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62 Luke 18.9-14

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The haughty and the Humble

Luke 18:9-14

v    Scripture tells us that salvation is by God’s grace alone

Ø     That is what the reformation was built on

§        Sola Gratia

·        But people just can’t believe it

Years ago, a major food company developed a cake mix that required only water to be added. Tests were run, surveys were made, and the cake mix was found to be of superior quality to the other mixes available. It tasted good, it was easy to use, and it made a moist, tender cake. The company spent large sums of money on an advertising cam­paign and then released the cake mix to the general market. But a funny thing happened…the product was a flop! People refused to buy the new cake mix.

The company spent millions of dollars on a survey to find out why the cake mix failed. Based on the results of this survey, the company recalled the mix, reworked the formula, and released the revised cake mix. The new cake mix required that a person add not only water, but also an egg. It sold like hot cakes and is now the standard mix formula.

You see, the first cake mix was just too simple to be believable. People would not accept it.

v    What is true of the cake mix is true of the Gospel

Ø     Eph 2:8-9 says…

§        For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast

Ø     Salvation is simple, it is a gift

§        But so many people just refuse to believe it

·        Our case in point this morning…

¨     The Pharisee in our parable

 

READ 18:10-12

Works Righteousness…

v    Here we have a Pharisee

Ø     A group that has come to be know to us as despised

§        They hated and persecuted Jesus

§        They lived in opulence while others suffered

§        They are called hypocrites and false teachers in Scriptures

·        So they are know to us as a bad example

¨     But not to the hearers of this parable 2,000 years ago!

v    To the Jew of that time, the Pharisees were the epitome of righteousness

Ø     They were the perfect example of how to live a godly life

§        So when Jesus told of a Pharisee, they thought of someone like Billy Graham

v    So here Jesus tells us of a seemingly righteous man standing in the temple explaining to God how good he is

Ø     Detailing out to God his “good works”

Ø     Standing before God on his “good works”

§        V. 12

·        Fast twice a week

¨     Even though the Law required just once a year

·        Tithe 10% of ALL he had

¨     Pharisee was going above and beyond

Ø     Law required certain things be tithed

§        This Pharisee was going beyond that

·        Down to the herbs in his garden

Ø     On the outside the Pharisee sure looked good

§        And that is what works make you look like

·        Righteous on the outside

v    Illustration: Jack Horner

In the 18th century, the Bishop of Glastonbury sent the title deeds to twelve estates to King Henry VIII as a Christmas gift.  The deeds were hidden in a pie, which was a common way of concealing things in that era, and given for delivery to the seward of Glastonbury, a man by the name of Jack Horner.

On his way to the king, Horner popped opened the pie and stole the deed to the Manor of Mells, a real “plum” of an estate. Thus, when the delivery was complete, it appeared as though the manor was a gift for a job well done. The King assumed that the bishop had given it to him and the bishop assumed that the King had given it to him. Jack Horner had fooled everybody into thinking he was rewarded for a job well done.

Ø     Perhaps you have heard the story before in another form…

§        Little Jack Horner sat in the corner

§        Eating his Christmas pie,

§        He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum

§        And said "What a good boy am I!"

v    You see…

Ø     That is where depending on good works leads

§        To “Jack Horner Syndrome

·        Pointing to your works instead of to Christ and saying

¨     “What a good boy am I!”

v    That is where the Pharisee was

Ø     Pointing to his good works for his salvation

§        But that is a trap

·        For it leads to a very dangerous place…

Leads to Self-Righteousness…

v    Look at what the Pharisee says in V. 11

Ø     “He is not like other men, robbers, evildoers, adulterers”

§        Why is it when we think of our own sinfulness

·        We always compare our sins to the  “top 10” type of sins…

¨     “At least I don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, (fill in the blank)

·        Or when we compare ourselves to people, it is always the worst…

¨     “At least I’m not a Hitler, Stalin, PolPot, Bundy, Dahlmer, Gacy

Ø     Always promoting ourselves by demoting others

v    The Pharisee does this very thing by looking over at the Tax Collector and saying…

Ø     V. 11 ~ ‘At least I am not like this tax collector’

Ø     But, according to Scripture, who are we to compare ourselves to?

§        Only one person…Jesus Christ

·        Whose ways are we to follow?

¨     John 13:15

Ø     I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you

·        Who are we to keep our eyes on?

¨     Heb 12:2

Ø     Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith

·        Who are we to be like?

¨     1 John 2:6

Ø     Whoever claims to live in (Christ) must walk as Jesus did

v    When we reorient and start comparing ourselves to Jesus Christ

Ø     It leads us to one conclusion…

§        We have no righteousness before God

Leads to No-Righteousness

v    You see…

Ø     When we start comparing ourselves to Christ

§        It leads us to grasp the truth of what Paul wrote in Rom 3:10-12

·        There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.

v    And that, people of God, is the correct starting place for repentance and salvation

Ø     And that is where we find the Tax Collector beginning

§        Look at V. 13


 

No-Righteousness…

v    The tax collector realizes his position before a Holy God

Ø     Look at where he is…

§        He stands at a distance

§        The tax collector stands far off knowing his unworthiness

·        Whereas the Pharisee is confident in his worth

¨     The Pharisee went right up to the alter of sacrifice

¨     He went right up to the front

¨     He walked right into the presence of God on his own merit

v    The tax collector realizes his guilt and shame before a Holy God

Ø     Look at where the tax collector’s eyes are…

§        He looks down at the ground

§        He recognizes his guilt

Ø     Illustration: Dateline program:

§        To catch a Predator

·        All men when interrogated could not look the police in the eyes

·        They looked down when answering questions

¨     The tax collector realizes his guilt…

Ø     Whereas the Pharisee recognizes his righteousness

v    The tax collector realized his need before a Holy God

Ø     Look at what he says…

§        Beating his chest in sorrow…

·        “Have mercy on me, a sinner”

§        GK = 4 words translated (ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ)

·        Hilastheti moi tow hamartolo

¨     Literally, “Make propitiation for me, the sinner”

§        In this we realize 2 things about the Tax collector

·        First, he uses the definite article “The” not “A”

¨     He believes himself to be “the” sinner

¨     Chief among sinners

Ø     Something that Paul recognized when writing to Timothy (1:15)

§        Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst

Ø     Something that we all have to recognize for the gospel to become real to us

Ø     Something we each have to come to terms with in order for the good news to be really GOOD!

·        Secondly, the tax collector is asking for God to avert his anger

¨     GK “Hilastheti” translated ‘have mercy on me’

¨     “Make propitiation for me”

Ø     Propitiation is a word that is not used today

Ø     A great, deep theological word

§        Means to avert anger

·        You see…

¨     The tax collector realizes that his sin angers God

¨     And that anger has to go somewhere

v    Have you ever heard the idiom, “He has a Sword of Damocles hanging over him?”

Ø     Turn Overhead on

It comes from the 4th century BC…

King Dionysius, who had seized power in the city of Syracuse, overheard the young man named Damocles envying his position and good fortune.

"Very well," said the ruler. "If you think my position is so enviable, you may change places with me for a day."
As the overjoyed Damocles sat feasting in the palace, he happened to glance upward and was horrified to see a heavy razor-sharp sword hanging above him by a single horsehair.

"Are you surprised?" said Dionysius. "I came to power by violence, and I have many enemies. Every day that I rule this city, my life is in as much danger as yours is at this moment."

v    To have a “sword of Damocles” hanging over you is to feel a certain impending doom, a sense of eventual certain disaster which will inevitably befall you

Ø     That is exactly how the tax collector felt about his sin

§        He took it so seriously

§        He beat his chest in repentance and felt…

·        That unless God turned away his wrath

·        That unless God intervened

·        That unless God did something to deal with his sin…

¨     He would die in it and be lost…

Ø     That the razor-sharp sword of Damocles would fall on him

Ø     In a very real sense, that is true of mankind

§        In fact, to make it even more personal…

·        Each and every person sits in Dionysius’ throne

¨     With that heavy razor-sharp sword ready to fall on them

Ø     To punish them for their sins

 

Leads to Grace Righteousness…

v    But then God did an amazing thing

Ø     He did not leave us to sit there in our sin

Ø     He did not leave us to stare afraid and anxious at that sword above our heads

§        He stepped into time and stepped into our place under the sword

·        And the horsehair broke…

¨     And he took the punishment that we deserved

Ø     Took that deadly sword thrust that we deserved

§        That is the grace-based righteousness that the tax collector sought

·        That is the grace-based righteousness that Jesus Christ wrought

v    It is the great relief that Rom 3:21 brings us!

Ø     But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known…This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.

Leads to God-Righteousness…

v    And that is God-Righteousness

Ø     Righteousness in God’s eyes is not…

§        Standing not on our own merits

§        Our own works

§        Our own feeble accomplishments

·        But on the blood that flows from the throne of Grace

¨     The blood of Jesus Christ

Ø     Phil 3:7-9

§        But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

 

v    Ultimately…

Ø     Here’s the question that this texts asks each and every one of us…

§        Do you come before the throne of God with a list of works in your hand?

§        Do you come before the throne of God telling him all the things that you have done?

§        Do you come before the throne of God comparing yourself to others?

v    Or do you come before God empty handed…

Ø     Beating your chest in repentance

§        And standing on the only spot in the whole universe that can save your eternal soul

·        On that pool of Jesus Christ’s blood that flows from the throne of Grace


v    Conclusion

Ø     Sword of Damocles

Ø     Damocles was an excessively flattering courtier in the court of Dionysius I of Syracuse, a 4th Century BC tyrant of Syracuse, Italy. He exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune.

Ø     In the evening a banquet was held, where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a heavy razor-sharp sword hanging by a single piece of horsehair directly above his head. Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and entertainment and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.

Dionysius, who had seized power in the city of Syracuse, overheard the young man Damocles envying his good fortune. "Very well," said the ruler. "If you think my position is so enviable, you may change places with me for a day."

As Damocles sat feasting in the palace, he happened to glance upward and was horrified to see a sharp sword hanging above him by a single thread. "Are you surprised?" said Dionysius. "I came to power by violence, and I have many enemies. Every day that I rule this city, my life is in as much danger as yours is at this moment."

If you are familiar with allusions to the "sword of Damocles," you may know that to feel that the sword of Damocles is hanging over you is to have a sense of anxiety, of impending doom.

The reference is to a story recounted by the Roman writer Cicero in the first century B.C. Damocles was a courtier in Syracuse during the reign of a powerful tyrant named Dionysius. Tired of hearing his young courtier go on and on about how wonderful the life of a ruler must be, Dionysius decided to teach Damocles a lesson. Damocles was treated to a lavish banquet in which he was to experience what it really felt like to be a ruler. In the midst of the festivities, he noticed a sword suspended overhead by a single horsehair. Damocles' resulting anxiety was similar to the worries and responsibilities that go along with the pleasures of a ruler's position. With a better understanding of Dionysius' life, Damocles became more content with his own role as an attendant to the ruler.

Ø      

Ø     The Sword of Damocles is a frequently used allusion to this tale, epitomizing the imminent and ever-present peril faced by those in positions of power.

v    2 comments:

Ø     You should feel like a sword is hanging over your head when you sin

§        That is how you should feel

Ø     You should know that the king of kings has taken your place

§        That is what you should know

·        Jesus is your propitiation

The reference is to a story recounted by the Roman writer Cicero in the first century B.C. Damocles was a courtier in Syracuse during the reign of a powerful tyrant named Dionysius. Tired of hearing his young courtier go on and on about how wonderful the life of a ruler must be, Dionysius decided to teach Damocles a lesson. Damocles was treated to a lavish banquet in which he was to experience what it really felt like to be a ruler. In the midst of the festivities, he noticed a sword suspended overhead by a single horsehair. Damocles' resulting anxiety was similar to the worries and responsibilities that go along with the pleasures of a ruler's position. With a better understanding of Dionysius' life, Damocles became more content with his own role as an attendant to the ruler.

If you are familiar with allusions to the "sword of Damocles," you may know that to feel that the sword of Damocles is hanging over you is to have a sense of impending doom.

v    It leads us to say things like

Ø     My heart is deceptive above all things and cannot be trusted (Jer 17:9)

v    It leads us to ask questions like

Ø     Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? (Job 4:17)

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