“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.” – Luke 18:9-13
Without recognition of our sinfulness, we have a tendency to become prideful and self-righteous. We may even become self-deceived, like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:9-14). This pompous religionist looked down on other people and declared himself more righteous than the Publican because he wasn’t an immoral person, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed. Yet Jesus said he was still lost!
Notice Jesus said in verse 14 that only the Publican went home “justified” – forgiven by God and acquitted of his sins. The self-righteous Pharisee never got saved! He was obviously a religious man, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed. But his religion didn’t do him any good; he was trying to earn his salvation by his own efforts, not by faith in what Christ did for us on the cross. Despite his exceptional acts of piety and outward goodness, he thought he didn’t need the grace of God.
The Publican (i.e. Tax Collector) on the other hand, was deeply conscious of his sinfulness and guilt before God. In true FAITH, HUMILITY, and REPENTANCE, he pleaded with God to forgive him and be merciful.
The point of Jesus’ parable is that the Publican typifies the true child of God; one who continually recognizes his wretchedness and cries out for God’s amazing grace to sustain him. The assurance of his salvation is not based on his own good works, nor perfect obedience to God’s commandments, but on the certainty of God’s goodness and mercy towards all His children who abide in Jesus Christ and persevere in faith to the end.
– Pastor Luis Yosefus
Comment from http://TheGospelOfGrace.Wordpress.com: “Amen. and Amen and Amen. I believed the publican justified after leaving the synagogue. I also believed next time the publican went to the synagogue He didn’t do the same thing again just like what he did the other time. Grace and peace.”