Pursuing the HUMILITY of the Gospel: Part 1

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Part One:

You Are NOT Pursuing the Humility of the Gospel if  You Exalt in Yourself and Reject Christ's Righteousness

Take a look at the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-12.  Then ask two important questions about yourself.

Question #1: Do you trust in your own righteousness?  

Look at verse 9 carefully.  The word “trust” here is the perfect tense form of the Greek word peitho, which simply means “to be persuaded of, to seek favor or approval from, to reassure, to rely on, have confidence in, to be confident or sure.” One dictionary defines as “to be induced to believe” (Thayer).  

Key cross references are found back in Philippians 3:3,4 where this word, peitho, is used twice. First in verse3, Paul says, “we should put no confidence in the flesh.” This is what the Judaizers did and what Paul rebuked. This is what the Pharisee in Luke 18 is doing. We see him putting confidence in who he is and what he has accomplished. 

This same form of the Greek word in Luke 18:9 is also used in Philippians1:25 where it means to be convinced of something. In Acts 5:39 another form (the aorist) of this word is used to mean “taking advice from.” In Acts13:43 another form (the imperfect) is translated as “urge”, and again in 27:11 it is translated as “listen.” 

The present tense form of peitho is translated in Rom. 2:8 (see also Gal. 5:7) as refusing to obey the truth. This is especially fitting since Jews are subject.Now plug these into the statement, “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” as Luke writes in 18:9. 

In short, there were many, the chief of whom were Pharisees, who were convinced of their own righteousness before God. They listened to themselves and to their fellow Pharisees, men of their own “stripe”, who affirmed them. They were fully convinced and persuaded that they were okay with God. This is what is so sad.   It is impossible to change the mind of someone who only listens to themselves or to those with whom they agree.

Luke goes on to write that they “trusted in themselves that they were righteous…”  The Greek word for “righteous” is the word dikaios. It means conforming to the standard, will or character of God; upright, good, just, innocent, faultless, guiltless, to be in a right relationship with God. To be approved or acceptable to God. It means to be in accordance with what God requires.  Thayer writes, 
“of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves on their virtues, whether real or imaginary…preeminently, of himwhose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in heart or life…” 
These things are what the Pharisee believed about himself. Let me put it into perspective for you in terms of the Pharisees of today. This is most noticeable in people today who call themselves Christians and act and think as if they do nothing wrong. 

  • When trying to confront them about wrongdoing, they explain it away, rationalize it or excuse it or blameshift. 
  • They show no sign or reflect in no way that they actually think about what they have done wrong or that they think at all with respect to them doing wrong. 
  • There’s no self-examination, no questioning of self, no apologies,confessions, asking of forgiveness, etc. 
  • When a standard of behavior is held up to them, they change the standard, twist it to fit their misbehavior, or virtually ignore it yet all the while still clinging to the thought that they are Christians.
Now ask yourself, “Am I thoroughly aware of and completely convinced of my unrighteousness before God? Or do I excuse myself when I do what is wrong? Do I rationalize it away when I am confronted with something I’ve done wrong? Do I look down on others because I don’t think they are as godly as I am? 

Do I think less of others because they don’t do what I think they should do? Do I always act in completely conformity to God’s will? Do I try to pretend like I am always in conformity to God’s will? Do I try to hide my failures and sins and mistakes from others so they won’t think less of me? Am I completely honest with God about how sinful I really am? Do I really view myself as sinful as God does? These are hugely important questions to ask yourself.

Question #2:  Do You Look Down on Others Who are not as Spiritual as You Think You Are?

Look at verse 9 once more. Notice there that the Pharisee is Jesus’ primeexample of those who not only trust in themselves, in their ownrighteousness, but also treat others with contempt. This Greek word is exoutheneo, which means to treat as nothing; to despise and count something as of no value or worthless; to reject or cast aside.

Is this how you view others, friend? Is this how you treat your spouse? Your children? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? Your employees? 

Do you compare yourself to others and then think little of them because they do not believe what you believe, go to church where you do, read the kind of books you read, spend their money the way you think a person should, drive the kind of cars you think they ought, live in the kind of houses you think Christians ought to live in, discipline their children the same way you do, etc.?

It is so easy to allow our opinions and estimations of others be lessened and lowered bit by bit because they don’t “measure” up to the way we do things? It is easy to look down on others, not thinking of them as spiritual as ourselves. This is the number one cause of church splits and fights – it is all about judging one another. We see the Pharisee doing it in Luke 18, we’veseen it happen here in recent weeks, and we will continue to see it unless we kill the Pharisee within us. We must put to death the hypocrisy, childishness,pettiness, and self-righteousness and look only to Jesus Christ and the righteousness He offers.

In the next post:  Three Reasons Why Jesus Chose a Pharisee for His Parable.

About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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