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Humility True Greatness – Part 2 - “Humility True Greatness

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Humility True Greatness – Part 2 - “Humility True Greatness Powered By Docstoc
					                     “Humility: True Greatness – Part 2”
                                                                         Luke 18:9-14
                                          ~ Delivered at DHBC on June 3, 2007 (Soli Deo Gloria)

INTRODUCTION
     (SHOW SLIDE) Muhammad Ali was not only one of the greatest athletes of all
     time, he was also famous for his pride and the way he talked himself up. “I am
     the greatest”, he would say. One day he boarded a plane but refused to fasten his
     seatbelt. The flight attendants politely asked him to do so but he refused.
          o After numerous requests he finally lifted his head high and said
              triumphantly, “Superman don't need no seatbelt.” That flight attendant
              looked the great boxer straight in the eye and said, “Yes, and Superman
              don't need no airplane either…put on your seatbelt.”
     Last week we began a three part series on humility. John Calvin called humility
     the “sovereign virtue…the mother and root of all virtue.”1 Jonathan Edwards
     agrees and calls humility the “most essential thing in true religion.”2
          o Humility is at the very heart of Christian discipleship because Jesus says
              to all who follow him, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I
              am gentle and humble in heart.”
     But when we look at our hearts we find so much pride. It is our pride that finds
     fault with others and yet always defends and justify ourselves. It is our pride that
     is at the root of anger and bitterness. It is pride that we talk a lot and listen very
     little because we think we know enough. Every sin is at root pride for sin is
     saying to God, “I will be my own God. I am the captain of my soul.”
          o How evil is pride? Pride is at the heart of Satan himself for this was the
              cause of his fall. Isaiah 14 recounts the event when Satan said in his heart,
              “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I
              will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the utmost heights of
              the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will
              make myself like the Most High.” Every sin is an effort to dethrone God
              and enthrone ourselves. This is the essence of pride.
                       This is why God says in Proverbs 8:13, “I hate pride” and in 16:5,
                       “The LORD detests all the proud of heart.” This is why John
                       Stott writes, “At every state of our Christian development and in
                       every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest
                       enemy and humility our greatest friend.”3
     Brothers and sisters, I confess that I need to grow in humility. My pride causes so
     much damage to myself and others and keeps me from deeper communion with
     God. I desperately want to be like my Master who was humility personified.
          o But where should we begin? We must not begin by speaking of our need
              for humility toward each other. This is to put the proverbial cart before
              the horse. You see, humility is not rightly understood unless it is
              understood first in relation to God and then in relation to others.

1
    Cited in Gary Thomas, “The Glorious Pursuit – Embracing the Virtues of Christ”, pg 48.
2
    Ibid.
3
    Cited in C.J. Mahaney, “Humility: True Greatness”, pg 29.




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       A puritan author named John Flavel wrote, “They that know God will be humble,
       and they that know themselves cannot be proud.”
           o Do you see it? As you come to know the majestic Triune God your entire
               view of yourself changes from pride to humility. Self is dethroned when it
               beholds the glory of the true and rightful King. When you behold God
               you are transformed and the new humble view of self then spills over into
               relationships with others.
                       So today we are going to consider humility toward God and then,
                       flowing out of this, next week we will consider humility toward
                       each other.
       So this morning, I want to ask two questions that are really two sides of the same
       coin: (SHOW SLIDE) what does it look like to be proud before God? And,
       what does it look like to be humble before God?
           o Please open your Bibles to Luke 18. Familiar passage but I think you will
               see new things today. READ 9-14.

HUMILITY AND JUSTIFICATION
     The key to this story is verse 14. READ 14a. This is the question of every single
     religion. This is the question every human being needs to ask. How can I get
     right with God? To be justified is to be held guiltless, made right, acquitted, and
     accepted by God. Notice carefully that Jesus directly links this all important
     subject of being justified by God to humility and of being condemned to pride.
     READ 14b.
         o The Pharisee represents what all proud people from all time look like
             before God and the tax collector what all humble people like. Two men,
             two prayers, two attitudes, and in Jesus’ judgement, two totally different
             results and it all comes back to pride or humility before God.

PRAYING AT THE TEMPLE
     In order to rightly understand this story it is vital that we take a moment first to
     understand what the daily prayers of the temple looked because notice that Jesus
     sets the whole story in this context. READ 10.
          o Here is a model of the temple. (SHOW SLIDE) The temple was up on
              the hillside. (SHOW SLIDE) In those days at 9:00am and 3:00pm people
              went up to the temple to pray during the morning and evening sacrifice.
              So imagine a great crowd of people climbing the steps up to the temple
              grounds.
     Every day the ritual was the same. The priest would sacrifice an animal on the
     alter, light the incense, and then the people would pray. Why that order? Why
     the sacrifice first? Sacrifice must precede prayer because guilty sinners are not
     permitted to come to a holy God. The animal acted as a substitute for the people.
     Its bloody death symbolized the taking away of the people’s sins. Once their sins
     were atoned for the way to God was opened and the people were free to pray.
          o Why the incense? Incense represents prayer. So once the people saw the
              incense going into the air they knew the way to God had been opened
              through the death of the animal and they were now free to pray to Him.



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                       And these animal sacrifices went on day after day after day. As
                       one pastor says, “Priests were professional butchers.”4 So this is
                       what daily prayer looked like.

THE PRIDE OF THE PHARISEE
     With that said now let’s come and see what pride before God looks like. We see
     it in the Pharisee. Put yourself in the crowd again. There is the Pharisee right up
     by the temple, as close to God as he can get. The incense has gone up signaling it
     is time to pray and the Pharisee prays like this: READ 11.
          o Now what is wrong with this? Is it wrong to stand? Certainly not. Is it
              wrong to begin praying by saying, “I thank you God”? Certainly not.
              That is how the psalmist often prays going on to express thanks for
              something God has done. But is that what the Pharisee does? Not at all.
                       In fact, he is not even praying to God at all. He is really praying to
                       himself. Notice carefully that the word, “I” appears five times in
                       this short prayer. READ 11-12. In fact the whole subject of the
                       prayer is himself and specifically how good he thinks he is. One
                       writer says, “He glances at God but contemplates himself.”
     What does it look like to be proud before God? (SHOW SLIDE) In the first
     place we should say the proud person believes their goodness merits God’s
     approval of them. This is really how he thinks is it not? Notice first that he
     catalogues all the things he does not do. READ 11. Then he states all the things
     that make him good. READ 12.
          o Now that is pretty impressive. How many times were God’s people in the
              OT supposed to fast? Once a year on the Day of Atonement. He did more
              and he always tithed on everything.
                       But this is pure self-congratulations. In fact, it is almost like God
                       should thank him for being so great. This is not a prayer, it is a
                       speech and his view of himself before God is that he is accepted
                       because of his own goodness.
     In the second place notice that (SHOW SLIDE) the proud person measures
     their goodness by comparing to other people.
          o You can just see it can’t you. He is praying his self-congratulatory prayer
              when out of the corner of his eye he sees the tax collector. I am not sure
              the tax man has ever been liked but it was worse in Jesus’ day.
                       Remember that the Romans ruled over the Jewish people. To get
                       their taxes the Romans hired Jewish men to collect taxes from their
                       own people. You can see how these people were hated – they
                       serviced the oppressive Romans. They were regarded as unclean
                       sinners, outcasts, and leeches on society.
          o Measuring himself against the tax collector, the Pharisees becomes even
              more puffed up, and he adds, READ 11. When you measure yourself
              against others you can always find someone you are better than and the
              result is that in your pride you will look down on them.


4
    John MacArthur.




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       Verse 9 says that it is for the reasons I just gave that Jesus spoke this parable.
       READ 9.
          o But to those who exalt themselves before God like this, Jesus says, “God
              will not justify you. You are not accepted by God”. The Pharisee and
              Jesus’ hearers believed that he was far enough down the road in his
              righteousness that he could be accepted before God. The trouble with the
              Pharisee however was not that he need to get further down the road to
              righteousness in order to be accepted by God. No, he was on the wrong
              road all together. His goodness would never save him.

THE ANCIENT AND MODERN RELIGION OF SELF-ACHIEVEMENT
     Pharisaism is alive and well today because at its heart it is really what we could
     call the religion of self-achievement – which is the religion of human pride. Any
     spiritual system which has at its core the belief that you are good enough or can
     become good enough to be accepted by your selected god is a religion of human
     achievement. This is also the religion of pride because a person can boast of what
     they have done to be accepted by God. This is how our culture thinks today.
         o Ask someone, “Why are you not crying out for Jesus to save you?”
             They will answer, “because I don’t need saving. I am a good person.
             God will accept me.” People stand before God confident of their own
             righteousness. They stand proud before God.
     But Jesus says of the Pharisee and all like him that they are not justified by God.
     This message would have shocked Jesus’ original hearers because the Pharisees
     were looked upon as the righteous ones. This still shocks people because the
     Christian message begins by saying,
         o “You are not good enough to be justified by God. In fact, you can never
             become good enough. No matter how many pilgrimages you do, how
             many hail Mary’s you say, how many church services you attend, how
             moral you are, or how much social justice you do, you can never be good
             enough for God to accept you. In fact, you are condemned for your sins
             and will face judgement.”
                     Talk about humbling proud humanity. God levels the playing
                     field. No person is good enough or can ever become good enough,
                     through moral or religious achievement, to become acceptable to
                     God.
     How then can we be saved? If we cannot achieve it what can be done so that we
     do not face judgement and hell? According to Jesus there is an answer because he
     says the tax collector found it. The answer has everything to do with humbling
     oneself before God. Let’s look at humility and the tax collector.

THE TAX COLLECTORS APPROACH TO GOD
     The tax collector is the opposite of the Pharisee in every way. We see from him
     that (SHOW SLIDE) the humble person does not believe they are good
     enough to merit God’s approval and we see that the humble person does not
     measure their goodness against others but against God.




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                    o Notice that he does not even come near the temple. READ 13. In other
                         words, he knows God is holy and majestic and he knows he is a sinner.
                         He does not compare himself to others but only to God.
                    o Notice also the humility of his posture - “he would not even look up to
                         heaven.” He does not try to justify anything about himself before God or
                         list his deeds. He does not even notice anyone else – just him and God.
                And then he does something which is very interesting. He beats his chest. This
                word only appears twice in the NT. Here and in Lk 22:48 where we read, “It was
                now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the
                ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn
                in two. Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my
                spirit.’ When he said this he breathed his last…When all the people who had
                gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and
                went away”
                    o In his studies of Middle Eastern culture, Kenneth Bailey says that women
                         may do this at funerals but for men to do this suggests extreme sorrow.5
                         Women in Middle Eastern culture still do this for instance when they loose
                         a child through an act of terrorism or violence. They strike at their breasts.
                         But men do not do this. One person has said, “It takes something of the
                         magnitude of Golgotha to invoke this from Middle Eastern men.”6
                                  And what invokes this response from the tax collector? His heart is
                                  revealed in his prayer. READ 13b.
                    o This man is humbled because He knows God is holy and looking at his
                         heart he sees much sin. He knows there is nothing he can do to merit
                         God’s approval. His only hope is that God will have mercy on him.
                But note carefully he is not asking for mercy in general. He is asking for a
                specific mercy. What is he asking for? This is really important. To understand
                this look over at verse 35. READ 35-38.
                    o Amazingly the word used there is totally different from the word used in
                         verse 13. The tax collector is literally saying, “be propitiated to me”. To
                         propitiate means to turn aside anger.
                Now remember the animal has just been slaughtered, the incense has gone up, and
                now it is time to pray. So, what is the tax collector asking of God? Not mercy in
                general. He is crying out, “God, may the wrath that is due to me fall upon the
                animal instead of me. Let that animal’s death be for me. May your justice fall
                on it instead of me. Apply its death to me. Let it be for me oh God.”
                    o He knows God has provided atonement for sin through the death of an
                         animal. The tax collector humbles himself before God, admits his sin, and
                         entrusts himself to the God’s mercy given in the sacrificial animal. Two
                         weeks later Jesus offered himself as the once and for all, totally sufficient
                         sacrifice, that all who believe in him would never perish but have
                         everlasting life.




5
    Kenneth E. Bailey, “Through Peasant Eyes: More Lucan Parables” pg 153.
6
    John MacArthur.




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                      So we could say, (SHOW SLIDE) Knowing they can never
                      justify themselves before God, the humble person calls up God
                      to save them because of the sacrifice of His Son.
       And what is Jesus’ response to all of this? His answer stunned his hearers.
       READ 14. The Pharisee whom everyone thought was surely accept by God,
       Jesus condemns for his pride. The tax collector whom everyone condemned,
       Jesus declares is justified because he humbled himself before God and asked for
       mercy.
           o God applies the sacrifice to him and he is instantly justified. He does not
              have to do anything to become more justified. He is justified. Any sinner
              who comes humbly before relying on the atonement he provides will be
              justified.

THE RELIGION OF DIVINE ACCOMPLISHMENT
     There are only two religions in the world. The religion of human achievement
     and the religion of divine accomplishment. The religion of pride and the religion
     of humility. This is the dividing line between Christianity and all other forms of
     spirituality.
          o Christianity says you cannot save yourself. You can never get there.
               Your sins are too great. But there is good news. God can save sinners.
               God has provided a way. What you cannot do, God can do, and will do
               for all who humble themselves beneath him and rely on Christ’s sacrifice
               to save them.
                       In order to move from the Pharisee to the tax collector every
                       human being must humble themselves before God and cry out,
                       “God turn your wrath aside from me because of Jesus. Have
                       mercy on my because of his sacrifice.
     Oh how good this is to my ear. My salvation does not depend on me but on
     Christ. How good it is that this free gift is offered to all without cost. It cannot be
     earned, it can only be received. It is not only the rich and powerful who can have
     it. It is open to all who humble themselves before God.

WILLIAM CAREY’S HUMILITY BEFORE GOD
     William Carey had this humility before God. He served the Lord for 40 years in
     India and is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He
     underwent tremendous pain and suffering and translated the scriptures into 6
     different languages and parts into 29 other languages.
         o When Carey died a simple tablet was put on his grave with the words that
             he requested. It is this humble inscription that was the secret to this man’s
             faithfulness and productivity in the kingdom.
                     His grave reads, “William Carey, Born August 17th, 1761, Died
                     June 9th 1834. A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind
                     arms I fall.”
     Oh listen to the two sides of this phrase. He views himself first of all as a
     wretched, poor, and helpless worm. He is not saying that as a human being he has
     no worth. He is saying, “When I consider what a sinner I am before God, how



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       little I love him, how much I have failed him, I am know that I am a sinner.”
       This is a man who has a clear view of himself and his place before God.
            o But do not miss the next line. “On thy kind arms I fall”. That is the key.
                 He knew the gospel. He knew that because of what Jesus Christ has done.
                 And he threw himself wholly on the kind and loving arms of Jesus.
                        It is only to people who humble themselves before God like t his
                        that salvation comes.

CONCLUSION
    The big application we take away from this is that a day is coming when the
    proud will be humbled before God and the humble will be exalted. On that great
    day of judgement those who followed the religion of human achievement, the
    religion of pride will be humbled for they set themselves up against God.
        o The humble who cried out to God for mercy, who saw his holiness and
            their sin will be exalted. God will humble on that final day or God will
            exalt. The only way to know is what has characterized you in this life.
            What characterizes you?
                    Have you humbled yourself before God? Have you asked God to
                    have mercy on you? Are you relying on the sacrifice of Christ to
                    save to you? Are you in pride relying on your achievements to
                    make your right before God or in humility are trusting in the all-
                    sufficient sacrifice of Christ to save you?
                        • “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he
                            who humbles himself will be exalted.”




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