Gal 2:20 is my fav passage in the Bible, but Luke 18:13-14 is always right on its tail and sometimes passes it. It is a precious passage in my eyes and I often use it with those who doubt their salvation. It expresses the simplicity of saving faith.
Picture this: you have two guys. One goes to church every Sunday, tithes ten percent of every paycheck, has never cursed, drank alcohol, smoked, done drugs, or even sped in his car. He has kept all the rules.
Another guy who fails at every turn. He skips church due to a hangover, sleeps around with girls, smokes like a chimney, is addicted to everything under the sun, and has been divorced four times.
Both of these people are down on their knees before God. The first one says, “Lord, thank you so much that I am not like that guy over there. Thank you that I am strong and stable and have so much to offer you and the world.” He the gets up and leaves, confident that the Lord recognizes his worth and accepts him.
The next guy, with great trepidation, falls before God in his tears. He knows he can’t stop sinning. He knows his depravity and knows he has nothing but sin to offer the Lord. He doesn’t even know what to say. He can’t even look up to God. Finally, he makes the most simple request, “Lord, have mercy on me the sinner.” Notice, he does not promise to stop sinning. He knows he can’t. He doesn’t make excuses. He knows there are none. He doesn’t even know whether the Lord will forgive him. But he has to take the chance. He gets up and leaves, having no idea of what has just happened to him.
Here is the passage:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
What did Christ say about this second man?
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Salvation and faith are so simple, yet so difficult. We have to recognize our sin, realize that we have nothing to offer God, and call on Christ as our only hope.
Are you saved? Let me ask you this: Do you have any other hope than Christ? Have you made the simple request, “Have mercy on me, the sinner”? If so, then you are saved. Whether you believe it or not, you are forever perfect before God and will live in eternity with him. It’s not me saying this. It’s Christ.
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