The last of the three representative men now appears on the scene.
He is the Religious Sinner
and prides himself in what he is, and what he knows and what he does, and we are not surprised when he puts in a plea of “not guilty.” He is no ordinary sort of person. Let us look at him. Do his pretensions have any weight with the Judge?
He prides himself in what he is for he is called a Jew vs. 1. He has a good name surely for that word “Jew” comes from “Judah” which means “praise” Gen. 29:35. But the label means nothing, for God looks at the heart. A great statesman once asked “How many legs would a donkey have if you called his tail a leg?” Educated statesmen said “five.” But you know that calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. Tin may be labelled silver; and brass, gold; but tin will still be tin and brass will still be brass. Christened sinners, confirmed sinners and church going sinners are sinners still. No religious cloak can hide sin from the eyes of God, and every such cloak is as useless as the fig leaf aprons of our first parents in Gen. 3 vs………….
Have we not met this man before? Yes. We have seen him praying in the temple (Lk. 18:9-14) thanking God that he is not like other men. There he lays claim to superior piety, here he clings to his religious fig leaves even in the presence of the Judge. We listen to his pleas as he enumerates his virtues, but all in vain as far as being exonerated or acquitted is concerned.
that distinguish him from all others.
1. He trusts in the law of God. vs……… But the law is not a resting place. The law only exposes sin. Is it not strange that he should choose that to hide his sin. The law can only pronounce a curse upon the sinner.
2. He boasts in God. vs……… But he will find his boast a vain one. Was God the God of the Jews only? And would God associate Himself with sin? Had he forgotten the experience in 1 Sam. 4:5 when Israel gloried in the ark of God?
3. He knows the will of God. vs………But this only increases his responsibility, for true happiness is found not in knowing the will of God but in doing it.
4. He has superior discernment, vs……… He professes to have the touchstone of divine revelation which he applies to questions of right and wrong.
5. He has superior training, vs……… He is very orthodox. Has he not been schooled out of the holy law of God?
Because of these advantages he advances
A Fivefold Claim
to superiority. He has graduated and has his degrees. He is quite sure that he is
1. A leader of blind men. vs………..
2. A light to those who are in the dark, vs………..
3. An educator of the thoughtless vs……….
4. A teacher of beginners vs………..
5. A trustee of divine truth vs………..
In the law of God there is a ten-fold claim against man. This man presents a tenfold claim for exemption, building his claim on that very law.
We will subject him to God’s rigid cross examination. The court will turn all this back upon himself. “You, your neighbour’s teacher, do you not teach yourself?”
Five searching questions are put to this self-righteous Pharisee and they wither up all his self conceit. Five emphatic “Thou’s” are hurled at him. vs. 21-23. His preaching may be good but his practice is poor. His life is such a contradiction to his teachings. “The name of God is blasphemed (or railed at) among the Gentiles,” He is doubly guilty. He not only transgresses the law he so gloried in but he is charged with bringing reproach upon God’s name. What a terrible indictment. How poor a hiding place the law is proven to be.
1. Fill in references.
2. What man in the gospels is like the religious sinner in our lesson?
3. What incident in the Old Testament proves that God will not associate Himself with sin?
4. Write out verses 19-23 and underline a personal pronoun found more often than any other word in the verses.
5. What is the final charge brought against this religious sinner?