The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

Sermon Notes

Bible References: (Luke 18:9-14, Proverbs 6:16-19)

What are Parables?

Parables are made-up stories that contain a spiritual truth that is often easily missed.

Important Insight:

The “comparison game” is the only game in which no one wins.

If you are comparing your spiritual maturity to people who sin differently than you, then you are using the wrong standard.

Today’s Parable

Today we will examine the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector.  Here Jesus exposes the weakness of self-righteousness and the power of broken humility. Our Savior also teaches the appropriate condition of our heart when we approach holy God. Finally, Jesus also paves the way for the future churches to think about salvation by introducing us to a powerful word- “justified”. This legal term reminds us we are not able to save ourselves by our own righteous actions.

  1. Spiritually unhealthy people tend to focus on four things:
    • Avoiding certain outward sins and dismissing hidden sins (Proverbs 6:16-19)
    • Judging spiritual maturity based upon someone else’s story
    • Adding rules to the Bible
    • Seeking attention in religious environments
  2. Spiritually healthy people come to terms with their own sinfulness
    • Know your sin (pay attention to the feeling of guilt)
    • Own your sin, (don’t blame others for your sin)
    • Confess your sin (Ask for God’s mercy)
  3. Honest confession to a holy God about personal sin is the pathway to being fully justified.
    • “…justified…”  (in this sentence, this is a perfect passive participle), a complete statement of vindication that happens to you.

Application:

Reflect on these questions:

  • Do you possess unhealthy attitudes toward undeveloped believers?
  • Do you focus on the obvious, public sins of others and not your own hidden sins?
  • What would happen if the Tax Collector and the Pharisee agreed to listen to one another and help one another?

Discussion Questions

TALK IT OUT:

  1. Pastor Rusty says, “The ‘comparison game’ is the only game in which no one wins.” He says if we compare our spiritual maturity to people who sin differently than us we are using the wrong standard. Why is it easy begin using this wrong standard? 
  2. In today’s parable Jesus exposes the weakness of self-righteousness and shows the power of a broken heart. Why does God reject a self-righteous heart? 
  3. We are not able to save ourselves by our own righteousness. Pastor Rusty makes the point that spiritually unhealthy people tend to focus on four things: 1) Avoiding outward sins while dismissing hidden sins (Proverbs 6:16-19) 2) Judging spiritual maturity based on someone else’s story, 3) Adding rules to the Bible, 4) Seeking attention in religious environments. Which of these four mistakes are you most prone to make?
  4. Why do we tend to want to make ourselves look better than we really are? 
  5. We can only be made right with God as we come to terms with our own sinfulness. Pastor Rusty lists three specific healthy ways God wants us to deal with our own sin: 1) Know your own sin (pay attention to the feelings of guilt), 2) Own your own sin (don’t blame others for your sin), 3) Confess your sin (ask God for mercy). Which of these three practices comes most easily to you? Which of these is most challenging for you? 
  6. Pastor Rusty reminds us that it is only as we are honest and confess our sin to a holy God that our personal sin can be fully justified. Why are many of us more prone to making excuses than to honestly confessing our sin to God? 

LIVE IT OUT

  • Make a list of any unhealthy attitudes you have toward undeveloped believers. 
  • Do you tend to focus on the obvious public sins of others instead of your own hidden sins? If so, make a list of the hidden sins in your own life. Once you have created that list, humbly confess those hidden sins to God. 
  • What do you think would happen if the Tax Collector and the Pharisee agreed to listen to one another and help one another? Which of the two do you think you are more like? 
  • Ask God to help you see yourself the way He sees you. 
  • Ask God to help you become the person He wants you to be. 
  • Ask God to direct you to someone who knows they need God’s forgiveness, but who doesn’t feel they deserve it. Be on the alert this week for that opportunity.

Additional Material: (9 Keys to Better Understanding Parables) Available in the Atrium or for download.

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