Responding to Sin – Luke 18:9-14

(This is a summary of a sermon preached on Sunday evening 16/08/15)

Read Luke 18:9-14.

Morally, both the Pharisee and the Tax Collector began at the same place; that is, recognising that they were sinners. The Pharisee must have recognised at some point that he was a sinner before he could begin to try and earn his place in Heaven. However, knowing you’re a sinner isn’t enough. There needs to be a response – and the two have very different ways of responding to the knowledge of their sin:

  1. The Pharisee tries to undo his sin by being the best he can be. By doing this, he expects to be accepted by God because of his efforts and thinks he is better than everyone else. Salvation must be earned.
  1. The Tax Collector recognises that his sins are far too great to be dealt with by his own actions. So, he turns to the only hope he has left which is God and His mercy. Salvation must be given.

The one who goes home justified (key word in v.14) is the one who humbles himself. Remember, humbling ourselves is not something we can just decide to do. Ultimately, it is God who humbles us by bringing us to a point where there’s nothing else we can do but submit to Him. Humbling ourselves is a selfless response to God’s work of regeneration in us. Therefore, we cannot be self-righteous and think we have responded better than others. God gets all the glory because He humbled us through the conviction of sin and by graciously providing a way for redemption – through Christ alone.

It wasn’t the act of humbling himself that saved the tax collector – he could do nothing but be humbled by such a merciful God. It was irresistible grace. All of our praise therefore goes to God, and our hope is that because Christ has been exalted; He will exalt those whom He has humbled (v. 14b). Christ first humbled Himself by becoming a Man, and was humiliated by being crucified.

As He humbled himself, He humbles us. As He died on the cross, our sins died with Him. As He rose from death, we have been raised from our spiritual death. As He ascended into Heaven and is exalted, we too will be exalted with Him because of who He is and what He has done. It’s not our humility that saves us, but God’s mercy (v.13) expressed through sacrificing His Son.


Written by: Gwydion Emlyn, Assistant to the Pastor and member of St. Mellons Baptist Church

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