<%@ Page Language="VB" ContentType="text/html" ResponseEncoding="iso-8859-1" %> Untitled Document Publican Or Pharisee?

A Jewish tax collector who recognized that he was a sinner, guilty before God, and who humbly confessed his need fo the mercy of God could be justified before God. A Pharisee who trusted in his own righteousness and who thanked God that he was not like sinful men including the tax collector could not because of his pride and his blindness to his own guilt be justified before God (Lk. 18:9-14). Such Pharisees justified themselves before men and despised others (Lk. 16:15; 18:9). They were like dishes clean outside and dirty inside, and like whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones (Matt. 23:25-28). On the other hand, a tax collector was immediately judged by his fellow Jews to be a sinner and thus a base person, though he sought God with readiness to correct any errors in his life -- as did Zacchaeus (Lk. 19:1-10) and Matthew (Matt. 9:9-13).

One is not inclined to seek help or a doctor unless he sees that he has need or is sick. The advantage of the publicans and sinners over the Pharisees was in their recognition of their need for the mercy of God and their need for a Physician. When Jesus said, "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance," pompous Pharisees and any others filled with pride might have said to themselves, "Well, He's not talking to me, then", but Jesus meant no comfort to them in His statement, for He also said to others, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20). A man who has heart problems but will not admit it to himself or others is in far greater danger than another who has the same problem but seeks help. This is true both physically and spiritually.

If we face reality, we will recognize that God has a plan of salvation for all (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). That same reality compels one to acknowledge his need for faith in Jesus Christ (Jno. 3: 16), for repentance of all his sins (Lk. 24:46,47), for confession of his faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10; Acts 8:37), for baptism in the name of Christ for remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and for continued growth and development as a new creation in Christ (Rom. 6:3,4; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:1,2). By that same realization, we are bound to acknowledge that we have become a part of the body of Christ, the church of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23; 5:23; 1 Cor. 12:27). We must see that we have duties to the body and with the body to do our part (Eph. 4:15,16). With this reality set before us, will we be like the blind Pharisee or like the observant publican?

By Gilbert Alexander.

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