Why Did the Sinner Leave Justified?

2010 10 Sep

C. S. Lewis said, "The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object." We don't often hear statements like that coming from pulpits today. We hear how we can all be champions. We hear how we can all be successful. But it is unpopular to speak of being spiritually destitute, to teach that we are to be poor in spirit. Yet the Bible says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus told a story about a Pharisee and a sinner who went into the temple to pray. The Pharisee, a religious man, prayed, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men . . ." (Luke 18:11). The sinner, on the other hand, wouldn't even lift up his eyes. He beat on his chest and said, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" (verse 13), or more literally, "the sinner." Apparently he did not think of himself as one sinner among many; he acted as though he were the only one. He was so overwhelmed with the sense of his sin, his moral bankruptcy, and his spiritual destitution that, as far as he was concerned, everyone else's sin paled in comparison.

Jesus said of him, "This man went down to his house justified rather than the other . . ." (verse 14). Why? Because he saw himself as he really was. Yet we tend do the very opposite. We attempt to justify our sin because we can always find others who are far worse.

If you want to be happy, then you must see yourself as you are, be sorry for it, and want change in your life. "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

Taken from "Reality Check" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).