Sabbath, October 31, 2009
“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land:… Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness;…” Deuteronomy 9:5, 6.
1. To whom did Jesus direct the parable of the two worshippers? What kind of righteousness did the Pharisee have? What similarities to this parable are visible today?
Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.
“The Pharisee goes up to the temple to worship, not because he feels that he is a sinner in need of pardon, but because he thinks himself righteous and hopes to win commendation. His worship he regards as an act of merit that will recommend him to God. At the same time it will give the people a high opinion of his piety. He hopes to secure favor with both God and man. His worship is prompted by self-interest. –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 150.
2. Although both were worshipers of God and both went to the same temple, how did they differ outwardly?
Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
“For each of the classes represented by the Pharisee and the publican there is a lesson in the history of the apostle Peter. In his early discipleship Peter thought himself strong. Like the Pharisee, in his own estimation he was ‘not as other men are.’ When Christ on the eve of His betrayal forewarned His disciples, ‘All ye shall be offended because of Me this night,’ Peter confidently declared, ‘Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.’ Mark 14:27, 29. Peter did not know his own danger. Self-confidence misled him. He thought himself able to withstand temptation; but in a few short hours the test came, and with cursing and swearing he denied his Lord.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 152.
3. What does the Bible reveal about the Pharisees? How did Jesus regard the publicans?
Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Matthew 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Luke 5:30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
4. What characterized the Pharisee’s prayer? What was his basic attitude?
Luke 18:11 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.
“And he is full of self-praise. He looks it, he walks it, he prays it. Drawing apart from others as if to say, ‘Come not near to me; for I am holier than thou’ (Isaiah 65:5), he stands and prays ‘with himself.’ Wholly self-satisfied, he thinks that God and men regard him with the same complacency.
“‘God, I thank Thee,’ he says, ‘that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.’ He judges his character, not by the holy character of God, but by the character of other men. His mind is turned away from God to humanity. This is the secret of his self-satisfaction.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 150, 151.
“Self-righteousness is the danger of this age; it separates the soul from Christ. Those who trust to their own righteousness cannot understand how salvation comes through Christ. They call sin righteousness and righteousness sin. They have no appreciation of the evil of transgression, no understanding of the terror of the law; for they do not respect God’s moral standard. The reason there are so many spurious conversions in these days is that there is so low an appreciation of the law of God. Instead of God’s standard of righteousness, men have erected a standard of their own by which to measure character.” –Faith and Works, p. 96.
5. After telling God what he had not done, what testimony did he give of himself? What do the Scriptures say about those who exalt themselves?
Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
2 Corinthians 10:12, 18 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise…. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
“He proceeds to recount his good deeds: ‘I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ The religion of the Pharisee does not touch the soul. He is not seeking God-likeness of character, a heart filled with love and mercy. He is satisfied with a religion that has to do only with outward life. His righteousness is his own–the fruit of his own works–and judged by a human standard.
“Whoever trusts in himself that he is righteous, will despise others. As the Pharisee judges himself by other men, so he judges other men by himself. His righteousness is estimated by theirs, and the worse they are the more righteous by contrast he appears. His self-righteousness leads to accusing. ‘Other men’ he condemns as transgressors of God’s law. Thus he is making manifest the very spirit of Satan, the accuser of the brethren. With this spirit it is impossible for him to enter into communion with God. He goes down to his house destitute of the divine blessing.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 151.
6. What completely different picture is seen in the publican’s attitude and prayer? How did he see himself in comparison with others?
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.
“The publican had gone to the temple with other worshipers, but he soon drew apart from them as unworthy to unite in their devotions. Standing afar off, he ‘would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast,’ in bitter anguish and self-abhorrence. He felt that he had transgressed against God, that he was sinful and polluted. He could not expect even pity from those around him, for they looked upon him with contempt. He knew that he had no merit to commend him to God, and in utter self-despair he cried, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ He did not compare himself with others.
“Overwhelmed with a sense of guilt, he stood as if alone in God’s presence. His only desire was for pardon and peace, his only plea was the mercy of God. And he was blessed. ‘I tell you,’ Christ said, ‘this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.’” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 151, 152.
7. According to Jesus’ parable, where does justification, or forgiveness, come from? What makes it possible?
Luke 18:14, first part I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other….
“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…. We must behold Christ. It is ignorance of Him that makes men so uplifted in their own righteousness. 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.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 159.
“Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without. He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory. The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.” –(Review and Herald, June 4, 1895) Messages to Young People, p. 35.
8. What principle of the heavenly kingdom makes justification possible?
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Luke 18:14 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.
Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
“Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, ‘I am saved,’ are in danger of trusting to themselves. They lose sight of their own weakness and their constant need of divine strength. They are unprepared for Satan’s devices, and under temptation many, like Peter, fall into the very depths of sin. We are admonished, ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.’ 1 Corinthians 10:12. Our only safety is in constant distrust of self, and dependence on Christ.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 155.