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Thursday, June 6, 2013

God's Approval

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
Luke 18:9-12

This Pharisee is shown trying to find God's approval outside of God's grace. He tells God about all he is (and isn't) and doesn't even ask for forgiveness once.
The head pastor of my church made this list what self-righteous people do. Here it is:
  • They are confident in their own words
  • They follow a list a "dos" and "don'ts"
  • They pride themselves in their own standards
  • They place confidence in how they look or act
  • They see themselves as a model of holiness
  • They are critical and judgmental of others
  • They associate with those who are like-minded
  • They scorn those who don't promote them
  • They really believe God sees them as being spiritually superior
  • They are prideful, but cloak it with false humility
  • They are a danger to the church and evangelism
  • They demean the cross and the mercy of God
"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

The humble find their approval from God's mercy. The tax collector didn't even find himself worthy enough to look up to heaven when he prayed. His sin weighed him down and so all he asked was "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

"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

Rather than saying forgiven, Jesus said justified.

Justified- to declare innocent or guiltless; absolve; acquit.

The tax collector has a new standing before God. The tax collector is not just forgiven, he is declared innocent. He has received approval and righteousness in God's eyes.

In this parable, we see two approaches for righteousness:
  1. The "outside in" approach is where you look to righteousness on the outside so God will approve of you.
  2. The "inside out" approach is where you seek mercy and forgiveness for sin. This approach gets God's approval
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