The Rule of Righteousness
In this part of Kingdom Life, we are looking at how ‘The Subjects of the King trust in the King’s grace, not their own performance.’ It’s number 4 on our list of 8 points for this final chapter. If you want to see the list, click here.
We are looking at the parables of Jesus to help us understand the Kingdom of God better. Let’s turn to Luke 18:9-14 The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
Jesus is speaking to people who think they are righteous and subsequently, they despise others. Why is that? Because looking down on others is a fruit of self-righteousness and religion. God, on the other hand, loves mercy and He is love. But let’s read it first…
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 exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
Listen to what Jesus says about the Pharisee; ‘and prayed thus with himself’'. With himself! He’s bragging. He’s not communing or fellowshipping with God. You see, a religious person’s standard is other people and their performance. A spiritual person’s standard is God and see if He’s being more like Jesus! That's a pretty high standard. The point is, it's too high! We cannot achieve it on our own...we need a Saviour.
The 'mark' is God. We are made in His image and likeness to reflect Him to the world. Who cares if I’m surpassing other people in my performance?! What matters is; am I being like Christ?
That kind of thinking comes from fear, ultimately. The religious person thinks that God is judging us when we make mistakes, they have a sin-consciousness. They’re not focused on the heart but the outside appearance. As a result, they don’t want to compare themselves with God because they’d be way short, so they compare themselves with other people. They stand more chance of feeling good about themselves if they look at others who are failing. But this is a wrong view of God and what Jesus has accomplished for us.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
In other words, you died with Christ! You’ve been raised up with Him and your home is in heaven with Him! Some of the laws, like fasting or recognising holidays etc. can be good for you and have an impact, but they do not make you holy or righteous.
The publican, on the other hand, cries out for mercy. He didn’t know about being born again or having a renewed spirit and being justified by the blood of Jesus. He just knew that he couldn’t fulfil the law in his own ability. He acknowledged his sin. Jesus said that it was this man who went home justified before God! Wow!
1 John 1
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 cleanses 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.
When we come face to face with God, we are not going to brag about our good works and holiness! We are going to fall down face first before the throne and glory of God. The gospel is about Jesus! It’s about the work of grace He’s done in us. It is not about performance, except the works that are done in response to His grace, mercy and love.
The True Subjects of the King trust in His grace and not in their own performance.
Here’s another parable that talks about this: The Labourers in the Vineyard.
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Grace and salvation is a gift! We need to understand that people who are caught up in religious activities in order to meet God’s so-called qualifications are trusting in their own works. We need to understand that it is by grace through faith alone that we are saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The King’s True Subjects are focused on trusting in the grace of God that’s been made available to us through the blood of Jesus. We aren’t focused anymore on working to follow all the rules, we are focused on relationship. Be focused on hearing His voice, walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, in your purpose and calling and on loving and blessing as many people as you can! That’s what it looks like to live trusting in His grace and not your own performance. Human effort is rejected in favour of God’s grace and mercy. Now ain't that a relief?!
It says in this parable, “The first shall be last”. The people who excel in religion, who trust in their own goodness and good works, will be last. Those who are needy and helpless and end up trusting in grace; they will be first. Hallelujah!
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Until next week, be blessed!
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