Jesus’ Story About The Pharisee & The Tax Collector
In Luke 18 Jesus told the story of two men who went to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—and, here come the “Biggie Sins”—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers & even like this tax collector; I fast twice a week & I tithe when the offering plate is passed.” But, when the tax collector prayed he wouldn’t even raise his eyes to heaven. Instead, he kept beating his chest and saying, “God, turn your wrath from me…a SINNER!” No pointing fingers! No minimizing his sin! He owned it!
And, Jesus concluded the story like this: “I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” When we act toward each other as this Pharisee did to the tax collector we poison those human relationships with the subtle, almost “respectable” sins of pride & selfishness! We sabotage, even the ones we claim to love, by our judgmentalism & our sins of the tongue. We destroy our friendships by our lack of self-control, our envy & our jealousy! More families have been destroyed; more churches have turned inside out against itself; and, more countries have gone to war over the subtle so-called “respectable sins” of pride, jealousy & selfishness than all the gross, appalling sins combined!
The Bottom Line About Sin
Never forget the bottom line—ALL SIN IS DEADLY! It wasn’t a “biggie sin” that resulted in the fall of mankind in the garden. Adam & Eve just plucked a piece of fruit from a tree and ate it! No “biggie”? It was devastating! The murder of every Jew by Hitler was “in” that piece of fruit! All the sex-slavery, human trafficking, robberies & marriage infidelity was “in” that forbidden fruit! Don’t ever minimize your sin! The small “respectable” sins can be just as deadly! Let us be relentless, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to be killing all sin in our life; or, it will be killing us!
Put Sin To Death
There’s an old English word that we rarely use in the church anymore. It’s the word ‘mortify’ and it means to ‘put to death.’ Colossians 3:5, for example, says, ‘Mortify—or, put to death—what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.’ Romans 8:13 says we accomplish that by the Spirit ONLY; not by the flesh!