And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Justified Man

As a means of helping folks out, here are my sermon notes for today, Sunday March 3, 2013.  As usual, the actual preached sermon may differ from the notes.

This week, while preparing to preach, I have found myself in great reflection upon these to men and how I compare.  Too often I have found I am like the Pharisee.  It is my prayer my longing, to be broken as the tax man was.  It is good to confront you heart, for the soul benefits from it, perhaps unto eternal life.

Luke 18: 9-14  The Justified Man

Two men taking different paths, one is the broad road; the other is narrow and requires great self-abandonment.

What kind of man is the Pharisee?

            This is hard to comprehend, because we often are the Pharisee, and he is blind.  He is blind to his true condition.  He is blind to his blindness.  Time and time again his heart has been hardened by his own philosophy and theology.  He has mastered the externals while failing to have the internal questioned.

He is blind because he lacks faith. True faith comes with a brokenness of the self and an utter reliance upon God and His promises.

He is satisfied with the way life appeals to his desires; he hungers not for a world beyond the one he knows. He takes everything at face value, never thinking through the consequences of competing philosophies.  (Ex Dali Lama and meditation as a cure all) He is content with laws, rules, and external matters.

He compares himself to others.  He is always better than the next guy.  He touts his accomplishments and actually believes that he is God’s buddy or special creation.  He enjoys the sound of his own prayers; to him they are a key to the kingdom. He knows the law but never fulfills it.  He believes that he has a saving relationship with God, and yet we find his righteousness is only in himself and he therefore treats others with contempt.  The evidence against him is what he actually believes will save him.



What kind of man is the tax collector?

            The Pharisee judged himself, the tax man looked into the law and found himself a failure. The man is broken.  He trembles to even be within the walls of the sanctuary.  The walls caving in on him are not some joke, they are a fear that wherever he goes he is under the watchful eye of God and under the shadow of His fist.  This man is not someone just going through routines.  He isn’t simply making prayers of repentance.  I believe this man has tried and failed tried and failed. 

He is in agony because he can see. He sees his sin against the backdrop of a holy God, who justly should and will take out wrath upon him.  He fears God.  He fears God through and through.  He doesn’t know what to say as he prays because his thoughts race to incidents of his past, problems he faces, and with what he has done the night before.  He isn’t looking for attention because he feels so utterly obvious in his soul.  He may even imagine that all eyes are upon him, and know what he is really like.  He is suffering in his sin.  It is ever before him.  He can’t stop it. 

He knows all too well that he needs to be made right before God, but how?  He has found hopelessness in systems and religion.  He has done all that “the leaders” prescribe, and yet he knows through experience that this isn’t enough; his strength isn’t enough.  God’s hand is upon his heart.

How can he know, because if God forgives why is he constrained to repeat his offenses.  He fears that God will no longer listen.  He is lonely, as if he alone sins as he does.  He is listening for God.

His cry out to God is all he can do.  And yet in it he finds a confession, the he is not Lord, only God could be and he is guilty in need of mercy.


He Went Home Justified

            There isn’t much hope for him.  A traitor to his people is he, and the scourge of Rome. (Could this be Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10?)  Finding no hope in himself, the tax man turns to God, His judge, and finds mercy beyond human reasoning.  He leaves justified, not by a system, a list, or method.  But because he loves God more than his own sin. This is God breaking through the hardness of a heart of repeated sin.  It is Romans 1 in reverse.

By the grace of God he does not take sin lightly.  The tax man leaves justified as his concern was the inner man.  He feared the darkness of his own heart.  God speaks to those who rightly look to Him.  The pondering of the soul is the working of the Holy Spirit. 

Has God ever enabled you to consider your very soul? Ponder, seek out God.  Do not put it off.  One who puts off their own soulful needs is not truly seeking God but merely a means of self-justification.  But one who looks at Gods law and is crushed with a response of placing his only hope in the grace of Christ’s work on the cross, he is near salvation.



But Jesus is telling this parable for a reason, which is that we not be like the Pharisee, but like this second man.

God is a God who will not share His glory or let it be tarnished.  Offenses against His holiness must be met with justice.  To be holy and to ignore offenses is an offence against the office of God.  Such action would be somewhat like a judge ignoring crime, he would no longer be a fit judge.

            Jesus shows that salvation is not based upon works.  The Pharisee has many good works, and a multitude of these are from a right attitude. However he places his hope in himself.  But the tax man realizes he has nothing to offer, and there God can work. 

The man desires change and Jesus wants to grant it.  God as a master creator, as an artist paints beauty in nature by sunset, color, and change of season, he writes music where His instruments are waterfalls, birds, and rain, he is the grand scientist with physics, through gravity, chemistry with reactions such as photosynthesis, and He holds each electron in its place by mere will.  But God is truly shown in His greatest by His love for sinners.  He takes His enemies, pays their ransom, and justly sanctifies them as adopted sons.  A man who has left his sin to follow God at all costs is the most beautiful splendor of God’s revealed glory.

            A man cannot change on his own being.  It is a work of the cross, and a work of the Holy Spirit.  The irony of a relationship with God is that the redeemed never consider themselves worthy.  It is always a love for their benefactor, never a mutual friendship. It is always God’s work, never man’s.  God takes every tragedy and works it for the man’s good- in the glory of Christ.  God loves His people because they are the great ambassadors of His holiness. God takes a broken man, and yes He does forgive him 7 x 70, but with each step the man will see less of his own worth and more of the grace of God. God works in those who will empty themselves of all the world’s offerings and be qualified to receive this grace.  If  God is breaking a man’s heart it is His intention to fix it. If you recognize your sin, it is a grace of God.  When the graces of God begin stay in the presence of God.  Cast off you to do list and seek God’s grace, and listen. 

            Jesus words ring in this text, are you like the second man?  Are you broken?  There is hope.  The call is “Do not be like the Pharisees,” but louder still is “Come unto Me!”  If God is placing even the slightest hunger within you, follow that aroma.  Cry out, cry out do not be deceived, it is those who hunger and thirst for the kingdom that will find it.  Do not settle for substitutes of the true gospel.  Cast your life on Christ.  The tax man was looking for the approval of God, the Pharisee was desirous of the approval of men.

No comments: