OUR RIGHTEOUS STANDING

THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION

 

            And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:

            “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer.

            “The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer.

            “‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

            “But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” (Luke 18:9-13).

 

Two men.  Both are Jewish.  Both are descendants of Abraham.  Both have come to the temple to pray.  The first is a Pharisee.  He is a fundamentalist.  He holds to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures.  As a member of the sect of the Pharisees, he has dedicated his life to the keeping of the Law of God.  He reads the Law daily.  He prays several times a day.  He gives his tithe to the Temple.  He is respectable in the eyes of the religious hierarchy.  Everyone agrees that he is a good man.

 

Standing nearby is the other man.  This man is a tax-gatherer.  He has gone to the Roman officials and has purchased a franchise from the Roman Empire to collect taxes from the subjugated people on behalf of Rome.  He is required to turn over a specified amount of money to the Romans, and anything over this amount he is permitted to keep for himself.

Therefore, he makes his profit by deliberately overcharging people on their taxes.  He has betrayed his countrymen to become a thief for the Romans.  He is a Benedict Arnold.  He has sold out to the Romans for money.  No one will have anything to do with him.  He holds the same social caste as a prostitute.

 

Each of these men comes to the Temple.  Each of them prays.  I think that I can even say that each of them was sincere in his prayer.  Now I want you to notice what Jesus said about these two men and the results of their prayers...

 

            “I tell you, this man went does to his house JUSTIFIED rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14).

 

Both of these men were sinners when they came into the Temple, although one was much more obvious in his sinning.  But one of these men went out of the Temple different than the other.  The Tax-collector was JUSTIFIED.

 

 

JUSTIFICATION DEFINED

 

What does it mean to be “justified”?  The most common definition which I have heard is that it makes me “just-as-if-I'd never sinned.”  This contains a certain amount of truth, but I suggest that it is inadequate.

 

The word “justify” is taken