By Robert Maxie Sr
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. Lk 18:9–11
I have read this text many times but for some reason this verse 9 sticks out to me today, the idea that Jesus spoke this parable to those who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, that they saw no need for help in this area is shocking.
Righteousness is defined as the state of moral perfection. This is what God requires of us to enter heaven. The problem is we can’t reach this on our own. And even though we can’t reach it, we still try and this is how we get stuck in religion. That’s ok to the enemy, because he wants you to be stuck in religion, he wants you to go from shackles of this world to chains in religion because that’s what religion does.
Religion tells me to do more, it is impossible to satisfy religion. You can make it to every service, pray 3 times a day, give 50% tithe and at the end of the day I still have thoughts about using and when I mess up it’s too much for me to bare cause the enemy is right there saying “I told you”, you thought you could quit, you thought you could stop watching porn…you are nobody. I kept trying and failing because no one told me that I couldn’t achieve righteousness by doing.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6
The word used for unclean literally means a garment of menstruation’; bodily discharges were considered a defilement, because they were the ‘outflow’ of a sinful, fallen human nature. So, even what we might consider to be in our favor, our righteous acts, come from our fallenness.
We are all far from Gods standards and the only answer to the problem of sin in our life is Jesus. Through Jesus we have the opportunity to get rid of our sin and get the righteousness of Christ imputed (credited) to our account in return. That’s what happened and that is why Paul writes, “and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
Pastor Robert Maxie is the Ministry Leader of Crossroad Recovery Ministry, Associate Pastor of Encounter Church and Director of the 2018 “Live Free” Conference.