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  • Pastor Luis Cruz

How To be Right with God

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Part 14 Parable series, Luke 18:9-14

This parable answers one of life’s greatest questions, “How can I be right with God?” Man has been struggling with this question for thousands of years. Even the book of Job in our Bible, that is said to be the oldest Scripture, has this question, “4 How then can a mortal be righteous before God?” Job 25:4.

In the New Testament, Jesus uses the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector to teach that, on our own, we cannot be right or justified with God. Have you ever wondered; how can a person be of right standing before God? Jesus answers this question by giving us the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

1. The Pharisee:

“9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else… 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’” Luke 18:9-12.

  • Most revered, very popular, highly moral and religious.

  • Devoted to the Jewish Law.

  • Proud and self-exalting

  • Did more than the Law of God require.

  • Seeks no mercy from God.

  • Distance himself from sinners.

  • Went home unjustified before God.

2. The tax collector:

“13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” Luke 18:13.

  • He was hated by the Jews for collecting tax and giving it to the Roman government.

  • The Pharisee knew him so he must have been a local in their community.

  • He was described to be a robber, evildoer and adulterer.

  • He came to God in repentance and with a broken spirit.

  • He saw his need for God’s mercy.

  • Felt unwanted, uncared for, rejected, isolated and unworthy of God.

  • Went home justified before God.

Jesus said, “14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

3. The problem.

Proverbs 21:4, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart. The lamp of the wicked is sin.”

  • Pride is embedded in the heart.

  • Only the poor in sprit can inherit God’s kingdom.

Matthew 5:3, “3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Pride prevents a person from admitting his sins.

  • God has to break the spirit for humility to enter.

Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Leviticus 11:44-45, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. 45 I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore, be holy, because I am holy.”

  • The standard: God’s holiness.

  • The requirement: Be holy.

4. The realization:

Romans 3:10-11, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.”

  • We need to admit that we are not right with God on our own.

  • We need to accept Jesus by faith to become right with God.

Romans 3:22-23, “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

  • God is the only One who can justify and save.

Matthew 19:25-26, “Who then can be saved?”26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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