09 Feb The dangers of being good
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Have you ever felt the desire of wanting to be approved and accepted by the people around you? I hope you do otherwise you are not human. Every one of us, without exception, has the desire to be approved and accepted by people around us, especially those who matter to us. Let me give you an example. When I was in Tokyo, I realised something weird. Even though the city was very clean and organised, I saw a lot of homeless. I did not expect this. I always thought that the Japanese are hard workers. And they are. So, why so many homeless? It is actually very interesting. In Japan, if you lose your job, you don’t come home and tell people that you lose your job. You especially don’t want your family to know because it is a very shameful thing. So what you do if you lose your job is you come home, you don’t tell anyone, and you put on your work suit again the next day and pretend that you are going to work as always. You spend the day looking for another job and hang out with others who also don’t have a job. You repeat this day after day. And if after a while you still can’t find another job, you just don’t come back. You don’t tell people. You just disappear and become homeless. Why? Because it is shameful to tell people that you lose your job and can’t find another job.
Some of you might think, “That’s very extreme. I wouldn’t do that.” I would disagree with you. In every culture, in every century, there is a hunger for approval and acceptance. This hunger might look different to different people, but the hunger is there. We try to find acceptance through our work, appearance, relationship, family, etc. Yet, after all the hours and dollars we spent to be accepted, we are still empty. The word righteousness, in both Hebrew and Greek, basically have to do with being approved and accepted. All of us desire to be righteous and we try everything we can to be righteous and yet at the end of the day it is not working. It’s like this. When my niece was here on Christmas, her parents bought her a Frozen monopoly. And she loved it. She wanted to play monopoly all the time. There was one time her parents went shopping in the city and she was bored at home. I was up in my room preparing a sermon for Christmas. So she came to my room and asked me to play monopoly with her. I said, “Qq is busy preparing a sermon. Can you play with ama instead?” She did not reply. She just sat in my bed and not say a word. I thought she would leave my room. One minute passed and she was still there. Two minutes… three… and eventually, I said, “Okay, give Qq five minutes and I’ll play with you.” She said, “Okay, 5 minutes!” and she ran back downstairs. Until today, she is the only person who successfully disturbed my sermon prep without me getting cranky. So, we played. And let me tell you, she is good. She is only seven years old, but she knows how to count money really well. And long story short, a seven years old girl beat me in a game of monopoly, fair and square. Her strategy was really weird. Rather than buying lots of different cities, she just concentrated on one. And she built houses and a hotel in that city. All I had to do was to avoid that one city. And when I rolled my dices, I landed in that city. I went bankrupt because of it. Then she said “I am rich, I am rich. I have lots of money.” She was very happy because she earned so much money. But let’s say the next day I took her to the bank to store all her monopoly money. What happened? It is rejected. The bank would not accept the money. All the monopoly money that she earned is worth zero in the real world. And this is the picture of us and our own righteousness. We try everything we can to earn righteousness, to be approved and accepted, and we thought that we had so much to offer. Yet, it worths zero. Our own righteousness is like monopoly money. It has no value whatsoever in front of God.
This is the point of this parable. Jesus is telling this parable to show his audiences that there is no amount of good works that can make you righteous in the sight of God. This parable deal with the question, “How can we be justified before God?” With another word, “How can we be made right with God? How can we be approved and accepted by God?” And this is one of the grand questions of the bible. God is holy. He is perfect. He is all good and there is not a shadow of evil in him. And yet, we are the total opposite of God. We are sinners. We are filled with weakness and wrongdoings. So the question is, “how can sinners get right with God?” And this is the purpose of this parable. Verse 9 gives us the context. Luke 18:9 – He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. There are many in Jesus’ audiences who think that they are righteous. They think they have what it takes to be accepted and approved by God based on their own strength. And because of it, they treated others with contempt. They are basically saying, “Look at me, I am good. I have what it takes to be accepted by God. I am awesome. But you? Geez, I can’t believe it. Your life is a mess. You smell like alcohol and prostitute. You are so bad. God will never accept you.” And to these people, Jesus tells this parable. And the parable is shocking. It is extremely illogical. By the end of this parable, everyone is confused. Because Jesus is turning their world upside down.
Luke 18:10 – “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Let me give you a summary of the parable first. There are two men who come into the temple to pray. And when they leave the temple, only one of them is made right with God. The two men are a Pharisee and a tax collector. Let’s talk about the Pharisee first. Who are the Pharisees? The word “Pharisee” has received a lot of bad mouth in churches today. They are the bad guys in the story of the Gospel and none of us wants to be like them. If you are a believer today, it is safe to assume that you are on Jesus’ side and the Pharisees are the antagonist of the story. But that’s not always the case. There were times in history where the Pharisees are the good guys. Back in Jesus’ days, a Pharisee is a position of honour! People look up to them and want to be like them. They excelled in everything we admire spiritually. They wake up early to pray, they memorised scripture, they have solid theology, they are zealous for God and they are committed to their faith. They obey all the laws of Moses and they even created more laws to protect the laws. They are willing to pay the price no one else would. The Pharisees see themselves as God’s biggest fans.
The tax collector, however, is the total opposite of the Pharisee. The tax collectors are the number one public enemy. In order to collect money from the non-citizens of Rome, the Romans appointed people to work for them as tax collectors. The tax collectors are free to take as much money as they want from the people, as long as they meet the given quota. Then they get to keep the rest of the money they make. So, tax collectors are people who betrayed their own country and make money out of their own people. Tax collectors are considered as worst of the worst. People absolutely hated them. Even sinners despise tax collector. I mean, how bad can you be that even sinners hate you?
Can you see the contrast between the two? Let’s put it in today context. The tax collector is equivalent to someone who is very immoral. He has a very bad reputation. He is as bad as anyone can be. He is probably a pimp, a drug dealer, a mafia, Peaky Blinder, or let’s just call him Mr Gaga. The pharisee is equivalent to someone who is very religious. He has a very good reputation. He is as good as anyone can be. He is without a doubt, your pastor, me. So, imagine this. One day, Mr Gaga comes to RSI. This is shocking already because you don’t usually see Mr Gaga in church. You see him in a club. And then in the middle of worship, suddenly two persons are demon-possessed. I quickly run to one of them to cast out the demon. And everyone else is afraid of the other demon-possessed person, except for Mr Gaga. Mr Gaga runs to the other person to cast out the demon. So now we have two people trying to cast out demon at the same time. Me being a pastor, I do all the right thing. I speak in tongue. I quote scriptures. I pray. And I command the demon to come out. While, Mr Gaga, simply cries, hugs the person and prays. Now, here is the question for you. Which prayer is answered by God? Which of us successfully cast out the demon? How many of you say your pastor? How many of you say Mr Gaga? Logically speaking, I should be the one who has my prayer answered. Right? But yet in the parable that Jesus told, the tax collector, Mr Gaga, is the one who has his prayer answered. It is extremely shocking to his audience and it should be extremely shocking to us.
Let’s look at each of their prayers to see what happen. And I will give you some applications at the end.
Luke 18:11-12 – The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Few things about the Pharisee. First, he knows how to pray. He begins his prayer by thanking God. He is not a hypocrite. He knows how to pray and he is quick to give God credit for everything in his life. He is saying, “God, where would I be without you. I am here because of you and I thank you for everything I am.” Second, he is a moral man. He is saying, “God, I thank you I am not like Bob. Did you see what happen with Bob? He is cheating on his wife. But I am not. I am faithful to my wife. I am honest with my work. While everyone else watches YouTube at work, I refuse to use my work hours to entertain myself. I always drive under the speed limit and I don’t text and drive like other people. I don’t lie and I don’t get drunk. I am especially not like Mr Gaga here who is next to me.” Third, he is a religious man. He says that he fasts twice a week. The law of Moses only tells you to fast once a year. So he did 100x more than required. And he says that he gives ten percents (tithes) of all that he gets. The law of Moses only tells you to tithe certain produce. But he goes beyond what is required by the law. He has excellent spiritual disciplines. He is saying, “God, other people might read 2 chapters per day in their daily Bible reading, but I read 20 chapters per day. I am never late to church. If the church starts at 4, I do not come to church at 4:20 like most of them. I come to church at 3 to help my pastor sets up chairs. I love my pastor and I always pray for him. I give generously to the church, at least 20% of my income. I am involved in every ministry. If I am not singing, I am ushering. The week that I did not do both, I am teaching in RSI Kids church. In fact, if needed, I can run Multimedia, Sound, and Video all on my own. God, I thank you for all of these.” This guy is impressive. He is my kind of guy. I am sure that if he is in RSI, he would be my favourite. This is what Jesus does. He intentionally paints a picture of a really good and respectable person. Yet none of his good deeds can make him righteous in the sight of God.
What is wrong with the pharisee? Pay attention to his prayer. Yes, he is quick to give God credit, but as soon as he does that, everything else he says begins with “I.” “God, I did this. I did that, I am not like him or her. I, I, I.” His prayer is very self-centred. His prayer is not a prayer of humility but a prayer to remind God and himself of how awesome he is. This is a prayer of a prideful man. He thinks that he is superior to other people because of his good works. Do you see that? He thanks God that he is not like other men. So he takes a look at his life, and he looks at Mr Gaga and concludes that he is superior to Mr Gaga. He does not say, “I fast, you don’t fast, it’s okay as long as we are growing in Christ.” He says, “I fast, you don’t fast, and that makes me better than you.” This pharisee finds his identity in comparing himself with others who are worse than him.
But let’s give him the benefit of a doubt. Let’s say that he is truly thankful to God for his works in his life. Let’s say that he really means it when he says, “God, you are the reason I am all of this. If it were not for you, where would I be?” Let’s give him that. Even then, this prayer is still problematic. Because what he does is, he no longer put his trust in God. He puts his trust in the good works that he does. Those good works might be the result of the work of God in him. But at some point in his life, he stopped trusting God and began to trust in the good works that are evident in his life. He has so much faith in his good works that he has no need to trust in God anymore. Charles Spurgeon says that this man is “too good to be saved.” So here is the problem. The problem with the pharisee is not that he is not good enough. The problem is that he is too good in his own estimation and he relies on his goodness rather than God. He looks to himself for justification. He seeks righteousness using his own good works. He wants to be his own saviour.
Tax collector’s prayer
Luke 18:13 – But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
The attitude of the tax collector is very different from the pharisee. While the pharisee is full of himself, the tax collector is broken. He is empty. He has nothing to offer God. Look at his posture. Jesus says that he stands far off. He does not want to come to close to God because he understands that he is not worthy of God. He does not even want to look up to heaven because he is ashamed. He can only look down. And he beats his breast as an expression of sorrow. And when he prays, the only thing he can say is, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He calls himself a sinner. And this is the irony of the story. The pharisee should have known more about God than the tax collector but it is the tax collector who truly understands the holiness of God. In the light of God and his glory, there is only one thing he can say about himself, “I am a sinner.”
This is very different from the pharisee. The pharisee look at the tax collector and think highly of himself. But the tax collector does not compare himself with others. Instead, he measures himself against the holiness of God and comes to the conclusion that he is a guilty sinner. He doesn’t care about anyone else. He doesn’t care about the pharisee. He doesn’t care about other people around him. All he knows is that he is a sinner and he needs mercy. And that is why he comes to God. He comes to the temple seeking God’s mercy.
Mercy! That’s the only thing he asks for. He can’t ask for anything else. All he can ask is for God to be merciful to him. And here is what’s interesting. You can’t see this in English translation. What the tax collector asks for is not simply mercy. The regular Greek word for mercy is “eleos.” But that’s not the Greek word used in this text. The Greek word for mercy in this text is “hilaskomai” from the word “hilasterion” which means atonement or mercy seat. So, he does not say, “God, please give me a break and overlook my sin.” He is saying “God, please atone for my sin.”
Here is what it means. The tax collector understands that God cannot just overlook sin. It is unjust of God to overlook sin. There must be a payment for sin. There must be atonement for sin. And once the payment is made, the wrath of God against sin is satisfied. This is what the tax collector is asking. He is not asking God to let him off and lower his standards. He is asking God to atone for his sin. How does God atone for his sin? Hebrews 2:17 – Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Propitiation. That’s hilasterion. That’s atonement. The author of Hebrew is saying that Jesus is making atonement for our sins. Jesus became one of us and he died and paid the penalty of our sin. So that if we trust in him, we are accepted and approved by God. We become righteous. We are justified. Not because of our good works but because of Jesus alone. Jesus is the only one who can atone for our sin. Watch what happens next. It is a total shock to Jesus’ audience.
The outcome of prayers
Luke 18:14 – I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I think a lot of time the gravity of what happened is lost on us because we are very familiar with the story. When Jesus tells this parable, no one is expecting this outcome. Everyone in the audience is expecting Jesus to praise the pharisee and condemn the tax collector. But Jesus said that the tax collector goes home justified. Wait! What? Remember, we are talking about tax collector here. We are not talking about someone who tells a white lie. We are talking about the scums of society. The worst of the worst. The one that is even hated by sinners. Think of a serial killer who killed all of your friends and family before your very eyes. Think of someone who raped your best friend or your daughter. Think of the worst sinner who has inflicted the greatest pain in your life. Yes, that person. Jesus says that person goes home justified. That person goes home being accepted and approved by God. That person goes home being counted righteous in the sight of God. That person goes home just if he has never sinned. The word justified does not only means being forgiven of sin but also accepted by God. So God is not saying to him, “Your sin is forgiven. You may go.” God is saying to him, “Your sin is forgiven. You may come to me.” The tax collector is not justified by anything he has done. All he has is his sins. But he brings his sin to God and asks God to atone for his sin. And at that moment, he is justified by God based on the mercy of God alone. It is Christ alone that justifies him. Christ has paid the price of sin. Christ has satisfied the wrath of God. And now the tax collector receives freely. This is scandalous. This is shocking.
What about the pharisee? What happens to him? Surely he is justified as well right? Oh no. Here come the four very frightening words and the biggest twist in the parable. “Rather than the other.” The pharisee is not justified. The pharisee is not accepted and approved in the sight of God. The pharisee goes home being condemned by God. Why? Because the pharisee is too busy with his own righteousness to trust in Christ’s righteousness. That is why Jesus concludes the parable by saying “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” The pharisee exalts himself when he thinks that he is better than other people. The pharisee exalts himself when he thinks that his sin is not as bad as other people. The pharisee exalts himself when he trusts in his own righteousness rather than God. But the tax collector humbles himself and simply asks God for his mercy. The one who thinks he deserves righteousness goes home empty-handed. The one who knows he does not deserve righteousness goes home being justified. What a story. The point of the parable is we are not justified by our own righteous works but by the righteousness of Christ. Christ and Christ alone justifies us.
Let me give you three dangers that we must be careful of. And these dangers are not dangers of being bad. They are the dangers of being good. The dangers of being a pharisee.
One, beware of spiritual elitism. Here is what I mean. I don’t think any of us ever set up to be a pharisee in the beginning. None of us read the Bible and goes, “These people are amazing. I just want to be like them when I mature in faith.” In fact, every Pharisee started off as a person who loves God and loves the Scriptures and wants to live by it. These are the 3 steps that usually happen. First, there is an eye-opening event. It can be a conference or mission trip that we went to. It can also be new teaching that we heard in church or read in book or we discovered ourselves as we study the Scriptures. And we go, “This is it. This is true Christianity. The gospel. Yes and amen.” Second, we begin to step out in faith. In response to what we received, we step out in faith. We clean up our mess and we begin to build spiritual disciplines around that idea. So for us the gospel people, we watch American Gospel. We stay away from false gospels and we only read gospel-centred books. We wear gospel people bracelet. We read from ESV Bible because it is the “Elect Standard Version.” We begin to use the word gospel for everything. Gospel blessing; Gospel favour; Gospel life; Gospel song; Gospel food etc. We are sold out for the gospel. So far so good. And third, we press forward. As we do so, we begin to notice some people who are lagging behind and this creates frustration toward those who don’t share our passionate pursuit of the gospel. And if we are not careful, before too long we begin to look down on others and put confidence in our own righteousness. “Pfft, look at them. They are reading Osteen. They love self-centred teaching. Look at me, I am reading Piper and Keller. I am so gospel-centred.” And when we continue this path, it won’t be long before we end up in a place of arrogance where being right becomes the most important thing. At this stage, we have completed our transformation from genuine believers to Pharisees. Our mantra becomes “I thank God that I am not like other believers. I am gospel-centred.” Do you see what happen? This is extremely dangerous. And it does not happen overnight. It happens slowly without us being aware of it.
Two, beware of spiritual comparison. If we are not careful it is very easy for us to have our own list of things that are acceptable and things that are not acceptable, and we try to apply our list to everyone we know. We have a list of what is good enough and what is not. And just like the pharisee, we begin to compare our spiritual walk with other people. And this is dumb. Because we do not know people’s heart. We do not know their struggle. We do not know the depth of their journey with God. Let me give you an example. Bob and Sally. Bob is a good looking, well-mannered and very patient man. He does not get irritated easily and he loves to talk about the gospel. Sally, on the other hand, is a very hot-headed woman. She is very impatient and often says things that she regrets later. Looking externally, it seems obvious that God is more pleased with Bob than Sally. We would put Bob in a good Christian list and Sally in a bad Christian list. But there is more to the story. Bob’s well-mannered behaviour is part of his make up as a child. He was raised by well-mannered parents and was educated in the understanding of the gospel. The fact is, he hasn’t shown any growth at all as a Christian. He is simply being Bob. Sally, on the other hand, was raised in a dysfunctional family. Her dad was jobless, and her mom was an alcoholic. Her days were marked with cuss words every few sentences and flying knives and occasional gunfire. She learned to survive by beating every guy around her. The Sally we know today, although still far from meeting the standard of our good Christian list, was not the same person she used to be. She has made a lot of progress in her walk with Christ.
So, which one is more pleasing to God? Bob who is simply being Bob or Sally who is still far from Bob’s standards but who was not the same person she used to be? If I must pick without knowing the background, Bob would be my favourite, not Sally. But that’s not how it works with God. God sees the heart and not the external. Sally’s heart is captivated by God and she is being transformed step by step. That’s why you and I have no right to look down on Sally. We can’t see what God sees. If anything, we should be concerned about Bob who does not show any growth in his Christian walk.
Three, beware of self-righteousness. This is the greatest danger of all. Self-righteousness is extremely deadly because if you have it, you do not know you have it. We are expert at analysing what is wrong with others, but we are hopeless in diagnosing ourselves. Sure, none of us thinks we are perfect. All of us know we are work in progress. But few of us realize the weight of our own shortcomings. Let me read you a letter. This letter is written from a woman named Carolyn Bourne to her stepson fiancée. This letter is known as a letter from future mother in law from hell.
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you. Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
– When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
– When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in the household that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
– You should never insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
– You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
– You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
– No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughter’s marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
Alright. Any taker on the future mother in law from hell? There is no question that some of her criticisms are legitimate. In British upper society, there are things you simply don’t do. No doubt Heidi needs to work on a few things. Ms Bourne probably just followed the list of expected behaviour and Heidi falls short. But it’s amazing how in doing so, Ms Bourne broke many lady protocols herself. She is not acting in a ladylike manner at all in pointing all Heidi’s shortcomings. In fact, the article reveals that she has three previous fail marriages, a child out of wedlock, and spent a considerable amount of time living together with much older gentleman. She’s just a recent addition to Bourne family. But it’s amazing how she is blind to her own shortcomings but very quick in pointing out her future daughter in law shortcomings. The truth is all of us have the tendency to see and lash out at the failing of others while remaining blind to our own long list of sins. Jesus does not teach us to tolerate other people’s sin but he does teach us to remove the log in our own eyes first before removing the speck in others.
Let me conclude this way. Just because we are gospel-centred, does not make us more righteous than other Christians. Are you hearing me? If we do not understand this, we are simply repeating the mistake in Jesus’ parable. The mistake of the Pharisee is saying, “I thank God that I am not like those sinners.” The mistake of gospel-centred people is saying, “I thank God that I am not like those religious people.” The two are the same thing. Both still rely on their own righteousness rather than Christ’s perfect works on our behalf. Christ and Christ alone justified us. We don’t put our trust in our knowledge of the gospel but we put our trust in the God of the gospel who made the gospel available for us. We put our trust in Christ alone and that is how we are accepted in the sight of God.
One final illustration and I am back to my seat. Let’s say that both I and Mr Gaga died on our way home from RSI. And we are both standing in front of God. God looks at me and says, “I took your life away today. Now, tell me. Why should I let you into my Kingdom?” I lift my face up, look God in the eye, and reply confidently, “God, you should let me in because I am good. I have been a good Christian all my life, minus the one year in Dallas. I have been serving you in all kinds of ministry ever since I was young. I read my Bible cover to cover every year for the past 9 years. I give generously beyond the standard requirement. I preach the gospel every single week. I disciple many disciples. I consistently obey your law. I study Scripture. I travel all around the world to preach the gospel. I am so busy doing your works that I am still single. That’s why you should let me into your kingdom.” And God goes, “Hmmm, I don’t think I should. You are out!” And I scream, “No, no, no, this is not right. God, looks at all the things that I have done for you. How could you do this to me?” And while the angel of death is dragging me out of God’s presence, God looks at Mr Gaga and asks, “Why should I let you into my kingdom?” And Mr Gaga does not dare to lift his face up. Tears come down from his eyes. And with a trembling voice, he says, “There is nothing in me that qualifies me to enter your kingdom. I am a sinner. I spent my life satisfying my own desire. I pursue after sex, money and fame. I hurt so many people. I even neglect my own family. You should not let me in. My only hope in entering your kingdom is the blood of your son. I am banking all my hope in the atonement of sin through Jesus Christ. I can only bank on your mercy. I plead in the blood of Christ and Christ alone. Christ is my righteousness.” And God replies, “Justified. You may enter into my kingdom.” It is Christ and Christ alone that makes us righteous. Do not put your trust in your righteousness but in Christ’s righteousness for you.
- Jesus intentionally used two opposite images of a pharisee and a tax collector. For what purpose did he contrast the two?
- What is the problem with the pharisee’s prayer? Can you see the same tendency in you? Give examples.
- How is the tax collector’s posture in approaching God very different from the pharisee?
- Read Luke 18:14. Explain why the mercy of God is scandalous.
- Out of the three dangers of being good, which one do you think has affected you the most? Share it with your MC.
- Look at the three natural steps toward spiritual elitism. Why are they good and dangerous at the same time?
- “We don’t put our trust in our knowledge of the gospel but we put our trust in the God of the gospel who made the gospel available for us.” Explain the difference between the former and the later.