Grace For The Guilty
When the Lord Jesus Christ addressed the self-righteous religionists of His day, namely the Scribes and Pharisees, He always used the harshest language. In most cases His words to them always began with the phrase “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES”. (See Matthew 23:14-35) Think about it! Our Lord pronounced judgment and condemnation on the most moral, sincere, dedicated religionists of His day, the very ones who tried their dead level best to avoid every known sin and put forth their best effort to do every possible good. These men who appeared outwardly righteous to all who saw them were the very ones who stood in need of God’s mercy through Christ’s imputed righteousness alone, AND THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE OKAY BEFORE GOD. In Luke 18:9, the Apostle wrote, “And He spoke this parable unto certain who TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES that they were righteous.”
Isn’t it amazing that man hasn’t changed at all from the time when our representative man Adam fell in the garden?
Adam thought that the fig leaves he had made for himself covered his sinfulness, while in reality it exposed his need of something he no longer possessed, A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT EQUALED THE DEMANDS OF GOD LAW AND JUSTICE. The Pharisee in the parable in Luke 18 teaches us something about how lost men THINK that what they do, or don’t do, makes the difference between being saved or condemned, even going so far as attributing the performance of their deeds to God. This man said, “I THANK THEE, that I am not as other men are,” Then he showed how much he valued what he did as making the difference concerning eternal life. “I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of ALL that I possess.” In other words, he went over and above board to make sure God noticed what he did. He actually thought God owed him eternal life. Here is the problem with this Pharisee and all of us by nature. If we could obey God’s holy law perfectly, it is still not enough. “For as many as are of the WORKS OF THE LAW (trying to earn eternal life by their obedience) are under the curse (NOT THE BLESSINGS OF GOD), as it is written, cursed is everyone who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Galatians 3:10)
Listen to me: God requires that we love God perfectly from the cradle to the grave and He requires that we love our neighbor as our self (WHICH INCLUDES OUR WORST ENEMY). I know that you’re thinking:
WE CAN’T DO THAT?
Salvation is not conditioned on what we do, but what the Lord Jesus Christ did in His obedience unto death. He fulfilled all of the conditions to the law’s precepts in His perfect obedience to God, and satisfied its penalty in His death. The sin of His people was imputed (charged) to His account, and upon completion of His work, His righteousness was imputed (charged) to their spiritual account so fully that God has forever justified (declared righteous) every sinner for whom Christ died.
Like the publican in Luke 18, we MUST approach God as mercy beggars on the basis of God’s mercy to us in Christ at the cross. “God be merciful (literally, be propitious, i.e., make satisfaction based on Christ’s righteousness alone) to me THE sinner.” Luke 18:13
By R. Warmack