In this last chapter of The Calvary Road, Roy shared the story of the Pharisee and Publican (Luke 18). This leaves us with the reminder of what our hearts are like apart from Christ. Having this reminder constantly before us will keep us humble and broken, continually running back to the Lord for His grace.
“We have all become so used to condemning the proud self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, that we can hardly believe that the picture of him there is meant to apply to us – which only shows how much like him we really are. The Sunday School teacher was never so much Pharisee, as when she finished her lesson on this parable with the words, ‘And now, children, we can thank God that we are not as this Pharisee!”
Roy continues by saying, “We shall not understand the real wrong of the Pharisee’s attitude, nor of our own, unless we view it against the background of what God says about the human heart.”
“God wants us to recognize that fact as true in our experience, so that in true brokenness and self-despair we shall allow Jesus Christ to be our righteousness, and holiness, and all in all – and that is victory.”
It’s a humbling thing to see ourselves for who and what we really are, but it’s only when we open our eyes to our spiritual poverty that we can become poor in spirit. We will find that “the only beautiful thing about the Christian is Jesus Christ.” It’s so freeing to realize this truth and come to Him with all our failures knowing that He accepts us as just as we are and desires to fill us with His abundant life.
When we refuse to accept the truth and protest our innocence, we justify ourselves and make God a liar! The Pharisee was no doubt sincere, but “in saying, ‘I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust,’ he was protesting his innocence of the very things that God says are in every heart… He really did believe that he was innocent of these things. Indeed, he is ascribing his imagined innocence to God, saying, ‘I thank Thee…’ God’s Word, however still stood against him.”
1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (NASB1995). Later in verse 10 it says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Roy goes on to warn us, “If we feel we are innocent and have nothing to be broken about, it is not that these things are not there, but that we have not seen them. We have been living in a realm of illusion about ourselves.”
Such “hidden faults” may include not only protesting our own innocence, but the innocence of loved ones. “We are not only living in a realm of illusion about ourselves, but about them too, and we fear to have it shattered. But we are only defending them against God – making God a liar on their behalf, as we do our own, and keeping them from entering into blessing, as we do ourselves.”
We must stop justifying ourselves and start justifying God! This language might seem confusing, but I simply mean that we must stop declaring ourselves righteous and start declaring God as the only Righteous One, and Jesus Christ who is Righteous on our behalf.
“But the tax collector [publican] stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14 NLT).
Sometimes we fear humbling ourselves and being honest with God because we think we have let Him down. “Rather, the reverse is true, for out of such confession God gets glory, for we declare Him to be right. This brings us to a new experience of victory in Christ, for it declares afresh, that ‘in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing’ (Romans 7:18) and brings us to a place where we give up trying to make our incorrigible selves holy and where we take Jesus to be our holiness and HIs life to be our life.”
The beautiful picture in all of this is, “the God who declares beforehand what we are, provides beforehand for our sin. Jesus was the Lamb slain for our sins from the foundation of the world. In Him, who bore them in meekness, my sins are finished. And as I, in true brokenness, confess them, and put my faith in His Blood, they are cleansed and gone. Peace with God then comes into my heart, fellowship with God is immediately restored, and I walk with Him in white.”
If we would just live our lives this way, daily admitting to God what we’re not, and receiving in return His full forgiveness and power. This is revival! “The simple way of being willing to justify God and see the power of the Blood cleanse, brings within our reach, as never before, a close walk with Jesus, a constant dwelling with Him in the Holy of Holies. As we walk with Him in the Light, He will be showing us all the time the beginnings of things which, if allowed to pass, will grieve Him, and check the flow of His life in us – things which are the expression of that old proud self, for which God has nothing but judgment.”
“There then is our choice – to protest our innocence and go down to our house, unblessed, dry of soul and out of touch with God. Or to justify God and to enter into peace, fellowship and victory through the Blood of Jesus… This demands that we must be men of ‘a humble and contrite spirit,’ that is, men who are willing to be shown the smallest thing. But such are the ones, God says, who ‘dwell with Him in the high and holy place (Isaiah 57:15) and who experience continuous revival.”
Chapter 10: Homework
Day 1: The Pharisee and the Publican (tax collector)
- Read Luke 18:9-14.
- Who was Jesus telling this parable to? (v. 9)
- How were the Pharisee and the Tax Collector’s prayer different?
- What about the Tax Collector’s prayer and body language indicates his humility and brokenness?
- What did Jesus say about both of them in verse 14?
Day 2: God’s Picture of the Human Heart
- Read Jeremiah 17:9 and record it in your journal.
- Read Mark 7:20-23 and Matthew 15:19. What do you learn about the heart?
- Read Romans 3:10-12, 5:10, Philippians 3:18, and Colossians 1:21. What do these verses tell you about the human condition without Christ?
- Read Romans 7:18 and Romans 8:5-8. What do you learn about our flesh?
- Read Ezekiel 36:26-27. This is a prophecy concerning the nation of Israel, but it is a beautiful picture of salvation and what God has done for us. What does God do for us when we receive Him as Savior?
Day 3: The Danger of Deceiving Ourselves
- Read Obadiah 1:3, 1 Corinthians 3:16-20 (note verse 18), Galatians 6:3, and 1 John 1:8-10. List everything you learn about self-deception.
- What does Jesus say about the Pharisees in Luke 16:15?
- Read Revelation 3:14-22. How had the Laodicean Church deceived herself? What was the result of their self-deception?
- Read James 1:21-26. How can a person be deceived or deluded? (see verses 23-24, 26)
- What type of person is blessed in James 1:25? What makes him an effectual doer of the Word? (hint: How does he look at the perfect Law of Liberty in verse 25?)
Day 4: Justifying God
- Read Job 32:2. Why was Elihu upset with Job?
- Read Job 40:1-8. What does God say specifically to Job in verse 8? If you have the time, you can read God’s response to Job in chapters 40-41. It’s truly remarkable!
- How did Job respond to God in Job 42:1-6? How did recognizing the truth about himself deepen his relationship with God? (see verse 5-6)
- Read Psalm 51:3-4. What admission does David make and why?
- Read Romans 11:33-36 as a prayer to the Lord. Confess to Him what you’re not and praise Him for all that He is!
Day 5: Revival and Healing
- According to Psalm 51:10, what can God create within us?
- Read Isaiah 57:15. What does God promise to do, and who does He promise to do it for?
- Read Isaiah 57:15-19. How is God described?
- Aside from His high and holy place, where else does God dwell? Why does He dwell there? (verse 15)
- How is God mindful of our human state and what will He do for us according to verses 16-19?
- Take a moment to humble yourself before Almighty God thanking Him for all He has done and has promised to do!
Please note that unless stated otherwise, all italicized quotes that are not directly cited from an author or Scripture are direct quotes from the book.