Luke 18:9-14 gives the historical account of two men who went into the temple of God to pray. One considered himself to be perfect and therefore, not in need of God’s forgiveness or cleansing. Because he saw himself in this way, he was convinced that God was pleased with him and his many good works and therefore used his prayer to present his long list of good works before God, to praise and elevate himself, while looking down on the man who stood in the temple with him, which he knew for a fact, had messed up in life, had done a lot of bad things and was a great sinner.
It was clear that he considered that man to be hopeless, even using his words to mock the fact that that man was praying to God, when clearly, to his mind, that man had messed up too much for God to want anything to do with him now.
In this way, the Pharisee used his prayer to gloat. For, in his mind, he had a sure ticket reserved for heaven based on all the good deeds he had done in life so far but this man, who dared to come into God’s temple with all of his vileness and to try to pray to God, was wasting his time because he was already condemned and therefore hopeless.
But was he? This is how the average human being might think of the situation. Yet, in Isaiah 55:8-9, God reminded the Israelites that his thoughts are not like our thoughts. He doesn’t think the way we think and see things the way we see it. For, we are merely human beings with limited understanding, whereas, he is all knowing and all wise.
Through his Prophet Isaiah, God said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways.”
In Romans 9:13-15, it states of God:
“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
The other man who had done a great deal of wrong in life, the Bible calls him a Publican. He had a very different kind of prayer to the Pharisee. His prayer was not full of self-praises. He knew that he had messed up. He knew that he was deserving of hell, condemnation and God’s wrath, yet, he still mustered the courage out of desperation, to come humbly before God and to pour out his guilty heart before him. For he knew that he needed to be saved from the wrath that was sure to befall him from God, if he did not repent and let God know he was sorry for his sins.
In fact, so ashamed was he of his sins and the failed life he had lived so far, that he could not even lift his head to God when he prayed. He looked down because he knew that he was not worthy of God’s forgiveness. He was nothing more than a worm in God’s sight, yet, he still asked for forgiveness because it was only God that could give him the forgiveness he needed.
He acknowledged to God that he was a sinner and begged him for mercy. He did not use fancy words or pray as long as the other man did. He kept it simple and focused on his need only, nobody else. In fact, so focused was he on his predicament before God, that he may not have even noticed the other man standing next to him in the room. This was a moment between him and God only. He was a great sinner under condemnation and all he saw was his vile, wicked, unholy condition before God, who was thrice holy. All he saw was his overwhelming need for God’s forgiveness, which could only come if God decided to show him mercy.
Ironically, the Bible says that God only heard one man’s prayers in that temple on that day, although two men stood to pray before him. Ironically, it was the prayer of repentance from the sinner, that vile man that had done so much wrong, that God listened to.
In fact, the Bible lets us know that the self-righteous Pharisee, who had deluded himself into thinking that he was so great and so sinless, had practically wasted his time praying, as God did not even hear his prayer.
It was the repentant sinner who humbled himself before God, told the truth and confessed that he was a sinner in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness, that God bestowed his grace upon on that day and justified, meaning, erased his sinful past, delivered him from condemnation and gave him a new beginning IN Christ Jesus.
Here is what the scripture states of the parable that Jesus told concerning these two men:
- “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
If you are a Christian that has messed up in life, irrespective of what you have done or how far you have fallen or who is looking down at you with scorn as if you are hopelessly condemned, know, that God’s arms are wide open to receive you back to himself and into his fellowship.
He is a God of reconciliation and he wants you back into his fold. If you admit that you sinned against him are deserving of his punishment and you come humbly before him, confess your sins and ask him to forgive you, if, like the Publican, you see the greatness of your sin and are genuinely grieved about it because of how far you have fallen in the eyes (not of man) but of God, then forgiveness and restoration can be yours, today!
If you would go to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, confess your wrong, let him know that you are sorry, resolve to not do it again and ask for his forgiveness and cleansing, he will faithfully restore you.
1 John 1:6-9 reminds us Christians that:
- “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Godly sorrow over the fact that you have sinned against God is the first step. From there, you need to go to God humbly and confess what you have done, to him. In confessing, you are agreeing with God that he is right and you were wrong in what you did. Then, you need to ask for his forgiveness, resolving in your heart, to not continue on in your sinful way of living anymore.
One you have genuinely repented before God, he gives us the assurance in his Word, that he forgives you and cleanses you from all the unrighteousness that would have come, due to your sin. Having been forgiven and restored, you must now say no to that sin and other sins, keeping your eyes on Jesus, as you move forward IN Christ Jesus. This does not mean that temptation will not come but you must ask God to deliver you from temptation and remember, that if you are IN Christ Jesus, you are more than a conqueror through him that loves you (Romans 8:37).
Be sure to also look at the Quotes featured in the Albums on my Facebook Page entitled:
- Part 1 – Backslidden (Call To Repentance) Quotes
- Part 2 – Deliverance From Guilt & Shame (After Repentance) Quotes
- Part 3 – Overcoming Temptation To Return To Sin Quotes
- Part 4 – Victory, Gratitude, Testimony & Praise (Overcomer) Quotes
(Written on 25th April, 2019)