We are justified by God, by what Christ has done on the Cross. Not because of our works but in spite of them.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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.’
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.’
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.”
“God, I thank you that I am not like that Pharisee, a hypocrite, self-righteous and so judgmental towards others. Thank you that I am so humble and merciful and non-judgmental towards others.” While I may have not prayed that prayer, I certainly have (at some level of consciousness) thought along those lines. I have fallen to the same trap that the Pharisee had. Comparing myself to someone else, putting myself above them, and looking inward for justification.
The gospel message is profound. It is brutal but beautiful. When I’m tempted to look inward for justification, I just need to read the Word. By reading the Word I know that there is no one righteous, not even one, and that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I know I’m not made righteous by following the law. I know that the law has made me conscious of sin, shows me how far I’ve fallen and how badly I have missed the mark. But even though I know the law, the good that I want to do I don’t do and the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?!
God did. He had a plan before he even created us. God gave his only Son as a sacrifice to pay for my sins. He made Him who had no sin to be sin for me, so that in Him I may become the righteousness of God. The love that God has for us and the price He had to pay for it makes me cry. When I was in Bible School a professor asked the question from us what we thought was the greatest miracle in the Bible. We offered different answers from the virgin birth to the resurrection. While he agreed that these were all amazing miracles, to him, the greatest one was that “God died.”
You could hear a pin drop while we let that sink in. How can God, the creator of the universe, who was and is and always will be, who has been before the beginning of time, who is all powerful and above all things – die?! For me?! As a sacrifice for my sins? So I can be made righteous?! How can I think that somehow my good deeds would help pay that price?! Isn’t the death of God enough?!
Head: When you have the Spirit of Jesus in you, He will work through you if you allow it, and your life will produce His fruit.
Heart: Examine your heart. Do you sometimes take credit of His work in your life?
Hands: Make it a habit to humble yourself and give God the glory for every good deed you do and every good thing in your life.
Prayer: Father I thank you for Your sacrifice, that allows me to be your child and call you “Abba”, Father. Forgive me for the times that I look down on others and think that I am somehow better and more righteous. I’m sorry that by doing that I cheapen the sacrifice You made on the cross. I pray that You use my life to serve others around me. Help me never to take credit or become proud of Your good works in me. To You be the glory forever and ever, Amen.
A song to listen to: When I survey
Petrina Rangiawha – Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina