Ephesians 4:4-6, One Spirit who helps us in prayer, the Pharisee and the Publican, part 4.
length: 81:22 - taught on Nov, 22 2020
Sunday November 22,2020
And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 "The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' 13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."
Any man who truly comes into contact with God must become humble. “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”
We are surrounded in this world by many things in which our love for them leads us to sin. However, it is not the love of things that is the great problem. It is the love of self that is the great problem. We must completely detach ourselves from self - the old self.
It is by faith and growth that we detach ourselves from self. Awareness and understanding come with learning doctrines and applying them by means of the HS.
We cannot force ourselves to be humble. Humility is the result of our coming into contact with God and remaining in it by walking with Him throughout life.
Human nature displays itself in religion as in everything else with which men have to do. The men who in the ordinary walks of life seek a cheap success carry their slothful ambition into religion, and crave an eminence that cost them little. The shallow characters that are content to have the appearance without the reality, reputation without worth, applause without much wilderness sufferings, priority and high station without superior excellence, are content to be accepted as godly, although void of its power.
We have to be like Christ through and through, inwardly and outwardly. For this, we must be in constant contact with our Father in heaven. Consistently learning His word, every day living His word, and every day consistently praying to Him for insight in our journey and for to help others in theirs.
The Pharisee has only personal ambition to the exclusion of God and other men.
Worldly ambition is a false standard.
Anxious for credit in life, for being righteous or anything else, we focus on the outward appearance and neglect the heart. The Pharisee works very hard on his outward purity while he carries a dark heart within himself. He does not examine his heart or attempt to wash it. He is careless about the state of his inner man.
The idea grows that good actions make a good man, and it is forgotten that unless the man is good the actions cannot be. The tree must be good in order to produce good fruit.
The one body of Christ is not concerned with superficial purity, but purity of heart that only comes from the one Spirit and one faith.
So often in church history, Christian religion has been believed to be this way, superficial appearance of righteousness, while the heart’s condition is all but ignored. The body and the heart both belong to God. We must render to God what is His. If the condition of the inner man is ignored, Christians (if they are) find no need to draw near to God so that in fellowship with the light they may find the way of holiness and blamelessness within mind, spirit, soul, and heart.
Think of a sailing vessel. We are not to be tossed here and there by waves in Eph 4. The spirit of man (a type for spirit is breath or wind) is like the sails that catch the wind. What drives you? The mind is like the rudder. What heading do you purpose to take? The soul is like the keel. Are you strong enough to handle the pressure of the sea and maintain the proper speed? The heart is like the cargo in the hold. What is the whole purpose of your journey?
The religious Christian concerned only with outward appearance and opinion, unconcerned with the strength and wisdom from the Holy Spirit in the inner man, is like a pretty sailing ship that has a loose rudder, torn sails, weak keel, and nothing in the hold worth transporting. When the storms come, he will collapse and sink.
God desires us to really live and not just superficially. He has given the power and wisdom to do so to every man.
An obvious religion finds routines of observances which can be performed irrespective of character, by good men and bad men alike.
The great end of Christianity is to make men like Christ, like God. There is no other purpose to it. So, a Christianity that neglects the purity and holiness of the soul and heart is a front for something else.
To make religion consist in repeating prayers, observing fasts, attending ordinances, upholding rites, is to reduce it to a pernicious, misleading, deadening, worse than useless burden, which reasonable men must and ought at once to avoid. Yet Satan has been successful as promoting a picture to the world just like this as what is Christianity. We are to be men and women of a certain type, Christ, not actors of a perceived religious system.
The Pharisee is convinced that he has attained the summit of human excellence because he fasts twice a week and tithes.
The study of the Pharisee is more important to the doctrine of prayer than we think.
The God of the Pharisee is not the loving Father of all men, but a distant, self-seeking Sovereign who must be propitiated by rites and ceremonies and sacrifices, and who cares little for the love of men and has little interest in their genuine spiritual growth. If that were the actual case, what would be the point about praying to Him continually for our actual desires?
And as they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 And being reminded, Peter said to Him, "Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered." 22 And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. 23 "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. 24 "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you. 25 "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.
Faith to move mountains - an idiom: to do the impossible, which is to bear the fruit of God in our own lives.
The withered fig tree represents Israel who had produced no fruit and God judged her. Then Jesus told His disciples that they could have faith to move mountains, which is an idiom to do the impossible. What is the impossible? Bearing the fruit of God in their own lives, and for that they would have to be greatly changed and for that they would have to pray and have great faith to believe that God alone could bring it to pass. And, being in need of astounding forgiveness themselves, if they refused to forgive others, they would be judged and end up withered like the fig tree.
The God of the Pharisee is not the God. Our Father is loving, close, in us, and cares for our interests and is Himself interested in each of our spiritual growths.
The Pharisee’s religion is a tax paid to God. Such a religion also stunts his humanity. Instead of softening him and widening his sympathies and expanding his heart and his life by the consciousness that God is his and will control the future, it contracts and hardens his whole nature. He actually increases in his despising of others.
One of the chief elements in true growth is growth in love. No man is growing who is not growing in sympathy, compassion, and charity.
Remember, Christ warned, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” All of us have to be warned of this repeatedly. If you are striving to be Christ-like, but find yourself in a self-satisfied comparison with those who do not carry so many of the external marks of religion as you do, but they might at any time surpass you in generosity, in honor, in kindness, even in consciousness of sin, you have walked onto dangerous ground and infected with the leaven of the Pharisees.
Bible study and prayer are not duties to be done, but to be done for the sake of the result they were designed for, transforming us into little Christs.
When we look to the duties more than we do to the spirit and motive from which they spring, the leaven of the Pharisees is infecting us. It can happen to us all. We must be washed of it immediately.
The common people hated the Pharisee. Watching him enter the Temple or synagogue every day in his pompous and self-satisfied way, they secretly abhorred him while fearing to express it. The Lord had no such fear and publicly exposed them. Jesus’ portrayal of the Pharisees prayer would have rung true to everyone listening, except for the Pharisees themselves.
On the other hand, the publican is depicted as so occupied with his own sinful state that he cannot think of other men. His religion is not founded on him and other people, but him and God and his conscience sinks in shame before perfect holiness. He will not come near, nor will he even lift up his eyes as he beats his breast. He can only speak:
'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'
His sin is past apology, extenuation (mitigation or excuse), or explanation. He has nothing else to say but that he is a man in a sinful state. All of us are enough that we can surmise the same condition.
The publican knows that he has nothing to offer God. Mercy is the only attribute of God that he dare appeal to.
He does not buoy himself up with any remembrance of alms-deeds or prayers of the past, not with the promise of improvement. He knows it is vain to disguise what he is. He doesn’t try to give an account of it. He can but utter one cry.
The doctrines of the faith are to be lived. When life meets the doctrines, meaning, your own choices and walk in life are continuously measured by the doctrines of truth, life becomes a teacher of penitence. Elaborate doctrinal instruction will only produce Pharisees when the instructed do not attempt with all their heart and strength to live the truth; walking in a manner worthy of their calling.
Do not think that the parable is teaching us to never conquer sin or never mature enough so that sin becomes infrequent. We are called to holiness and obedience. Every parable has one message, not many.
The one message here is that life is before God and not men.
Psa 16 A Mikhtam of David.
1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in Thee.
2 I said to the Lord, "Thou art my Lord;
I have no good besides Thee."
3 As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their libations of blood,
Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.
5 The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
Thou dost support my lot.
6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
7 I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
8 I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fulness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
Before God, one faces infinite holiness and his prayer is one of great humility. Before men one turns proud and his prayer is one of ambition and false standard.
Before God we must face the truth. We are nothing and God is everything. And if it were not for the sacrifice of Christ, we would be worse off than being nothing, judged forever in our sins.