drug world and they come out of it and they say they did all things and the Lord brought them out and everyone says wow. Why is it so wow? Because of what they did. This parable gets tipped on its head and its God I thank you that I’m an extortioner and adulterer as now you can forgive me. There is a boasting in how much sin people do. When the basket lunch is on at church the young people sit around and talk about the bad things they did and the worse the sin the better the person thinks they are. We must not dream that greater sins make it easier to repent. To mind earthly things, to glory in shame, to bemoan our situation and in that bemoaning think well at least I’m in a good situation. Can you see how it happens? To feel bad and say at least I’m humble. Pride is still there. How do I know if I’m still doing that? The heart is so deceitful and we don’t know we are being Pharisees.

How Do I Know If I’m a Pharisee?

How do I know that I’m a Pharisee if I can’t connect myself with one? Jesus said this parable was given for those that trusted in themselves that were righteous and despised as others. How do you know if you are a Pharisee dressed up as a publican?  If you despise others and thank God that I’m more humble than other people and I repent twice a week and I give God all my thank offerings as he is so good as he forgave me. The mind may say what is wrong with that?. There is something wrong. The Pharisee offered God a thank offering as he was thankful to God. He said God I thank you. His thanks were directed to God. The Pharisee that has dressed up as a publican who has done terrible things will also thank God. But thanks to God alone isn’t thanks to God.

Two Brothers

There were two brothers. One was named Cain and the other Abel. Cain brought an offering to God. Was it lawful offering? It was. God required the first fruits of your produce but it was a thank offering. Cain brought a thank offering to God. A thank offering alone is not a thank offering because that thank offering didn’t stop him despising his brother.  Just because he was thankful to God he could still despise his brother.

No man can of himself understand his errors. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The lips may express a poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness. In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. {COL 159.1}

While the lips are speaking to God there may be a poverty of spirit, I’ve been such a bad person, I’ve done all these things wrong, and I’ve failed here and there. That’s what the lips are saying but the heart is swelling with its superior humility and exalted righteousness. We are to behold Christ not our sin. If you have sinned are you to dwell upon it till it makes you feel bad? Do you think God can then forgive as I feel bad? That is trusting in self. By faith we are justified. Does faith have feeling? If you think a bad thought against your brother can you still ask for forgiveness or do you have to have a feeling first?

In one way only can a true knowledge of self be obtained. We must behold Christ. {COL 159.1}

As we look to God’s mercy and not to what we have done, although we are to acknowledge what we have done, we are not to dwell upon it and use that reason why we should come before God. There is only one reason why.

The Underserved Favour Of Jesus Christ

It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness {COL 159.1}

One can say they have poverty of spirit but at the same time the heart is exalted of self righteousness. How can someone who has sinned badly go to God in prayer and feel righteous? It happens. We don’t know it as the heart is deceitful above all things. The test lies in our own mind occupation when we have done wrong and also our treatment of our brethren.

When we contemplate His purity and excellence, we shall see our own weakness and poverty and defects as they really are. We shall see ourselves lost and hopeless, clad in garments of self-righteousness, like every other sinner. We shall see that if we are ever saved, it will not be through our own goodness, but through God’s infinite grace. {COL 159.1}

There is a realising of how bad you are but the understanding needs to be clear that realising it doesn’t give you the right for forgiveness. That is not why you come to God. It is not what the publican said in his prayer. He said God be merciful to me a sinner. He did not trust even his own guilt.  If we don’t sense we are not guilty are we guilty? The degree of feeling has nothing to do with being forgiven. If it did that would give license to the worst sins because then you would really feel it. Our understanding of ourselves if we are publicans or Pharisees is not so much on our lip service to God of prayer but it lies in whether we despise others or not. What does manifest mean? Brought to light, made visible.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

In that verse there are two tests. One that doesn’t do righteousness. Evil doing is wrong and always will be and doing evil doesn’t make it easier to repent but makes it harder to repent. These are the tests. You may not feel righteous, you may feel miserable but do you love your brother?

Do You Love Your Brother?

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

3:12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

What was so evil about bringing a thank offering to God? He was thankful but a thank offering without Jesus Christ is not thanks. If someone gave you something and you said thanks and they left and you put it in the cupboard and didn’t use it, were you really thankful? Have you ever received a present for your birthday and said thank you so much and thought I didn’t want that, it’s horrible. That is what Cain and the Pharisee and a Pharisee dressed up as the publican did. True thankfulness is if someone gave you a present and you didn’t say thank you but you were used it continuously. Does that person know you were thankful? Absolutely. If you are thankful to God then give him your body as an offering. The life is required otherwise if the life isn’t given then the thank offering isn’t a thank offering at all. Are you thankful for your food? Do you say thank you? Give him your life. That is thankfulness. That is thank you to God. When we drink water do you ever say thank you? Imagine if we prayed every time we ate and drank but not just lip service of thanks but saying take my heart. If I’m not giving myself, I’m not really thankful. If we did this every time, we would be dying daily.

1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death.

3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

3:16 Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.

3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

This shows us that whosoever hates his brother is a murderer. Have you murdered lately? If you literally murdered, how quick would you be to repent of that? If you would be quick to repent of murder in the physical, but not in the spiritual then you are despising others and it is the Pharisee in the publicans clothes because which is greater? Murder or murder? One has definitely bigger social ramifications but concerning the judgment of Gods law which is greater? They are the same. If I can’t conjure that feeling up if I literally murdered someone, then how can I ask for repentance? I don’t have a sense of feeling guilty in hating my brother. I don’t feel like its murder. Do we feel like it is? We don’t. We don’t need to feel the same feelings if we literally killed someone. If we sense that we don’t have a sense then that sense of not having any sense is the sense you go to God with. I must be a Pharisee Lord, I can’t even trust my senses. According to your law this is wrong. Then by faith we can go to God not relying on our feeling or our sense but upon his mercy..

There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable. {COL 154.4}

Do we have to go into gross sins to be forgiven the most?  There is a story where Jesus says there was a man who owed 50 dollars and another owed 5000 dollars. Both were forgiven. Who loved more? The one who owed the most. What according to this is the worst sin? The sin that comes from not sinning. That sin is the worst from them all. We don’t have to engage in any sin. We can be like Samuel or Daniel who lived the most temperate or holy life and come before God and have the biggest debt although we haven’t been adulteress or extortioners. Whether my feeling is as bad as those on death row or what ever they have done is not the issue. Because we cannot trust that sense and because the lack of sense is often the worst then we can agree with ;

No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul. {COL 159.3}

It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely. {COL 159.4}

If we have committed great sins and whether that great sin is in the spiritual or physical when we don’t trust our sense and hang onto the guilt before we can feel forgiven, there comes this freedom, this freedom that comes from nothing you’ve done.  It almost feels unjust that I’ve not repented enough. How can God forgive me? I know I’ve done wrong, I don’t want it, I tell God that but I’ve not hung onto the feeling enough. When we get rid of that we come into a freedom that gives immense power. That man went down to his house justified. When we have had such an experience Isaiah 51 becomes real;

Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness [is] near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

Whose righteousness? His righteousness.  Where is their trust? On their feelings? Repenting enough, climbing stairs on your knees? Really suffering?

Isaiah 51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

When we experience such justification that we have no part in, none of my feelings have had anything to do with this forgiveness only my willingness to receive of God and allow him, just to let, then why would you be afraid of anyone if they hurt your feelings if you got revilings or threatened? Would you be afraid of such things? The reason why others despise others as others hurt them. Although Cain was giving a thank offering to God it didn’t dissolve the problem as he still despised others. To be able to love even if they hurt your feelings because feelings don’t have anything to do with anything. I don’t trust in anything only the mercy of God. Does it change from day to day? When someone says something does that change the mercy of God? If it doesn’t then why should we change?

Psalms 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

Who is our defense? God is our defense and does our defense come and go with how we feel? Never it does. While ever we receive him he is ours and if he is ours he is our defense and if he is my defense I can always be happy whatever comes to me as I will never despise anyone as self is all gone and the parable is not turned upside down.

The Power of God unto Salvation

May we experience this justification which is phenomenal. It is amazing. It is the power of God unto salvation. The Apostle Paul was a murderer but when it came to the work of the Lord, was he offended all the time? If there was some fighting in the church and some didn’t like him you know what they would have told him? He was a murderer before. They would have cut with words. Nothing can separate from the love of God. He would have repented from being self sufficient but nothing can separate from the love of God. People bashed and hit him and he powered on. Who is he that condemneth? It is God that justifieth. Shall anyone lay anything to the charge of Gods elect. There is no cut or wounds because Christ justified and self is dead. If something hurts you, you are still alive. An arrow doesn’t hurt a dead man. May we be protected from all the assaults and never despise anyone.


Further reading;

Part 1

Posted on May 13, 2010, in Prayer Meeting Sermonettes, Sermons For Sabbath, The Leaven of the Pharisees and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: