April 26, 2022
“And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.” Luke 18:9
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector that Jesus tells in Luke 18:9-14 is rich in the truth about the doctrine of justification by faith. This story illustrates for us how a sinner who is completely devoid of any personal righteousness may be declared righteous before God instantaneously through the act of repentant faith.
When Jesus is telling the parable in Luke 18 His focus, His attention, His purpose in telling this is directed at the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a religious sect in Jesus’ day who were the premier authorities on the Jewish religion. Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees were orthodox. But the Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness and in their Jewishness for their salvation. This confidence in one’s own righteousness is a damning hope. Romans 10:3 says in reference to religious Jews, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Human righteousness, even the human righteousness of the most fastidious Pharisee – falls well short of the divine standard. Matthew 5:48 gives us that standard: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The Bible consistently teaches us that sinners are justified when God’s perfect righteousness is granted to them, to their account. It was only on this basis that the tax-collector (or anyone else for that matter) could be saved. You and I are not saved by our works, by our station in life, by who our family is, or by anything other than the grace and mercy of God.