The Cold Pharisee

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

— Luke 18:14

Do you have confidence that God finds you acceptable? If so, upon what do you base your confidence?

The Pharisees believed that God found them acceptable based on their goodness. The Pharisees trusted in their works. Jesus tells us that they even prayed to themselves: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.” As time went on, they became increasingly holy in their own eyes.

But Christ found them greatly lacking. He didn’t base their acceptability on their deeds; he based it on the state of their hearts.

We can classify sin in many ways. Let’s consider the notion of “hot” and “cold” sins. Hot sins are those of passion. These would include such things as adultery, stealing, anger, murder, fornication, and rape. Most of us consider these the most heinous of all sins, and to be sure, the Pharisees avoided such actions. But to the cold sins God turns His hottest words. He scorns sins of self-righteousness, harboring a condemning spirit, pride, and despising others. Against this sort of sin Christ leveled His greatest attacks, and the people most guilty of them were the Pharisees.

So often we trust in ourselves, building our hope of Heaven on nothing more than our own self-righteousness, our own piety, and our own benevolence. We believe we can achieve our own salvation by keeping the commandments and fulfilling ceremonial duties. But if we base our salvation on such things, we’ll find ourselves sadly mistaken. We could never do enough to earn our own passage to Heaven. Only Jesus Christ can save us through His blood.

Today thank Jesus for His sacrifice, which has made your sanctification possible. Ask God to give you a humble and thankful heart every day that you may remember the true Source of your salvation.

“People who are wrapped in themselves make small packages.”
Benjamin Franklin